Organizations like property and casualty insurance companies, utilities and other businesses that help people recover from natural disasters are gearing up for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1. Everyone is hoping it’s not as active as last year’s hurricane season, which was among the most destructive on record, with six major hurricanes and more than $280 billion in damages.
Recovery is still ongoing in many areas, notably Puerto Rico. But hurricanes aren’t the only danger to lives and property that insurers must address. Wildfires can occur at any time of the year, especially under drought conditions and when winds are high. Floods occur year-round and can cause catastrophic damage, as can tornados, hail, blizzards and a range of other weather-related events.
Organizations that need to urgently communicate with customers or employees before and after a weather event often encounter difficulties because they don’t have the contact information they need. Either the data they have is out of date, or they’re using a channel (work email addresses, landlines, etc.) that the people they’re trying to contact aren’t monitoring during the emergency.
After a disaster, organizations encounter even more difficulties in communicating. Customers may have left the area or are in a location where the infrastructure suffered significant damage. Organizations that are trying to move crews into place to address the damage often have trouble mobilizing their people because of communication breakdowns and difficulty visualizing conditions on the ground.
Big Data, Small Data and AI to the Rescue
Fortunately, it’s possible to plan ahead, gather needed data and deploy technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualization tools, to enable critical communication when seconds count. For businesses like property and casualty insurance companies, using the right technology assets can enable communication with customers before and after disaster strikes.
It all starts with data. Companies that need to communicate with customers (or staff) during an emergency should prepare by gathering small data, such as complete contact information, making sure to distinguish between cell phone and landline numbers. They’ll also need to get permission to make contact and ask which channels people prefer, e.g., text, email, voicemail, social media, etc.
With the small data taken care of through pre-disaster outreach and data cleanup projects, organizations can put big data and AI to work before and after a disaster to communicate with customers and employees. Insurance companies can reach out to customers who are in an area threatened by a disaster, providing helpful information on making a claim.
Sorting customer information by ZIP code to pinpoint customers in the path of danger, insurers can use big data and AI to send automated messages via the channel customers prefer, reminding them to move to a safe location and including tips on what documentation they’ll need to file claims and instructions on how to contact the insurance company once the danger has passed.
This type of outreach is helpful to both customers and the companies that send the communication. It can help insurers avoid losses by warning customers of impending danger, and instructions help customers receive the prompt service they need after a disaster strikes. Personalized outreach also helps strengthen the bond between brands and the customers they serve.
Once the immediate danger has passed, organizations like utilities, claims adjusters, emergency response teams, etc., need to deploy field crews. A software solution that can harness AI, advanced data visualization capabilities and mass communications tools can deliver the information decision-makers need with speed and accuracy.
Big data is essential, but information alone isn’t enough — decision-makers need to be able to visualize it to make the right calls and communicate with affected stakeholders. For example, after a hurricane has moved through an area, power restoration and civil engineering crews may be on hand, but without an accurate view of conditions on the ground, it’s impossible to deploy assets effectively.
A weather event that knocks out power and damages infrastructure can delay recovery efforts, leaving customers stranded and crews idled just when the need for help is most acute. However, a data visualization app that takes in big data from multiple sources can provide clarity on conditions on the ground, allowing leaders to make informed decisions.
Picture utility team leaders with several power restoration crews in a disaster zone. Data pouring in from social media, weather services and other sources can help them pinpoint which crews to send to address specific sites with infrastructure damage. But data visualization tools that show conditions in real time, such as road and bridge closures, can help them take decisive action immediately.
The Secret Sauce Is Simplicity
Emergency management tools that integrate big and small data and leverage the power of crowd knowledge and AI can provide critical information that can be visualized and understood in seconds. The ability to send mass communications is also important. Automated voice messages can deliver catastrophe warnings, post catastrophe service updates, office closure notifications and much more.
Speed and accuracy are important, but simplicity is the secret sauce. A software platform that integrates all of these elements and allows the people who are managing critical events to visualize complex, evolving factors in real time can be a game-changer. Whether communicating with customers or employees, when seconds count, big data and AI are indispensable allies.
About the Author
A serial innovator, published author, Founder and CEO of SPLICE Software, Tara Kelly is passionate about technology’s potential to change lives for the better. She has consistently channeled that belief into developing technologies that enhance operations, enable better service delivery, and improve the customer experience. This has resulted in creating three customer experience companies and turning an innovative idea into a patented, proprietary technology (US Patent Number 9348812) that harnesses data streams to create personalized, automated messages. SPLICE solutions were included in Gartner’s “Cool Vendors in Insurance, 2016” report and Forrester’s “IoT and Analytics Startups Can Turn Insurers into the ‘Good Guys’” brief.
About The Company
SPLICE Software creates stronger connections and improves the customer experience by delivering personalized messages to your customers via their channels of choice, at the most critical points along the customer journey. Our cloud-based Dialog Suite™ uses Big Data & Artificial Intelligence to deliver Data-Driven Dialogs® that can be leveraged across phone, SMS messaging, and AI-assisted devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. It’s just part of how SPLICE combines art & science to help you connect with your clients in new ways. Our award-winning Suite enables Retailers, Insurance companies, and Financial Services rms to collect and manage customers’ permissions and preferences so you can personalize, communicate, test, and measure like never before.