The market landscape for insurance companies is more complex than ever. There is no doubt that the ability to deliver on customer expectations is a key component in improving customer loyalty and boosting conversions.
However, this is easier said than done. Customer preferences have shifted significantly, with individuals expecting insurance companies to deliver an experience that is personalised, streamlined, and offers a mix of technology and human interaction.
Against this challenging backdrop, and with such varied experience expectations, insurance companies need to ensure they deliver customer service that puts the customer at the heart of their strategy. Below, we outline some of the most important areas to focus on to achieve this aim.
1. Train your team
The strength of your customer service is directly linked to your team. While new technological advances can streamline administration and provide opportunities for enhanced collaboration, the technology should enhance your human agents, not replace them. The technology you have at your disposal is only as powerful as the humans behind it.
Advisers need relevant training so that they feel equipped, supported, and able to provide customers with the value they deserve. Your customer strategy should involve providing adequate training for advisers so that they can use new digital tools with ease and confidence.
In this way, they are able to consistently deliver exceptional customer service that boosts customer satisfaction.
2. Deliver a positive overall experience
The overall experience that customers have needs to be positive, but what customers want can vary from person to person. This means that insurance providers need to be able to adapt their service according to the individual customer in order to offer a personalised experience.
While some customers may be happy with self-service digital tools, others might have more complex needs and require a hands-on, high-touch approach. Even with the same customer, the level of service and interaction they require can change depending on the specific situation.
What is more, with many digital-first options out there, customers will punish those providers who do not match their service expectations. In fact, four in five customers say they would change their insurance carriers if they fail to offer a user-friendly interface (PwC). As insurance industry players have caught onto the strength of this preference, the emphasis on stand-out customer services has accelerated. For the majority of firms, improving customer experience is now a strategic priority (Forrester), and consistency is necessary to achieve this.
3. Provide tailored, flexible insurance solutions
Insurance customer service needs to be flexible to adjust to what each specific customer needs. When applied to everyday insurance processes, disruptive uses of AI-powered automation of underwriting and claims make customer experiences more convenient – all while cutting down overhead costs.
Clearcover, a US digital insurer, has developed an AI-based claims process that can rapidly approve coverage and fast-track payments for eligible claims. That means the process can be carried out through a handy mobile app, from filing the claim to receipt of payment.
By offering a more agile service, insurance companies can better address the variety of needs that customers have. Customers want tailored policies that offer specific coverage without extras they do not need. For example, why would they pay for a full premium if they are low-risk and have never made a claim?
Insurers that put their customer first are those that offer a flexible service, modifying offerings to fit each customer and their unique demands.
4. Offer a streamlined journey
No customer wants to be handed around between advisers or has to wait on hold for an indeterminate amount of time to then be transferred to someone else. They want a streamlined journey that moves from one touchpoint to another without friction. Instead of leaving customers waiting in a queue, digital tools make communication more efficient and empower a single agent to handle one person’s claim.
One compelling industry case is UK car insurance startup Cuvva, which offers an app-based sign-up, quote offer, and coverage purchase process. Avoiding the need for lengthy application forms, customers send a picture of themself, their driver’s license, and their vehicle, which is aggregated alongside app-collected geolocation data and government data. Not only can the entire process be completed in a matter of minutes, but customers can volunteer to track the quality of their driving – and get a reduced fee depending on their statistics.
5. Give customers a choice of channels
Customers want choice. They are asking for a mix of digital and in-person channels, with the option to use either or both when the situation calls for it. Self-service may be great for certain needs, but insurance customers must always feel that human help is there for them – be it in-branch or via their mobile app.
To increase customer touchpoints and ensure each interaction is positive, insurers should use multiple different communication channels. An omnichannel experience that incorporates diverse digital tools means the customer’s demands are met at each stage, from onboarding right through to the final claim.
But digital tools are just one piece of the puzzle in today’s customer expectation landscape. While digital experiences have rapidly become synonymous with progress, the reality of many insurance journeys is not as simple as “just self-service” or “just remote” interactions. A growing customer base favours a “multi-access” method of engagement comprising both online and offline channels.
This evolution in customer expectations makes engagement more complex. Unless you embrace a multi-access approach, one customer's behaviour may even appear to contradict another.
According to McKinsey, among consumers surveyed in Germany, 84% use digital channels to engage with their insurers, but 55% said they would not buy a policy online. That is not to say that digital hesitancy is rife among over half of the insurance customers. Rather, it paints a picture of multi-access preferences.
A customer might use a website or app to research insurance policies or claims, and then switch channels to complete the task. This multi-access route is most common, with one in two customers using a combination of in-person, phone, online, and chat channels to contact their insurer (McKinsey).
6. Strike a balance with a hybrid approach
In terms of choosing between traditional person-to-person conversation and Artificial Intelligence self-service tools, it is all about striking the right balance. Customers want the reassurance of talking to a friendly adviser over the phone, but sometimes digital options like email and live chat are more convenient.
This multi-access approach does better address customer demands, but it can lack efficiency. Instead of simply offering multiple points of contact, insurance companies should provide fully realised hybrid experiences that offer all the benefits of multi-access but in a more streamlined, and digitally sophisticated manner.
With a fully hybrid approach, customers can complete a claims process independently via online services, while also having the option to contact a customer service agent for help at any point throughout the journey.
The agent, in turn, can offer to escalate the communication channel as and when needed to provide better support. For example, the communication may begin with Live Chat, then a phone call, and eventually escalate to a video meeting with a real insurance adviser.
However, with a full hybrid method of engagement, the adviser can also launch a Co-Browsing session to manage more complex areas along the customer journey map, such as onboarding or policy renewal. In these instances, the specialist can browse documents or the internet with the customer to offer a fully personalised service that adapts to each customer’s needs.
7. Make every interaction a moment of truth
Unlike banks, customers rarely interact with their insurers – and often do so in moments of high stress. This makes it doubly important not only to increase the frequency of touchpoints but to ensure that all interactions leave customers with a positive perception of their insurer.
Beyond ensuring a positive experience, whenever a person gets in contact with their insurance provider, it could be a potential moment of truth in improving the relationship with their provider.
8. Learn to listen to your customers
This brings us to our last point, which is that insurance companies must learn to listen to their customers, observing the entire customer journey from their point of view.
Once again, there are a few reasons why this is important. The first is it is the only way to understand where any problems lie in the insurer’s digital experience and correct them. By identifying what creates a positive customer journey, you can then translate this into concrete improvements in your service. This means using customer insights and analytics to redesign journeys to make them more customer-centric, as well as incorporating diverse digital tools.
Alongside this, by listening to your customers, you can identify what services they genuinely respond to. The data gained from all service interactions, including conversion statistics, can tell you what your customers care about and what offers or products future customers are most likely to respond to.
This leads to an important feedback loop that can allow insurance companies to continually refine their customer service experience and offer improved products and services that customers will respond to.
Insurance customer experience and Unblu
Unblu works alongside the insurance industry to ensure providers have the digital tools to deliver a superior customer experience that makes meaningful interactions a priority. By providing insurance solutions that ensure a consistently positive customer experience, providers can grow faster and enjoy improved sales over time.
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