Creating a great customer experience is one strategy to build brand loyalty. Many of us have had bad experiences working with insurance companies – poorly handled claims, unresponsive agents, lack of timely payment – which can lead to customer churn. However, if insurance companies develop and implement strategies that provide great customer experiences, ones that are supported by digital technologies that streamline operations and simplify how customers interact with the insurance providers, then customer loyalty will remain high.
According to the Harvard Business Review’s The Pitfalls of Overlooking the Back Office, “As customers, we all know the customer experience travels across organizational silos and in and out of management tiers. We all know the experience of giving our identification information again and again at different stages of one call to one organization. This is a poor customer experience, and it reflects an absence of back-end integration,” said Karen Cham, professor of digital transformation design at the University of Brighton in England.
Here are three recommendations for how insurance providers can improve the customer experience and turn those customers into lifelong advocates for your brand.
Pay claims in real time
After incurring damage to a house or in an auto accident, people must go through the dreaded process of working to file an insurance claim: fill out the paperwork, provide supporting documentation, have it reviewed by an agent, submit additional paperwork and finally receive payment many weeks later. It’s a tedious process that is time-consuming and often creates customer friction. The lengthy process of getting paid for a claim can damage the relationship between the customer and the insurance provider.
Taking advantage of the speed and efficiency of digital technologies, insurance providers can reduce the pain and shorten the time it takes to disburse funds. There are many ways that customers can receive payment in a timely manner, most notably via digital payouts. For example, an insurance company can pay a customer digitally via digital wallets, through Venmo and PayPal or directly to the customer’s bank account rather than issuing a check and sending it in the mail. This allows the customer to control where the funds are delivered and helps reduce operational costs.
Deliver personalized experiences
Digital technologies not only make processing and paying claims faster, they also help insurance providers gather volumes of customer data. When customer data is compiled (through such avenues as the Internet of Things, mobile-enabled insurtech apps and wearables) and analyzed, it gives insurance providers a better understanding of their customers and each customer’s unique interests and shows trends about larger demographics. By understanding how certain customer groups behave and interact, such as those based on age or income, insurance companies can provide services and promotions that are tailored to each customer’s specific needs.
Younger customers, such as millennials and Gen Z, prefer to use mobile technologies for most aspects of their lives. Insurance companies need to make sure that all channels, including website, mobile and desktop, are unified and provide the same experience to the customer. Likewise, having single sign-on for customers, so that they can view multiple accounts, makes it easy to see all of a customer’s accounts at once. Mastering omnichannel marketing, making it easy for customers to engage with insurance agents and delivering personalized experiences are proven methods for improving the customer experience.
See also: 6 Ways to Transform Customer Experience
Cultivate emotionally intelligent agents
Insurance agents serve on the front line of almost every customer's experience. When a customer is in an auto accident or if a storm damages their house, the first person they call is their insurance agent. This is a critical time in the relationship between the customer and the carrier because the customer is often scared, angry or possibly injured. This is the time when an agent needs to demonstrate compassion and display a high level of emotional intelligence to tackle the situation.
Insurance providers should consider implementing emotional intelligence training for their agents who interact with customers on a regular basis. Having insight into what a customer is feeling, being concerned about fixing the situation or simply lending an ear to let the customer vent goes a long way toward strengthening the relationship between the provider and the customer.
For me and my organization, we understand what it means to make customers happy around the world. Training insurance agents to provide emotional support to customers and implementing digital technologies to streamline operations, lower costs and improve the customer experience helps give your company a competitive advantage.
In an era where customers can easily jump ship to go to another provider, it’s imperative that insurance companies devote time and energy to creating a great customer experience that ensures loyalty.