Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog titled, “Mayday for Insurance and Financial Services,” where I detailed how next-generation customer experience capabilities, such as virtual interactions between business experts and customers, are transforming business processes – such as the “Mayday” button technology offered on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX. The purpose of that blog was to explain virtual interaction capabilities and discuss how they are likely to become integrated into the insurance industry in the near future. So what’s changed? Well, I’ve gone from blogging about the changes to come, to speaking at insurance industry conferences about how virtual transactions are now transforming how the industry does business and how Cisco is helping fuel these virtual interactions.

I attended the Property Insurance Report National Conference, and had many great discussions. The focus of the conference was on ways the property insurance world is changing, through consideration of new ideas and the utilization of new tools being built. It’s widely considered that with the arrival of better information and tools, the most sophisticated insurers will be able to separate themselves from those who don’t take these changes as seriously or employ them as skillfully. Features such as online video sales and support are working in the real world for other industries, so how they can be applied to insurance?

At the conference, I gave a keynote presentation titled, “Omni-Channel for Insurance – Virtual Enhanced Distribution & Service Channels”. The presentation specifically focused on how virtual interactions are transforming the insurance industry and improving customer experiences.


Today’s consumers live in an anytime-anywhere-any-device world. Nearly 80 percent of customers shopping for home or auto insurance policies today are doing so online at some point during their shopping process. Every day, this type of scenario happens: someone is shopping for insurance online, and becomes uncertain about how much coverage they should buy. There is usually a “frequently asked questions” button on the page that offers vague insight, but not enough to act upon. After investing a bunch of time, the shopping event is abandoned and an opportunity lost. Another frequent occurrence happens when a customer is on their insurance company’s website, trying to check on the status of a claim, and they can’t figure it out. Maybe it’s because the customer isn’t computer savvy or maybe the instructions aren’t clear (or maybe both). Nonetheless, the customer walks away frustrated.

Now imagine this. When a consumer gets stuck during an online session, instead of walking away, or calling a call center to start all over, they just click on a “help” button. Within seconds, a live operator appears on the screen and a video chat is launched – with pointed advice from an expert now readily available. Even better, the agent on the phone can take control of the customer’s web browser and help complete the task at hand. Virtual interactions with customers is a natural extension of the trusted advisor relationship, it’s just done differently. Consumers don’t have to waste two hours on their Saturday to go into their agent’s office and sit across from them at a desk. The customer can interact with their insurance company as they choose. Because of this, close rates rise in sales, customer satisfaction rates can rise in service, and if it plays out correctly, operating costs can go down. This is all part of what’s called Omnichannel for Insurance – ensuring a connected customer experience across access points and giving insurers a 360-view of the customer that transforms the way they do business and how they think about IT.

Following the event, Brian Sullivan, Property Insurance Report National Conference chairman and journalist who has been covering financial services and the insurance industry for 30 years, summed up key takeaways nicely by saying:

“Live online video chat is coming to the insurance industry, with a certain combination of opportunity and disruption in sales, service, and claims. A number of carriers are already in test mode, and it seems a good bet that 2016 will see a handful of pioneering insurers implementing video chat into many facets of communication between customers and service providers.

Attendees at the most recent Property Insurance Report National Conference had an opportunity to see this technology in action for insurance purposes, courtesy of Rob Cornwell at Cisco. The giant technology company has developed a video chat and co-browsing tool specifically for insurers, and a number of insurers are currently in testing to bring the technology both to their web pages and mobile applications.”

Something I like to point out is that this is a consumer and competition-driven evolution, so insurers have got to start thinking about consumer demand versus what they want to/can offer consumers. When it comes to virtual interaction, the potential for business is as endless as the ever changing needs and expectations of the customers they serve. To find out more information on how Cisco can help meet your insurance business needs click here.


Rob Cornwell

Practice Advisor - Insurance

Insurance, Americas Business Transformation