The insurance industry has been under continual change sparked from competitive pressures for decades. The macro trends are not new but the intensity is increasing. The pandemic forced many companies to rapidly engage with their customers in new ways and invest in digital channels to service their customers. While large carriers doubled down, many agencies and brokers are playing catch up with investments in technology to better interact with and serve their customers.
Technology itself offers only part of the solution and requires strong alignment to a set of business objectives with clear measures to be successful. While this seems basic, many investments are still reactionary and poorly planned. A recent Mckinsey & Co. study showed that larger, but more targeted technology investments by insurers resulted in better returns.
We believe that these investments need to squarely be aimed at your customers and their experience. This lens is critical when evaluating if an investment will move your business forward and help you to acquire, retain and grow customers.
CONTINUED READING: Steps to building customer loyalty
What insurance customers really want
So if customers are the key, let’s start with what they want. We often focus solely on personal lines when we talk about concepts of customer experience or customer journeys in the insurance industry. Truth is, individuals, groups, and people working at companies all want the same things. They want “easy”. They want to transact when they want, on the channel they want, and they want a quick resolution to their need—whether that’s simply information, to purchase, to make changes to their policy, or to enter a claim.
Let’s distill this down into three themes:
- Digital, automated but personalized: Insurance customers want to interact with agents, brokers, and insurers on the channel of their choice. They want to leverage digital services, particularly via mobile devices, and they deal with a real person, they want that interaction personalized. They want whoever responds to them to have context of their situation, their policies, and provide advice—not just transactional service. While customers want the freedom of fully digital and automated journeys, they also want empathy. Technology can provide the interfaces, the automation, (and with AI) even the personalized interactions. Moreover, technology can help professionals and service reps deliver a more personal and empathetic customer experience.
- Going beyond products and related services: Insurers have long ago diversified their offerings beyond insurance. Whether providing wealth and investment products or risk analysis services, the need to find new lines of revenue has driven significant to traditional insurers. What about the customer lens? As products and services become more commoditized, customers want more value. They will gravitate to the best provider they can find. However, convenience drives much of customer purchase behaviour whether personal or commercial. Digital channels can provide a marketplace feel to your diversified offerings for passive browsing, but a data-driven marketing strategy can help you deliver personalized service, utilizing customer data (policies, personal, or business details, interactions, and market data) to position new offerings and provide advisory content.
- Trust and the trusted advisor: Ensuring your platforms and solutions meet governance and compliance requirements is a critical but baseline need. Customers expect their data to be protected, but also to be used wisely and with consent. Building trust is a mix of security, respecting choice, and providing insights and advice that are in context to your customer's needs. Technology helps with the lock and keys needed for security compliance—but also removing the friction involved with providing options, consent, and advice.
Where to invest in the customer experience
- Marketing and sales: Marketing automation solutions can drive growth through both new customer acquisition and retention. As noted above, a key part of providing a better experience for your prospects and customers is to leverage systems that provide a holistic view of their interactions with you. Marketing automation places customers into elaborate campaign journeys delivering personalized content that’s relevant and timely. It can suggest new offerings and value-add content that supports the “trusted advisor” experience customers crave. By pairing marketing data with a best-in-class CRM solution—one that allows your staff to see your customers’ business and interaction history with your company—they are armed with the context to carry the in-person or virtual discussions from transactional to transformational.
- Policy and customer servicing: Along the themes of reducing friction and allowing customers to engage how and when they want, implementing an omnichannel approach (that includes AI-driven chatbots augmented by on-demand CSR chat, customer portals that are a hub of interactions vs. one-way information pushes, and intelligent call centre flows) creates a more engaging customer experience. By providing more options for customers to update their profiles, find information, and request service, we also create additional data that can feed into marketing and sales business processes noted above. A platform that can integrate and consolidate these processes and the resulting data can be a compelling asset in providing a better customer experience.
- Claims: Streamlining the claims process (making simple claims a self-service and automated process)creates a more effortless customer experience while delivering significant process efficiencies for insurers. With improved processes, AI can be leveraged to further enhance both the experience for customers through reduced processing time, settlement and the provision of support, and advice on post-claim actions. Yes, automation can result in lower operating costs and increase profits but more importantly, it can drive competitive advantage through a better experience.
We are biased. We believe that to drive growth in your business and your profits you need to invest in your customers and their needs first. We term this “customer obsession”. By improving your customers’ experience, providing a more empathetic and personalized journey with your systems and your people, you can thrive, not just survive.