By: 27 July 2016
Making the right call

Gemma Maroney explains how Hosted Telephony can help claims professionals deliver better customer service

Insurance firms are often among the fastest adopters of technological advances, always keen to improve the accuracy of estimates and deliver better customer service.

This can be seen with Aviva’s Drive Challenge embracing the vast capabilities of the Internet of Things to monitor driver safety, inviting users to download a free app that rates their driving. Those who score highly – i.e. safer drivers – are then rewarded with lower premiums.

Traditionally, claims managers have suffered a bad reputation for complex procedures and poor customer experience, the general perception being that making a claim is a complicated process that has to be endured. Adopting new technologies can certainly help repair this reputation, and hosted telephony could become central to improved customer service.

Heads in the Cloud

Hosted Telephony uses the Cloud to host telecom systems online, removing the need for physical hardware. It is increasingly being adopted by businesses across the UK, as more traditional forms of telephony like ISDN begin to look unsuitable. BT has already started phasing out ISDN and PSTN services – and will be retiring them completely in 2025, as all customers will soon be migrated to broadband connections that are purely dedicated to carrying voice traffic.

Hosted telephone systems, such as Horizon’s Hosted Phone System, come with many features that can boost productivity and enhance overall business operations. Claims professionals will be particularly interested in the following:

  • Excellent Disaster Recovery – Claims managers are well aware of the need for contingency plans, so an effective, instant disaster recovery solution should be music to the industry’s ears. With everything hosted in a centralised data centre in the Cloud, downtime becomes a thing of the past – even if your office becomes totally off-limits – as calls can be easily redirected to other branches or mobile devices, allowing business continuity. The lack of hardware onsite also negates the risk of expensive damage in the event of catastrophe.
  • Free Call Recording ­– It is considered good industry practice to tape sales calls, giving the Financial Ombudsman complete clarity should customer disputes ever arise. Many phone systems charge extra for recording services, but Horizon’s package comes with free call recording as standard, which is a significant benefit given the often prohibitive costs of extra services like Call Recording.
  • IVR (Interactive Voice Response) – This allows customers to reach the right department themselves, with automated messaging that can reduce wait times and cut call queues. Intelligent call routing also means that if an individual or department isn’t available, the customer will be automatically put through to the next person or ‘hunt group’ best placed to deal with their query.
  • Call Management – A receptionist console allows great efficiency for controlling inbound calls, utilising softphone capabilities that empower users to instantly assess availability and route calls via their computer – again reducing call abandonment and improving the customer experience.
  • Virtual Numbering ­– While non-geographic numbering isn’t exactly new, Hosted makes the set-up very simple – and if you ever move premises, the numbers stay with you. You can also get a presence in new areas, creating numbers with regional dialling codes to attract ‘local’ business.

Hosted systems work on a user-per-licence basis; each licence is like an individual channel, so ten licences = ten channels or simultaneous calls. Depending on the type of broadband you use, you can carry multiple channels across a single connection, unlike old-fashioned telephone lines.

The key to success with adopting a hosted system lies in your connection. We recommend dedicated connectivity designed to carry voice traffic, with a high enough bandwidth to cope. Usually this comes in the form of a leased line or a specialist voice connection like Assured broadband, to ensure the right voice quality. This is still significantly cheaper than individual telephone lines, and much, much easier to manage.

Cost-efficiency and scalability

It’s very easy to move away from a legacy system to Hosted Telephony; providing the connectivity is in place, it can be rolled out in a matter of days. New users can be added instantly, with multiple sites linked and managed by a single portal. This cuts down on costs and rationalises operations.

Small firms with big ambitions can expand quickly, taking advantage of the various flexibilities and cost-efficiencies on offer. Taking care of finances comes naturally to the industry, so the adoption of valuable, future-proof systems is expected to continue apace.

In order to flourish, claims professionals must put improving the customer experience at the heart of their efforts, and hosted telephony can help achieve this in multiple ways.

Gemma Maroney is the marketing manager for business communications specialists Solution IP.