24 Jan Texting Speeds Up Claims Process for Third-Party Claims
Making personal contact. That’s priority number one in moving a third-party property damage claim forward and resolving it with success. But what happens when your claimant doesn’t open their emails, won’t answer a phone call, or denies having received any communication?
That’s the problem facing many claim reps – and one that ultimately causes problems for the businesses we serve and frustrating delays for the claimant. Fleet Response piloted a solution with a new text message program – and now it’s being expanded to more customers as texting proves its worth by helping to resolve claims faster and bring a smile to the claimant’s face.
As a Specialized Auto Third Party Administrator (TPA), we’ve made it our mission to continually up our game, becoming more innovative and more effective at skillfully managing claims and repairs for third-party property damages.
So, when clients started asking for new tools to improve the claims process – we listened. In 2022, we launched a text messaging program to capitalize on the short, succinct communication we have all come to love in texting.
We found that customers like these “short and sweet” messages introducing their claim rep, giving claim status updates, setting up a preferred date and time for phone calls, providing information on documents needed, and sending notifications when a claim closes or payment is issued.
On top of that, texting gets responses. A text message reaches the claimant faster and with a better response rate than emails or phone calls.
Stats on texting prove its power:
- 92% of US adults carry text-enabled phones
- 85% of customers prefer receiving texts rather than a phone call or email
- 95% of texts from businesses are read within three minutes of being sent
Texting clearly gets attention. especially when compared with the open/read rate of emails and phone calls, where the read/answer rate is more like 20-30%.
“Our claims reps don’t get a lot of response from emails, which have been our main source of communication with claimants,” says Erika Kirkman, a Fleet Response third-party claims supervisor with 26 years of experience. “People often don’t answer phone calls or open their emails, so we need some kind of follow up to make sure the information was received and action was taken. Once they opt into the texts, we know our messages are getting through. And it’s so much simpler – they can just glance at their phone.”
Texting has become a go-to mode of communication and Fleet Response is riding that wave. For businesses that might be concerned about the legality of texting customers, there is nothing to worry about. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), companies that have an existing business relationship with a customer simply need to give them the option to opt out.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
Time is of the essence in third-party claims. When a claimant can’t be reached, that delays the entire process and creates frustration that simply compounds an already emotional situation. “Claimants want a response yesterday,” says Mary Sittnick, a third-party claims supervisor with Fleet Response. “They don’t want to feel neglected or as if no one is taking care of them or taking their claim seriously. The faster the response, the happier they are.”
Sittnick reports that claimants are pleased with the initial roll-out of text messages sent to initiate the claims process – and she’s excited by new features that allow Fleet Response reps to send other types of messages at various status points in the claims process.
These one-way text messages share timely and critical information with the claimant, such as:
- their claims rep contact info and claim number
- a response is needed to an email or voicemail
- how to submit more information, documentation or photos needed to complete a claim
- repairs have been approved and contact info provided to set up repair shop appointment
- a claim is under review for liability and updates will be sent
- payment has been issued for damages with check to be expected in X number of days
KEEPING THE PERSONAL TOUCH
With the roll-out of texting, there is yet another message to be told. At Fleet Response, it will never replace the personal connection that only a claims rep can provide. This is especially true during the first phases of the program, as it is limited to one-way text messaging that doesn’t allow the customer to respond.
“Personal contact is still a big part of what we do, especially when dealing with an accident,” explains Sittnick. “People are very emotionally attached to their automobiles. Beyond the details and damages, there’s a lot of emotion behind these incidents. We need to establish a personal rapport, especially with a customer who is not our client – they’re someone who has been affected by our client. It’s super important to make that connection. You can’t replace that with a text message, but it’s perfect for short updates and staying in touch during the claims process.”
MORE TEXTING INNOVATIONS TO COME
Fleet Response plans to continually innovate, adding more texting features based on what clients need. That may include two-way texting, the ability to send documents, photos or videos, even perhaps set up rental vehicles or provide reps with “read receipts” showing that the claimant has read the text.
The pilot program has been an excellent tool for gauging response and planning for next stages. Claims supervisor Kirkman already reports that claimants have personally reached out to say thank you for offering the text message service. “It’s an efficient way to do things. For me, I’d rather answer a two-second text rather than have to do follow-up with a company. But it’s not replacing personal contact. The text messages can prompt a phone call and move the claim forward. Ultimately, its about resolving claims faster and improving the bottom line for our customers.”
And supervisor Sittnick sees the texting program as another way that Fleet Response provides tailor-made claims service. “Over the 16 years I’ve been with Fleet Response, I’ve seen us do a really good job staying at the forefront of technology in claims handling. We make it easier for our clients to get information without having to call someone. They can log into our VISIBILILTY portal and see all their open claims, the documents, photos, rep notes. Texting is one more thing in our bucket that makes us different. We’re not cookie-cutter. We don’t tell our client one way to do things. We ask the client about their needs and how we can best serve them. That’s what sets us apart.”
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