Delivering choice, convenience and personalized service in the digital age
Considered the first smart phone, IBM’s Simon Personal Computer was available to consumers in 1994, over a decade before Apple’s first iPhone. Smartphones put information at the fingertips of millions of consumers and today, people use smartphones to research, shop and purchase any number of products and services, including insurance, according to their individual needs, wants and preferences.
Unsurprisingly, technology has evolved, so has consumer expectations on what organizations should be able to deliver, at a moment’s notice. Whether they are comparing renter’s insurance quotes, filing an auto claim or finding a specialist in their area, consumers expect insurers to communicate with them on a personalized, relevant and contextual basis.
However, keeping pace with today’s digitally-enabled consumer is extremely challenging for many insurers as customer devices and expectations are ever-changing.
Providing blended experience
Digital consumers are not prepared to cut insurers any slack; they expect the same kind of customer experiences from insurers as they are already enjoying with retailers, banks and airlines. However, these same consumers look for a blended online and offline experience to meet their needs.
On the digital side, many consumers are disappointed at the level of access, personalization and communication being provided by the insurance process.
Insurers admit there is more work to be done. Consider these telling findings from a survey of international insurance companies conducted by EY:
almost 80% of insurers don’t see themselves as digital leaders.
the majority believe they ‘only play the digital game’ or are ‘still learning to use digital capabilities’ for a competitive advantage
What about the offline or in-person experience? A recent study from Forrester on CX trends for US home and auto insurance showed that even the digital-savvy consumer wants to talk to a real person when a claim escalates; not a chatbot, not an IVR system.
Common challenges for insurers
Why are insurance organizations having such a difficult time adopting an approach and delivering the blended customer experience today’s consumer wants?
External factors, such as regulatory changes, pressures from disruptors and competitors, information security and other external pressures can get in the way of making significant strides in improving the customer experience.
There are also a few internal factors. In that same EY survey, insurers reported that the top three inhibitors of digital adoption were:
Without question, the complex combination of existing technology infrastructure, and legacy systems and databases, affects virtually every insurance company. Legacy systems create a significant barrier for insurers when it comes to supporting modern communications. To combat this issue, organizations look for legacy service enablement technologies to try and minimize big core system changes, as well as looking at solutions to offload work from the mainframe, get insight into the customer data that exists across the business and extract insights that transform the business and the customer experience.
Despite these external and internal challenges, insurers recognize that the customer experience must be an aggregate of all touchpoints and communications; a personalized, timely, multi-channel and multi-touch approach is the only thing today’s consumer will accept.
How to make it happen
To deliver a best-in-class customer experience, consider the communication processes in a new way. Meaning, approach communications in a manner that transcends functional, business-unit and channel boundaries.
Evaluate where you can find customer data within your business. You can make changes to the customer experience using the data you already have, if you can get access to it and harness that information to inform changes to the customer journey, the channels you use, how you communicate and communication process itself to make every touchpoint count and add value.
The old retail adage “the customer remembers the service longer than the price” remains true today across many industries, including insurance. Audit your communications and find ways to simplify complex insurance jargon, transform templates into highly-personalized, contextualized content.
Empower employees across the organization by providing them with information, tools and the skills to change how they work – automating or simplifying processes, using technology to complete menial tasks, so they can free up their time to interact with each customer on a more personalized level. In turn, your customers feel like they are in control of the relationship, enhancing the connection and loyalty your clients feel with your organization.
The reality is that in the insurance business there are a limited number of customer touch points to create an impact and move the relationship forward. Scenarios such as buying a policy, onboarding, making a claim or policy renewals are opportunities to demonstrate outstanding service and transform the customer experience.