For insurers, the path to increasing profitability, strengthening long-term customer loyalty and lowering operational costs lies with digital transformation.

What sets the digital firms apart from those struggling to transform is their focus on strengthening their relationship with customers. And what customers look for are new ways to get things done on their smartphones — and get them done quickly. Insurance customer expectations have been shaped by their digital experiences with sophisticated companies in other sectors, such as Amazon and Uber. Empowering professionals with the right insurance solutions and digitizing the workplace has a direct impact on the quality of the customer experience. Mobile devices and wearables can make life easier for both employees and customers to engage, get information, reduce costs and get their tasks done.

Insurance firms can use mobile technology to deliver faster results and save customers time and money, while also offering them far better experiences. Mobile technology opens opportunities for insurers to be viewed as trusted advisors rather than institutions that protect assets and mitigates financial risks.

A Frost & Sullivan white paper, “Digital Transformation in the Insurance Industry,” created in partnership with Samsung, reports that smartphones are an integral part of digital disruption — their growing capabilities enable competitors to rethink the entire customer experience. Given what’s possible now or in the near future, how can you save customers time, money or effort? How can you increase safety and improve the customer experience?

InsurTech upstarts seek to redefine what customer service means to today’s insurance consumer, while established players are seeking to defend their turf by digitizing their physical presence. Many customers want to quickly get past front line “gatekeepers” to reach true experts, and mobile technology can transform these office-based experts into a mobile workforce by allowing them to connect directly with customers.

Expanding Technology Use Beyond the Smartphone

The insurance industry seems likely to shift toward a wide range of mobile-based technologies and innovations. For example, cameras in vehicles can capture incidents and make it far easier to determine fault. They also could help medical personnel quickly understand how an injury occurred and how to treat it. Health and fitness trackers could reveal a person’s condition just prior to a medical incident, or could even be used to provide evidence of healthy behaviors that justify lower insurance premiums.

Both virtual reality and augmented reality also create opportunities to better educate customers and help keep them safe. Virtual reality opens up a whole new world of safety and training possibilities by creating immersive, realistic situations that are completely safe. Augmented reality allows another layer of information, guidance or warnings to be layered on top of the real world. Think of a teacher or sidekick standing by your side, always there to help. Both of these technologies make it possible for insurance companies to simultaneously protect their customers while also lowering costs.

But not all insurance solutions have to directly impact the customer; some may be internally focused to produce a better external result. For instance, the Samsung Gear VR has the potential to also turn office-based agents or adjusters into a mobile workforce by enabling them to inspect an accident without ever leaving their office.

Insurance companies should also take steps to digitize their brick-and-mortar agencies to enhance the customer experience. By implementing digital solutions in their offices, decisions that used to be made in days or weeks can now be automated and made in minutes, dramatically reducing customer wait times. Digital data will play a large role in enhancing efficiency in the insurance office of the future. For example, according to a report from McKinsey & Company, it is now possible to create an app that can assess many vehicle damage claims (from photos) without ever having to make a customer wait for a physical visit by a claims adjuster. Much as the car rental industry learned to enable rental pickups without ever making a customer wait in line, insurance firms need to enable the same sort of seamless “self” service.

Implementing AI and Mobile for Smarter Claims

One statistic that caught my eye in the Frost & Sullivan white paper was that “82 percent of global insurers say that AI-driven automation will be seamlessly embedded into every aspect of their business by 2021.” That would be a sweeping change over a four-year period.

As is the case in every industry, to maximize the benefits of AI, you need to layer mobile solutions on top of them. It makes no sense to empower your workforce in the office with heaps of data, but abandon them once they’re on the road, face-to-face with customers. If your employees can’t easily access the right information when they need, it ultimately ends up being rendered as useless data.

In a world in which cars park — and perhaps even drive — themselves, mobile insurance solutions are vitally important. Intelligence and technology are becoming a central part of all the vehicles and tools we use, and the industry that insures them needs to be just as smart.

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