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December 12, 2018

3 Ways to Optimize Customer Experience

Summary:

Even in a heated marketplace, a superior customer contact center can let life insurers grow.

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In today’s constantly changing environment, positive customer experience has become more important than ever. As insurance becomes more commoditized, providing excellent customer service has emerged as a key way to achieve competitive differentiation. The stakes are higher today than ever before.

Consumers have more insurer choices than ever before. Right now, insurers are facing competition not only from insurance companies but also non-traditional players in the field like insurtechs and banks that now offer insurance coverage. At the same time, customers demand more from their vendors, and they expect the interactions they have with retailers, financial institutions, insurers, health practitioners and service providers – every organization with which they do business – to be easy, seamless, pleasant and fruitful.

It is sobering that customers are likely to switch providers of all kinds due to poor customer service. As reported by Forbes, NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” reports that U.S. companies are losing $75 billion in business due to poor service. According to the research, the main reasons customers stop doing business with a company are: They don’t feel appreciated, they can’t speak to a person who can answer their questions, employees are rude and unhelpful, they are left on hold for too long and they need to speak to multiple people to get the help they need.

Make the most of make-or-break moments

There are several decisive moments in the life insurance journey when insurers have prime opportunities to delight new and existing policyholders with excellent customer service from the initial coverage inquiry calls and online visits to an insurer’s website to a final claim. Customers expect their policy-buying experiences to be fast and friction-free. They want their claims experiences to be uncomplicated and transparent, and they want their customer service experiences to be pleasant, efficient and productive. And if their insurance providers disappoint or fail to deliver, potential and existing policyholders can certainly take their business to the competition. Even worse, poor service can damage the brand. If an insurer consistently provides sub-par service, policyholders can voice their displeasure on social media, and the company can develop a bad reputation.

Insurers absolutely must focus on optimizing customer experience across all channels and touchpoints. By using customer-facing and back-end technologies, these three solutions help life insurers enhance their customers’ experience:

See also: How Insurtech Helps Build Trust  

Offer an easy, intuitive and fast application process.

Today’s online retailers have set the bar high for every customer-facing business. Because shoppers can place an online order and receive an item from companies like Amazon within two days – or even hours, in some cases – they have come to expect a similarly fast experience when they apply for life insurance coverage.

However, applying for life insurance is far more complicated than placing an online grocery order. Life insurance shoppers typically must go through a rigorous application process before they can even get a quote. Not only do carriers need detailed health information to underwrite and properly price a policy, they also must gather other personal information like Social Security numbers, credit reports and other data that can help assess a potential insured. It’s no wonder so many people abandon the application process and wind up uninsured.

Life insurers have recognized that streamlining the application process can not only improve the customer’s experience, but has the potential to substantially boost sales. Historically, this meant life insurers had to increase their exposure and risk to offer a less onerous onboarding experience. Today, however, technology enables life insurers to optimize the application process, not only facilitating application completion but also ensuring appropriate risk assignment.

With SE2 Digital Direct Life, for instance, carriers have a way to offer suitable products with a no-touch online application process that lets consumers nearly effortlessly apply for life insurance while better assigning risk and more accurately pricing policies. Digital Direct Life automates policy application by gathering key identifiers and an eSignature to authorize the carrier to access the personal data, which includes the applicant’s medical and credit histories and driving record. The system then uses the information to perform an automated underwriting process to accurately assess and price risk, while offering the insured tailored coverage and a speedy quote.

Transform and integrate.

In today’s omni channel environment, the contact center is a still a critical touch point where a carrier has the opportunity to significantly improve the relationship with customers. Insurers must provide a pleasant, high-quality interaction, the account service representative (ASR) must be able to resolve issues quickly and effectively and reps must inspire policyholder trust and confidence that all advice and information is accurate. If carriers provide anything less than superior service with every contact center interaction, they risk disappointing – and potentially losing – their policyholders.

A decade or more ago, insureds would contact their agent or call their insurance company with all kinds of requests, ranging from the most complicated queries to requests for help with simpler tasks like changing a beneficiary or for basic information on premium amounts. The simplest calls might take no more than a few minutes because reps could simply pull up a single screen to answer quick questions. Today, however, an increasing number of policyholders are using online or phone self-service options for simple, routine queries, and many are now only calling into the contact center with the most complicated issues that require live help. To solve complex issues, contact center reps might have to pull up information on their screen from multiple sources on a single call. This can take considerable time, potentially frustrating policyholders and creating a customer experience that’s anything but pleasant.

A comprehensive digital contact center transformation is essential for life insurers that want to optimize the call center. Digital not only enables self-service capabilities but gives agents the tools to perform their jobs better and more easily deliver fast and effective service to policyholders. A digital contact center strategy includes integration with a rich set of capabilities from a partner ecosystem to enable a seamless and engaging experience for both agents and customers.

See also: How to Use AI in Customer Service  

Use analytics to optimize the contact center.

Speech analytics solutions give carriers insight on customer behavior by capturing the content of customer-agent interactions. A speech analytics application can attach different metadata to tag the call, including the caller’s number, the number of the contract the customer is calling about and call duration. Conversations are recorded and stored in the speech analytics software and then are typically turned into transcripts that can be used in several ways.

  • Boost ASR performance and customer service. First, the analytics can help carriers significantly improve customer service by providing reps with valuable feedback to increase competence, leading to increasingly satisfying and successful interactions with policyholders. Typically, organizations provide feedback to their agents by evaluating a small, random sample of recorded calls. With speech analytics, 100% of calls can be evaluated. Ultimately, better-monitored, -evaluated and -trained ASRs can boost an insurer’s bottom line because customers may be more receptive to cross-sell and up-sell offers from a rep they trust, and policyholders are more likely to keep their business with an insurer that gets customer service right.
  • Inform self-service strategies. Insurers can also gain insights from the metadata, revealing the reasons for the policyholder call that can help improve self-service solutions and processes.
  • Improve FCR. In addition, speech analytics can also improve the first-call resolution (FCR) rate by giving insurers the ability to detect whether policyholders are calling multiple times for the same issue. Not only can speech analytics provide ASRs with feedback about their call-handling performance and guidance on how to improve service and issue resolution; the technology also captures insights that can drive solutions to improve FCR.
  • Ensure regulatory compliance. And finally, speech analytics can help carriers head off potential legal and regulatory issues by flagging potential problems and handling them appropriately. Insurers can set up a speech analytics engine to detect key words like “legal action,” “fraud” and “DOL”. Any conversations that contain the flagged words are pulled for review, and a supervisor can swiftly follow up with policyholders and ASRs to deescalate a situation.

Even in a heated marketplace, insurers that can provide consistently superior customer service in the contact center can grow faster and become more profitable. With so much at stake, life insurance organizations absolutely must investigate how currently available contact center technologies can help them improve ASR competencies, develop their self-service capabilities and ensure a great customer experience.

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About the Author

Tina Hammeke joined SE2 in 2016, with more than 30 years of experience across nearly every functional area of the business. This includes building operational infrastructure for startup ventures, as well as organizational management tools for mature operating units.

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About the Author

Thiru Sivasubramanian is the VP of architecture and technology strategy at SE2. Prior to SE2, he held technology leadership roles at Salesforce.com, Tata Consultancy Services and Torry Harris Business Solutions.

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