Travel is Back. But Perhaps Not as You Know It.

Last week took me from the Silicon Prairie to the beautiful beaches of Sarasota. It was a collection of firsts. This was the first face to face team meeting since I joined Care Bridge International as our Chief Innovation Officer. It was the first flight I have taken in over a year. It was also the first time I had been away from my son, Griffin, born on October 28th, 2020. In many respects, whilst this was a step back into what used to be incredibly familiar territory, it felt now more like a step into the unknown. With my bags packed, I set off for my 6am flight out of Omaha, Nebraska. Masks and hand sanitizer at the ready, this would turn out to be a trip that started full of trepidation and ended with a keen sense of optimism for what is to come. As I mentioned, this was our first in-person team meeting in over a year. People flew in from across the US, with the rest of the group local to Florida. Suitably, given the circumstances, meetings were taken on the beach and in the local restaurants, making the most of the sunshine and outside dining.

It was a wonderful couple of days spent with the team and reinforced my belief that whilst we have come a long way with remote work and interaction, there isn't anything quite like being face-to-face. The serendipity and creative inspiration that comes from face-to-face interaction and conversation is difficult to replicate across the digital divide.

The ad-hoc interaction, laughter, brain-storming and general feeling of optimism, passion and camaraderie is very difficult to replicate across the digital divide.

A Time to Reflect

I wanted to take you through a journey of sorts in this post. Share some thoughts and observations that I developed over the past week. Like a lot of us, I traveled a lot in 2019. Probably more than I ever have in my career. This time around it had a newer, brighter air of efficiency around it. Putting on my Lean Six Sigma hat, it felt like a lot of the extraneous waste that had come with travel in the past, was now being eliminated and instead replaced with increasingly digitized processes, driving a newfound efficiency and frictionless customer experience that somehow felt just right.

A New Beginning

Boarding my flight in Omaha, I had already prepared myself for what was certain to be a flight unlike any other I had taken in the past. Plenty of warning signs, indicating that, yes, masks are required to board, were in plain sight for all to see. No confusion there!

On board, things were also different. Gone were the airline trolley carts of old, replaced now by a solitary plastic bag containing water, hand sanitizer and a few small snacks. Through my lean focused lens, I couldn't help but admire the efficiency of it all. Quick, easy, seamless. Minimal fuss.


I was also impressed by how the Delta airline staff enforced the new rules that we are all living by at this moment it time. It isn't easy to tell somebody that their mask isn't on correctly, but correct people they did, with a level of empathy and customer service that would make Walt Disney himself proud. Again, an exemplary experience.

The New Normal (or maybe not) - Snack Bags

Final Observations

After a wonderful couple of days, I wanted to share a few thoughts around what stood out to me. I don't think travel will ever be the same, but that's OK.

Instead of fragmentation and anger, I saw togetherness and a willingness to learn and come together as a community.

Frustration and antagonism replaced with patience and understanding. To the Delta crew - well done. a wonderful job, across the board. Consistency of execution and exemplary customer service. Timely reminders, without being authoritarian.

Compassion and Understanding

Perhaps what really stood out most of all was our willingness, in the face of adversity, to be patient, with one another. Coming through the tumultuous times of 2020, I am more optimistic than ever that underneath the fragmented and chaotic scenes, there is a kinder, more forgiving version of who we are. Yes, the world will continue to move at a rapid pace and the frustrations that plague our day to day lives will come back with a vengeance, but for now let's continue to embrace that little bit of togetherness and community that helped us work through 2020 as a collective team.

Digital Transformation & Lean

I think we have all become accustomed to QR codes replacing restaurant menus. The traditional paper-based format now seems outdated. The speed and efficiency, however, of the fully digitized end-to-end take-out experience, is another indication of where we are heading as a digital-enabled society. We have of course seen this already in other areas - the Amazon Go stores, driven by "Just Walk Out" technology, have been delivering a touch-less shopping experience for the past couple of years. This week saw the opening of the first Amazon Go store in the UK. An attempt to help drive a new type of customer shopping experience and boost lackluster physical store sales. Using intelligent computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion technologies as those found in self-driving cars, Amazon has made the frictionless check-out experience a reality.

Touchless ordering, a seamless check-out experience is becoming more prominent as physical stores dream up new and more effective ways to streamline and enhance the shopping and dining experience.

Lean Six Sigma & Insurance

Lean is learning to see waste. The moment you begin to see waste, everything else will take care of itself. Until you don't see waste in everything, you don't understand Lean - Paul Akers

As a Lean Six Sigma green belt, it has become a bit of an obsession to identify waste in everything. From an insurance point of view, that means looking at things not only through the eyes of the customer, but also the worker, the employee, the insurance professional who is only as good as the tools they are provided with. When you look at the end-to-end insurance lifecycle with the broad objective of reducing waste, removing friction, and ultimately driving a better customer experience, it becomes a constant ask of: How can this be done better? Why are they doing it that way? Understanding insurance operations becomes a daily Gemba walk

Taking the time to watch how a process is done and talking with those who do the job.

At Care Bridge International, we take a similar approach to understanding the claims journey for our customers and their customers. How can we leverage people, process, technology, and data to improve an outcome, to deliver a better all-around claims experience?

When we built and released our Covid-19 Calculator last year, the goal was to create a tool, a platform that people could use quickly, with minimal fuss, to get insight around their own Covid-19 diagnoses. Using millions of data points around medical claim data, we could accurately assess the severity of the outcome and forecast the sort of treatment one might expect looking into the future.

Delta & The Airline Experience

A final word for Delta and the airport staff who did an amazing job. The planes and airports were clean, and the staff kept everything moving at a decent pace.

I hope trolleys don't make a comeback. Big, unwieldy, inefficient. Water and snacks in a plastic bag worked just as well, if not better. I did miss my tea and biscuits, however.

The Future of Customer Service - People

During our team meeting, we talked a lot about the Disney Institute. The concept of creating an exceptional customer experience. Creating and forging positive memories that make people feel treasured and cared for. Insurance is no different. People want to feel like they are looked after and will be cared for at their time of need. This is a combined effort - leveraging people and technology at the right point and time on the insurance journey. The technology is a key enabler, yet, the empathy comes from real people, working on the front lines and behind the scenes. Positive memories created for and by people. For Disney, automation comes in many forms. The one that stands out for me is the RFID driven Magic Band - a transformative wearable device that lets guests reserve their favorite attractions, purchase merchandise and doubles as a room key and entrance ticket to parks. This sort of technology also means Disney cast members now have additional time to spend making that Disney customer experience exceptional and not just OK.

More than ever, we are all witnessing an acceleration of digital activity, a wave of digitization that is coming at us faster than ever before.

Walk, Run, Sprint

Where are you on your digital journey?

It’s a question we often see and hear across the insurance industry and one that we frequently discuss with our customers at Care Bridge International. The pace of digital change is rapid. Intelligent Automation, Blockchain, Chatbots, Big Data, Machine Learning, AI, the list goes on and on. There is a lot to digest.

At Care Bridge International, we recently launched our #walkrunsprint campaign to help companies get started on their own digital journey. Our goal? To help companies across the insurance industry to make the shift to digital easily, cost-effectively, and quickly. Keep an eye out for future articles that dive into the Walk, Run, Sprint methodology and how we can help you get started on your own digital journey in a way.

In the meantime, take a walk with us through our Quick Referral process, where in a matter of minutes and a handful of clicks, you can submit a Quick Referral and be part of the BridgeIT ecosystem. It’s easy, fast, and seamless.

As always, reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to discuss your own digital transformation initiatives. Always here to help.

If you would like to learn more about Care Bridge’s simple Walk, Run, Sprint approach to digital transformation for Claims, that can save you 70% or more right now, Contact Us and Follow our LinkedIn Page

Join Us Each Wednesday for CAREForwardLIVE!

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