3 Ways to Build Digital Relationships

As insurers use technology to reduce the human contacts required to bind policies, they can still enhance their relationship-building abilities.

Insurers sell products that consumers need but are loath to buy and have traditionally depended on an army of salespeople and agents and massive ad budgets. This old order is disappearing, but customer relationships need not be a casualty. Digital-first companies like Metromile, Lemonade, Slice and many others are experts at manipulating ones and zeros to acquire customers without actually talking to them. Now, even traditional insurance companies take a page from the insurtech playbook, prioritizing digital customer acquisition without human intervention. It’s becoming the norm to buy a policy and complete a claim completely online, even right from your phone. Digital insurance experiences take less time and require less pain. But as insurance companies look to increase profitability by reducing the number of human contacts required to bind policies, they would be wise to not completely abandon their relationship-building abilities by hiding phone number on their websites. See also: 3 Steps to Achieve a Digital Architecture Insurance companies can leverage analytics to maintain relationships. By reconceiving and rebuilding digital relationships, companies can enhance customer engagements and acquire more digital customers at scale. Here are three ways to do that: 1. Engage all of your customers contextually at scale. A big trend you see in customer service today is to have an “omni-channel engagement strategy.” This usually means employing a bevy of live-engagement channels on tap for your customer to pick from. Usually on your Contact Us page, you include everything from Chat to Email to SMS to phone. Providing more contact options may seem like a win for customers, but, when it comes to acquiring customers, an omni-channel contact strategy is really doubling down on a losing proposition; it requires expensive agents who can typically be available to only about 1% of customers online. Adding more channels increases costs and robs profit instead of increasing it. The reality is that, no matter how well you design your site, some customers will always need help, but they do not always know when they are struggling or hesitating. You can’t count on them en masse to reach out for help when they need it. When you have terms that need demystifying, or coverages that need explaining, the best solution is to act early and often – before your customers get stuck, abandon your digital channel or cost you a lot of money with a phone call. By leveraging real-time analytics to anticipate when they’re struggling, you can offer next-best actions: automated tips, explainer videos, buying guides and other helpful bits of content that have a high likelihood of being helpful. Because customers don’t require a live agent, these engagements can be served up to anyone and everyone who needs the help all for about 1% of the cost of a live engagement. Moreover, contextual guidance can boost conversion rates anywhere from 25% to 400%. 2. Leverage your relationship to nudge them forward: E-commerce companies, including banks and insurers, typically do a really bad job of showing that they understand their relationship with you. Sites often look and behave the same on the 300th visit as they did on the first, and don’t tailor the experience to fit individual customer needs other than offering to remember login names. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Many companies have started to realize that a customer may not complete a quote or bind a policy all in one visit; these companies have started to offer the ability to save and later retrieve a quote. That’s a step in the right direction. If you combine that functionality with the guidance described above, you can take things to the next level. When a customer saves a quote, leaves to comparison shop and then returns in a few hours or a few days (all typical behaviors), engage them contextually and offer to take them back to where they left off. Offer a greeting like “Welcome back! We see you saved a quote with us last time. Click here to pick up where you left off.” This way, you can take them right back to where they were last time, instead of waiting for them to relearn your UI. Don’t require customers to remember what they were doing last time or to find their way be back all on their own. 3. Have long-term relationship goals to continue to build life-time value. E-commerce operations can be notoriously transactional in how they look at the world. If a customer abandons a single visit, companies may think that they’ve lost that customer. Similarly, when a customer completes an online transaction, a company may assume that the battle has been won. What we really want to do is have a strategy to build value for and grow revenue from a customer over the long term. Bringing all the techniques together, a long-term relationship strategy may look like this:
  • Use real-time analytics to help customers’ get through historical hesitation and struggle points.
  • Tailor an engagement strategy to link multiple customer visits into one, short, efficient transactional journey.
  • Come up with a profile for the typical customer and have goals for the full complement of target products and services that you want them to acquire over the long term. Then deploy engagements to feature and cross-sell complementary products and multi-line discounts when these customers visit for policy servicing or to file a claim.
See also: 3 Phases to Digital Transformation   At its best, an insurance relationship can resemble the one I have with my doctor – a trusted friend or professional who is truly looking out for me, and less like a painful necessity that must be endured. At first, the path to increased digital profitability built around talking to customers less may seem like quite a sacrifice. Yet the reality is that analytics, AI and customer engagement have matured to the point that they can revolutionize digital relationship-building better than an entire call center of humans could ever hope to.

Brian Strauss

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Brian Strauss

Brian Strauss, goMoxie’s VP of worldwide field engineering, has 20 years of experience in sales engineering, web development and product marketing. A true solutions engineer, his mission is helping brands build a guided digital experience with goMoxie.

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