According to a survey conducted by Forrester, and Heidrick & Struggles, 84% of Customer Experience (CX) pros said that their insurance firms place CX as a higher priority than two years ago. 76% of the executives surveyed said that improving CX is a high or critical priority.
With this level of conviction, the customer experience these insurance organizations are delivering must be outstanding.
But the reality is, while insurers have made significant strides in improving CX… according to customers, it’s not there yet. In fact, in a recent study where consumers were asked to compare the CX experience of companies in 2018 vs. in 2017, people overwhelming felt there was essentially no difference.
Even well-known brands, across a variety of industries, seem to have reached a ceiling with their CX experience.
So why has progress stalled, despite all the efforts and initiatives carriers are implementing? In most cases, there are two.
1. Employees are not engaged in delivering CX
To achieve the customer experience your insurance organization has envisioned it takes a customer-centric culture. To achieve a customer-centric culture it takes engaged employees. Unfortunately, engaged employees is a problem in most organizations, insurance-related or otherwise.
How much of a problem?
A Gallup Research study revealed that in the US just 33% of the workforce is engaged. Worldwide this number is even lower—just 13%. Bad employee engagement leads to bad customer experiences.
Enhancing customer experience isn’t the only reason insurance firms should want to improve employee engagement.
Willis Towers Watson found that companies with low employee engagement scores had an average one-year operating margin of less than 10% while those with high employee engagement scores had margins of more than 27%. In other words, when employee engagement is strong it translates into bottom line gains for companies.
The good news is this – it will get easier. In fact, Celent surveyed insurance innovation leaders and asked if innovation has become easier, about the same or more difficult in 2018 compared to the previous year. 42% of respondents said innovating has become easier since the previous year, and 48% expected it to be easier to innovate within their organization in the future.
2. Companies don’t own every part of the CX ecosystem
Even if every employee in your insurance organization was engaged and the firm was 100% customer-centric in its approach, the customer experience might still not be perfect. That’s because it’s very difficult for any insurance company to have control of the entire customer experience ecosystem.
Within that ecosystem there are many players—some within your organization that aren’t necessarily tied to your division and, of course, partners who have no affiliation to your organization at all but remain part of that complex ecosystem. If those partners aren’t aligned with your customer-centric approach and don’t appreciate the customer experience you’re trying to deliver, they can affect your CX efforts.
What can be done?
Insurers can invest where their customer experience starts—with their employees. Ensuring your employees are engaged and empowered with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful is critical to your organization being able to deliver the optimal customer experience.
This can be tackled on two fronts: with new hires and existing employees.
Engage your new employees
With new employees, you can boost employee engagement right from the get-go with your onboarding process. A well-structured onboarding process can have a huge impact on employee engagement.
The onboarding process must go beyond the basics to truly build a connection between your company’s customer-centric culture and the new team members.
- Focus on your mission and values
- Reinforce how a new hire’s role in the company impacts the customer
- Enable collaboration with other employees across the organization
Another way to go beyond the basics is to not treat onboarding as a one-and-done exercise. Make it a longer, more enriching process—six months to a year in duration. Lengthening the onboarding process makes even more sense when you consider that in one survey, 500 HR professionals said it can take up to eight months for new employees to reach their full productivity.
To further strengthen the onboarding process, assign a buddy or mentor to each new hire and ensure managers are actively involved, regularly holding meetings and providing each new employee with very clear and measurable goals.
By taking all of these steps, your organization’s new hires will feel welcomed, valued and more enthusiastic and passionate about their work. As a result, their engagement level will be higher, and they will want to deliver the best customer experience they can.
Engage your current employees
When it comes to existing employees and customer experience, there are generally three types of employees:
The Unengaged: they don’t know why they should be paying attention to CX and they don’t know how to incorporate the customer perspective into their decision making.
The Unfocused: they might read reports and receive some data and there is interest, but they really don’t know how to act on the information.
The Underutilized: already an avid user of data and insight. They want to take the customer experience to the next level but don’t have the tools they need.
To enable these three types of employees to deliver the best customer experience they can, you need to motivate them in different ways.
To motivate unengaged employees, help them realize how important customer experience is to the business by demonstrating the potential ROI and how detrimental bad customer experience could be to the organization.
For the unfocused employee, motivate them to become more engaged by presenting them with actionable insights. Connect various data points to help them identify issues and solutions, and then demonstrate how solving these issues will have a positive impact on both customers and the overall business.
The key with under utilized employees is to provide them with the information, support and tools they need to take the customer experience to the next level. Doing so will give them a sense of partnership and encourage them to become even more proactive and will likely lead to uncovering new opportunities.
Engage your CX ecosystem partners
Many of the players in the CX ecosystem have a role in elevating the customer experience. However, they might misunderstand the role they play in it, and unintentionally take actions that sometimes clash with your CX goals. To address these issues, there are three key considerations:
Assess and align CX ecosystem players
Assess each one of the players in your CX ecosystem and rate them on how aligned or unaligned they are with your CX goals at each step of the customers' journey. Remember to include agents and brokers, underwriters, claims adjusters and external partners like body shop repair partners.
Show each stakeholder how they impact CX
Book a meeting with each of the players who are unaligned with your CX goals and use techniques like ecosystem maps to show them how they can really impact your CX experience. Provide them with refinements they can make to align them with the experience you’re trying to deliver for your customers, and if possible, make it easier for them to implement those changes while providing them with information about the customer – their behaviors, needs and preferences.
Provide the tools and guidance needed
Equip the stakeholders in your CX ecosystem with basic CX reference and design materials so they have what they need to reflect and reinforce the CX experience you want to produce. Share updates frequently and exchange best practices, learnings from experiences and updates.