In any industry, customer experience is essential to attracting, securing, and retaining customers. This specifically rings true for the insurance industry. In insurance, most customer support is still being conducted over the phone. Customers associate call centers with bureaucracy, misunderstandings, and an impersonal interaction that feels limited and disconnected. Now, more than ever, as our ability to connect and communicate has extended far beyond the telephone, and continues to innovate at an alarming rate, it’s important that insurance companies stay ahead of the curve on technological innovations. Employing these innovations has enormous potential to reclaim the customer experience, helping them to feel supported, connected, and most importantly, loyal.
Turning A Problem into an Advantage
This may feel like an insurmountable challenge for insurance professionals, but it also opens the door for insurance companies offering a great customer experience to develop a seriously competitive advantage. In a 2017 study from Insurance Nexus, insurance professionals ranked “technological advancements” and “changing customer expectations” as the two top external challenges facing the industry and “lack of innovation capabilities” as the top internal challenge. This supports the notion that keeping up with technological trends coupled with satisfying customer support expectations is the perfect formula for a stand-out insurance sales and retention strategy.
In addition, a recent study on the ROI of insurance companies willing to invest in customer experience supports this argument. The study found a clear correlation between great customer experience and increased revenue for both car and home insurance companies. Specifically, customer experience that involves a visual component, as opposed to just voice, has been found to “be better understood and connect emotionally” to the customer. Increasingly, video engagement is predicted to supplant regular phone calls.
Turning a Service into an Experience
You don’t have to search hard to see how customer experience can have a transformative effect on an industry. “Grabbing a cup of coffee” used to be a fairly neutral monetary transaction. Starbucks transformed it into an experience, with the emotional payoff at the forefront of their branding. Says Stanley Hainsworth, the person behind much of Starbucks’ early brand creation, “What I observed… is the rigor and unfailing attention to the product, and the unbelievable energy spent on creating the brand experience. I describe it as experience first and product second, because no one is going to pick up your product and try it if they don’t want to buy into the experience.”
Intuit’s tax software company, TurboTax, a world leader in tax software, is another great example of how an industry was transformed by a shift in customer experience. They took a product, tax assistance, something no one wants to pay for or think about, and had incredible success turning it into an experience that feels completely different. To quote their director of assisted experience, Stacie Herring: “For us, we’ve tried to make care a part of the product. Just because you put a “contact us” button up, doesn’t mean everyone will use it. But it makes people feel better knowing it’s there.” With ever-present “contact us” buttons, co-browsing, and agent video options, they are creating an environment that feels supportive and attentive to the customer.
Turning an Idea into a Strategy
A recent study, “The growth engine: superior customer experience in insurance“, identified certain elements as central to the design and implementation of a successful customer experience strategy. For one, the spirit and mission of the company must be customer-centric on a fundamental level. Customer-facing positions need to be regularly incentivized to be friendly, attentive, and genuinely helpful to each customer.
In addition, shortcomings in customer satisfaction need to be identified, and not guessed or assumed. Insurance companies ought to take a patient, pragmatic approach to problem-solving lest they waste resources solving the wrong problem. The experience of the customer is often compared to a journey, throughout which there are various “pain points”. Correctly identifying and solving these “pain points” addresses the feelings of the customer, which is paramount to their ultimate satisfaction with the product.
Getting the Right Tools for the Job
There are so many ways to improve the customer experience. Depending on the identified shortcomings, this could mean a complete overhaul or total rebranding. But there are also small steps you can take to make big strides in customer experience right away. Visual engagement is an excellent way to start. For instance, many companies are implementing co-browsing with video chat to establish customer intimacy and trust during high-value purchase, such as life insurance policy.
One of our clients, a large American based insurance company, needed to improve the way customers’ navigate through their website. With Surfly, customer service agents were able to jointly and securely, navigate pages with customers or guide them through complex claims forms – using annotation to highlight circles or view customers’ screen. They were also able to assist a customer who is visually impaired. For the company building trust was a key element to improving the customer experience. Since the deployment of Surfly co-browsing, the company has improved first contact resolution, and customer satisfaction.
Building relationship and trust is at the heart of a great customer experience. Insurance companies need to start appealing to customers on an emotional level, transforming feelings of skepticism, mistrust, and confusion into feelings of security, stability, and support.
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