The Guide to Using SmartMail in Insurance

Ushur

Ushur SmartMail: What is it?

Simple, Convenient, Easy

SmartMail is an easy to use, easy to implement Customer Experience Automation™ (CXA) solution for carriers to introduce high-value automation into their inbound email. This begins with recognizing and routing email quickly and intuitively based on the content and attachments of the emails themselves. Whatever the email may contain, whether it is free-form text, with or without attachments or images, SmartMail uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan, classify, and route it to the proper location. SmartMail can detect information that is missing and immediately reach back to the sender with a secure process to obtain the additional data. SmartMail can extract the data from the message and enclosures to populate backend systems. SmartMail even provides contextual auto-responses to provide the customer with confidence their specific inquiry was understood. 

SmartMail frees carrier employees from the tedious and repetitive burden of monitoring shared email boxes and reviewing email content, instead giving  them an opportunity to work on more fulfilling work. SmartMail uses Conversational AI with fine-tuned Machine Learning (ML) to scan and analyze high volume incoming emails and route each one to the appropriate person or department. For carriers, that could be millions of emails as simple as “claim status” or as complicated as an inquiry as to how to add drivers to their existing policies.

Benefits of SmartMail

Why care about a solution like SmartMail? Ushur’s SmartMail solution is a perfect fit for any of the high-volume business communications you commonly see across the insurance life cycle.  AI-powered SmartMail reduces operational expenses, and also increases both employee and customer engagement. 

How does it work? Much like any employee learning from experience on the job, SmartMail takes existing samples of your emails and trains the ML models to understand your terminology, taxonomy and organizational structure.  It then uses those models, and acts as the interface for hundreds upon thousands of your email queries and sifts through them, classifying each email and routing it to the proper location. At volumes that high, what is a fairly rote but critical task that formerly took days, or weeks, can now process in seconds. Ushur decreases processing time, and offers accuracy comparable to your employees who may struggle to keep up with the inflow of emails to your organization or website. 

When carriers utilize SmartMail’s contextual auto-response, their customers, agents, and brokers have confirmation that their specific request has been received, perhaps also with clarity on the next steps and timeframe. 

SmartMail’s ability to scrutinize inbound email to detect missing information and reach back to the sender immediately, prevents service delays and an endless, resource-intensive volley of voice mail or manual email. 

SmartMail can also eliminate the time and effort of carrier employees manually entering data and files into CRM, workflow, document management, or a core system, by instead automatically interfacing the information and files to those applications. The human risk of quality gaps is resolved as well.

The best effect of SmartMail is that by automating the many manual activities required to process inbound email, employees spend more time focusing on vital tasks that directly impact customer satisfaction and your team has the bandwidth for more fulfilling and creative tasks. Customers and other key stakeholders feel the difference in the responsiveness, speed, and transparency.

SmartMail is an easy to implement and customize software with limited IT involvement due to Ushur’s no-code technology.

Use Cases

Property & Casualty

The high volume of forms used across the  Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance journey are the source of delays in the processing of service requests. From providing quotes, to onboarding new customers, updating policies, to processing claims, time spent by operations teams on locating, validating, correcting and then rekeying document content is time misspent. Employees waste hours trying to contact customers and claimants who are disgruntled at the slow speed of an inconvenient process and who are probably sharing their opinions about it on Facebook. 

ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) sets the global forms and data standards for the insurance industry. There are almost 800 ACORD forms in use just for P&C today, facilitating many interactions from applications for new business to reporting a new claim. Some agency management systems (AMS) used by key stakeholders, like agents and brokers, generate these standard outputs as their means of communicating with insurance carriers. 

With the vast array of agency management systems in use, and the complex combination of vendor and internally built core applications within any given insurance company, system-to-system integration between brokers and agents and the carriers they work with is not a given. ACORD forms produced by the agency management system (AMS) may instead reach the carrier via email as a PDF attachment. This places huge pressure on the carrier to have multiple employees constantly monitoring every shared email box. Those carrier employees need to identify the most urgent emails, like a quote submission or report of a new claim. Then they must validate the email and ACORD form contents for any missing or invalid information. The passage of time can mean the sender is no longer at their computer, so the carrier’s request for a complete VIN for an auto policy application, or the date when a customer’s hot water heater bursts, waits for a reply. 

Only once the missing data has been provided can the carrier employee then manually enter the information into the appropriate policy, underwriting, or claim system to even begin the quote, policy change, or claim process. Meanwhile, the customer is waiting for an update since they spoke to their agent, not imagining it could be days before the next step will be initiated. 

The P&C quote and policy process does not only rely on ACORD forms. Businesses, brokers, and agents can also have their own preferred formats to organize employee payroll files, building schedules, and fleet lists. Similarly, P&C claims can be filed using a variety of forms, including state-specific WC first report of injury or motor vehicle accident reports. And the premium audit process will result in payroll, sales, and other data arriving in various file layouts.

Regardless of the format being sent to the carrier, the sender expects immediacy. The carrier needs speed too - for both confirming all required information has been provided, and to get the data into the appropriate core system to create the quote proposal or trigger the underwriter review, assign the claim, or process the premium audit transaction.

Ushur is working with P&C carriers to automate their critical, high volume inbound email, to create the customer experience, operational efficiency, and employee engagement needed in a competitive industry.

Life & Accident

Life and Accident carriers like Irish Life and Unum have whole email triage teams that are responsible for sifting emails by their content, and routing those emails to their logical end location. It’s a time consuming challenge, and it’s complicated by attachments to those emails which need to be manually submitted to backend systems

Companies use valuable employee hours to classify, direct, and glean information from thousands of queries. It’s a repetitive task that can take hours, if not days. The cost to employers isn’t just time. Employees can only do so much before getting burned out, and employee churn costs organizations too. In addition, overworked employees increase the potential for misplaced queries and misfiled information, all at the expense of customer satisfaction.

Before SmartMail by Ushur, Irish Life had to manually work through thousands of email queries every day. Their triage team would open each email, classify it, and send it to the relevant organization within the company. Next, someone from within that department would read through the query and forward it to a pre-identified individual. Finally, the recipient would then open the email query to decide what subsequent action was necessary. Their group might have to manually extract data or respond to the customer with information or further requests. On average, the process could take two and half days or longer. To summarize, without Ushur, Irish Life would have to consult with three teams internally before they reached back out to someone who was either a policyholder or a future customer. Irish Life knew they could do better in terms of both time and experience.

Irish Life was actively searching for a more efficient process when they discovered Ushur and SmartMail. Using SmartMail and its data extraction capabilities, IrishLife created predefined rules within the workflow to determine where documents with specific classifications should be redirected, and used industry-specific machine learning models for index classification based on the content of the email. Ushur then populated that final classification into IrishLife’s backend system.

What are the tradeoffs when it comes to an automation solution like this which is intended to reimagine the customer experience? Surely the system is significantly less accurate than the operations team members who were reviewing each email by hand? Irish Life’s human review process achieved 80% accuracy, and by integrating SmartMail by Ushur, they immediately saw comparable results. Further, while Irish Life saw comparable key classification metrics at the very start of their engagement, going forward, Ushur’s AI-driven SmartMail will classify even more confidently in the future as it reviews additional emails and adds them to its training data.

Irish Life now uses SmartMail for more than 80% of its incoming emails with a vastly improved processing time. While before it took Irish Life agents between 3 hours and 2.5 days to process inquiries and requests, indexing now takes less than a second.

Healthcare

Health insurance companies receive endless numbers of emails with vital information they need to process, some of which is time-sensitive, and all of which should be considered private and confidential. When the operations teams who manage inbound flows receive email, they inevitably have to select the key content from the body of the email and then transfer the vital information from the body of the email or from an attachment to a backend system. Those steps are time-consuming, repetitive, and susceptible to error. In the best of cases, it involves copying information from one digital location and pasting it into another, and at its worst, it’s labor-intensive manual data entry. 

Aside from the grinding minutia of the steps in the process, the speed of manually processing large volumes of incoming email for relevant content is also a terrible bottleneck. Employees who are tasked with this variety of work can only process so many queries in a day and quickly burn out. And if a company is receiving thousands of email requests a day, particularly about health care and its related benefits, delayed response times lead to dissatisfied customers and low Net-Promoter-Scores (NPS).

A rapidly growing Fortune 100 insurance carrier experienced a steady increase in inbound emails - status inquiries, requests for assistance, submission of claim documents and the like. The increase exceeded the corresponding growth in claim volume and policy count. Unanswered email inquiries resulted in 23%+ duplicate follow-up emails and increased inbound call volumes. The carrier was required to triple the headcount focused on opening, reviewing, and routing email, and had to double their call center capacity. Employee satisfaction suffered as the repetitive tasks derailed the development plans for customer-focused professionals hired to impact the health and well-being of members. Turnover in talent further increased operating expenses.

The health plan sought an alternative way to exceed their customers’ need for information and reduce operational expenses. While they had a CRM system that relied upon keyword spotting as the mechanism for identification and routing of email, the solution was costly and resource-intensive to maintain, and was not effective in managing the multiple dimensions of email communication that they sought. Using intelligent automation to create a better, faster and more seamless interaction with customers was their goal.

The carrier chose to partner with Ushur to pilot intelligent automation of claimant engagement through email. SmartMail automatically captures the intent and sentiment of each incoming email through Natural Language Processing (NLP) and triggers an automatic, relevant reply, providing members an immediate response. The automatic reply meets the claimant’s primary need for information and reduces both repeat emails and follow-up phone calls.

The carrier’s inbound email was automatically classified by inquiry type with over 70% accuracy achieved within the first week of training the AI model. After a second round of training, classification exceeded 75% for half of the email types. This high rate of accuracy set the foundation for more thoughtful and relevant automated replies to senders. Based on this rapid success, the carrier is expanding its use of automated email classification. They are also looking to extend their use of intelligent automation for email, to automatically identify and pursue missing information, followed by extracting data from attachments, both to further eliminate duplicative effort and service delays.

The Positive Results of SmartMail

Email automation using SmartMail by Ushur conclusively shortens processing times from days to seconds, and improves customer and employee experience alike. For the many insurers tasked with building a modern and scalable digital experience commensurate with the level of self-service their customers demand, SmartMail delivers the tools your company needs to handle the deluge of emails from every source; customer, employee, agent, broker, and service provider. 

Implement SmartMail to automatically respond to inbox messages, collect vital missing information, forward messages to appropriate teams, transfer data to back-end systems and provide a goldmine of critical information in real-time data analysis and data visualization for every filtered email.

Most importantly, SmartMail is powerful and yet still easy to use. With few IT resources and no need for external technology engineers, your company can get automated customer experience solutions up and running fast. No coding experience is necessary which means that setup and training can happen in a matter of hours, rather than months. Build your optimal, time-saving, email workflow automations with Ushur’s SmartMail solution. Contact us for a demonstration on what we can do for you!

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About Ushur

Ushur delivers the world’s first AI-powered Customer Experience Automation™ platform that has been purpose-built, from the ground up, to intelligently automate entire customer journeys, end to end. Designed to deliver delightful, hyper-personalized customer experiences through rapid issue resolution and unified, omnichannel engagement, Ushur is the first-of-its-kind system of intelligence. It combines Conversational Automation and Knowledge Work Automation in a No-Code, Cloud-native, SaaS platform to digitally transform every step of the complete enterprise customer experience – from Micro-engagements™ to entire customer journeys.

Backed by leading investors including Third Point Ventures, 8VC, Pentland Ventures, Aflac Ventures and Iron Pillar, Ushur’s Customer Experience Automation™ solutions are currently in production at some of the leading insurance providers across the globe including Irish Life, Unum, Aetna, Cigna and Tower Insurance.

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