With Wonderclaims, AXA Italy has developed a groundbreaking ecosystem of services to facilitate the claims opening, follow-up and resolution. Pietro Guglielmi, Head of Customer Experience Excellence, tells us the story of the team behind the new project and offers a glimpse of the agile processes that enabled its creation.
There's one thing to know when you work in insurance: customers never reach out when everything is fine. On the contrary, customers get in touch in times of distress, after an accident, a loss or suffering harm of some kind. With this in mind, to ease the burden on customers and accelerate settlement and decision-making processes, one momentous day in December 2014, in our offices in Milan, we set out on the Wonderclaims adventure.
An independent team
The starting point for the whole project at end-2014 was a single goal: a fluid customer experience. But to achieve that, we had to answer a myriad of questions: Where to start? What are our customers’ real, immediate, and deep-down needs? How can we meet them within the framework of our own technological, legal and organizational constraints? Of course, we were already providing many online services to customers, which we continuously worked to improve. But we had gotten to the point where we had to face the facts: with digital services and consumer habits changing at full speed, the most effective approach for us would be to start again from scratch – to begin with a clean slate, design the ideal user experience and then produce it using the tools available to us.
Our first step was therefore to create an independent think tank and production unit. To head the unit, as of the beginning of 2015 we welcomed Riccardo Gili, Head of Claims Transformation, Antifraud and International Claims at AXA Italy, which spearheaded the Wonderclaims project.
Putting yourself in the customer's shoes may sound easy. And often it is. We ourselves are policyholders and have already experienced being on the other end of the telephone – or the other side of the screen. Nevertheless, imagining a digital journey is really a tricky skill that you have to acquire and constantly put into practice. Simplifying an interface is a lot, lot of work. And the better our work, the more invisible it is, which might make our job seem thankless. But, fortunately, we also are in this business because we love solving brainteasers!
Simplify, simplify, simplify
The Wonderclaims project boils down to one principle: enabling insured to open a claim in a minimum of clicks, using their smartphone, PC or tablet, while staying informed of the real-time progress of their case. And what they want to know are two things: the potential financial compensation, of course, but more importantly what is being done to help them during this trying time. Here’s an example: providing a replacement vehicle after a car accident. This is an urgent matter for anyone in this situation. So how could the process be simplified? We wanted to enable customers to just pick up their phone and send a message with the relevant information about the claim, maybe attaching a few photos, to have a “Claims Caring Angel” instantly assigned to assist them to fulfill the declaration form and open the claim immediately. Our goal was in fact to reduce the paperwork aspect of reporting a claim to minimum, being always near to the client in the moment of truth. Before, an insured would have to make a phone call (and sometimes call back again and again), make an appointment, fill out forms and then keep on calling to get news about how the case was progressing… All of that is in the past. From now on, as soon as the claim is reported online, or immediately on the lace of the accident, and the resolution process begins immediately.
On the place of the accident, you can track the tow truck’s arrival in real time using GPS. At each stage of processing of your case, you will receive a push notification. Naturally, you can also check progress on the platform whenever you want. You can chat with AXA anytime, 24/7, whether to get more information and a on line booking service is available to schedule a repair appointment at a garage – the choice of which you are fully in control.
To prove that this innovation was not just another gadget, we made two additional commitments:
- The platform must enable the customer’s motor claims to be reimbursed within 21 days.
- Any customer comments or reviews would be systematically posted by us (while protecting customer anonymity, of course) in real time. To date, we are the only insurance company to offer this.
First steps in the new world
The more a digital platform is easy to use and feature-rich, the more it is complicated to design. That's what I learned with Wonderclaims. Our desire to focus all processes on the user and give priority to empathy and design-thinking over all other aspects, made 2015 a – shall we say, complex – year. To be honest, everything seemed to conspire against us finishing on time. A missed deadline often happens with this type of assignment, but it's always a huge disappointment for the teams involved.
We had identified 32 steps for every case to achieve resolution. Asking a user to go through these 32 steps was of course out of the question! On the internet, what goes on behind the scenes must remain completely invisible. If not, that means we failed. This was our real challenge. Without the extra help sent by management during this hectic year, I don't know if I would be able to proudly announce today that after an eventful fourth quarter in 2015, we delivered an initial public version before Christmas. Valeria Gariboldi, Claims Organization, Projects and Action Plan, recently used the word “epic” to describe this frantic time combining feelings of stress, satisfaction, frustration, hard work, victory and challenge. I like the word she chose.
At last came the critical launch day. This is a hard time to be a digital project leader: before the launch, we can of course detect bugs and check whether something is not working as it should. But it's impossible for us to exactly replicate the situation of an ordinary user and know whether the service being provided truly satisfies their wants and needs. Without undue exaggeration, I really experienced this step like a movie release or a work of art that I poured my heart into: you know you’ve done all you can... But what will the audience think? We are also aware that people don't usually go easy on their insurer when something goes wrong, and no one can blame them.
Three weeks after the launch, it was time for an assessment…. Phew! Three figures sum up the results: 99, 4.5 and 3. Ninety-nine is the percentage of motor claims resolved in 21 days or less, just as we promised. Four-and-a-half is the average score out of five that our customers gave us. Three is the number of awards won*.
But the best part of this story is that this is only the beginning. Technology keeps changing, and with it, the expectations of policyholders, including us. Our job is to use and even develop these fantastic tools, so we can continue to make life easier for people, especially when going through a rough patch. And that is exactly what brings me the most pleasure, every day.