Where we used to operate in the relative sluggishness of fax machines and pay phones, today we experience life at the heightened pace of Twitter, Instagram and assorted 24/7 communications gadgets.
There are more than 145 million Twitter users in the United States, and 81% of them expect to receive services in a single day. In fact, 30% expect satisfaction within the hour. This demand for speed has provided opportunities and challenges. As a company that protects more than 50 million people worldwide, weve no choice but to keep pace with todays tech-savvy consumer.
Consider these statistics. Aflac pays 6.1 million claims a year or 484,120 claims a month. Thats 121,030 claims a week, 24,206 per day, 3,227 claims an hour or 54 claims per minute. Thats nearly one claim per second. Right now, we pay the majority of claims in four days, which is much faster than what customers who interact with insurance companies are accustomed, but thats now. What about a year from now?
The industry is scrambling to keep pace with the demands created by technology. The impact of big data and an industry-wide focus on consumerism reflecting the impact of the Affordable Care Act have created new paradigms and opportunities. Add regulatory concerns, information gathering and prudent verification of the validity claims and what may look like disarray is actually a controlled response to an ever-evolving ecosystem.
Five years ago, a claim paid in four days was unheard of, while it is gold-standard today. Now that this bar is set, however, todays generation will blow through it like wind through a screen door; If you can do it in four days, why not three, two or even next-day pay?
The industry cant wait around, so we are constantly looking ahead at how to change the game and fast-track claims. At Aflac, weve made moderate staff adjustments to accelerate services, but we also reward employees for taking care of customers. We hold contests and post centrally located visuals showing how many consecutive days where 100% of online claims received by a certain time were paid on the same day received. We try to make it fun, because in addition to delivering on our promise; we want to deliver fast and accurately.
These are interesting times for our industry, which is being challenged in new ways. CIOs and CAOs are becoming closer friends as companies endeavor to give the people what they want. Any one of us can and will be replaced if savvy consumers, whose expectations are high, go unsatisfied.
Daniel is chief administrative officer of Aflac.
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