Tips on Improving the Customer Experience

The perception is that insurers use outdated methods of communication, making them appear untrustworthy, even incompetent.

If you're in the insurance industry, then you know why the topic of improving the customer experience is so important. Although insurance is a complex business not so easily entered by "outsiders," as technology becomes more intuitive and simplified, barriers that once protected insurance from outside competition have started to dissipate. Companies like Google can use targeted partnerships and marketing prowess to provide consumers with a process that is quick and painless and offers policies at the right price. This type of business model is especially attractive to Millennials, the largest consumer base in the U,S. at 75 million strong.

Luckily for insurers, even with a side-by-side comparison of policies at their fingertips, Millennials still want the insurance-buying process to be completed through a person they trust. Less luckily for insurers, there is a perception that insurers use outdated methods of communication, making them appear untrustworthy and - dare we say it? - incompetent.

Here are a few ways to help alleviate this problem:

Know a Consumer's Common History

Nothing can make an insurer or agent appear more out of touch than neglecting a customer's history with your company or a past carrier. Simply asking a question that has been answered previously can be the start of a frustrating relationship.

Technology offers ways to engage customers and access databases that record and recall all customer touch points and information gathered thus far. Not taking advantage of these tools reflects poorly on the brand, especially considering how many current companies today employ similar tactics. How can we expect consumers to be loyal to an insurer when there is no understanding of their previous experiences? For example, if their history includes a disputed claim, an agent must pay careful attention on communicating what the policy will cost, what it will cover and most importantly what it won't cover. Showing an intuitive level of care when it comes to a new customer can show that you are up to task of insuring their assets.

Understand Their Journey

Whether researching product offerings, paying bills or submitting a claim, customers are on a path that is transactional and rarely linear. As a carrier, broker, agent or customer service representative, you must adjust your messages based on each customer and provide a way to view a policy that offers structure. Studies have shown that customers do not feel confident about their policies and what they cover, relying on the insurer to walk them through what can be a confusing process. Additionally, responsibilities of each person (insurer and agent) in the internal insurance pipeline must be written down and agreed upon, including who is in charge of sending specific customer information to other team members. The last thing you want is a floating customer with no idea who to speak to regarding a problem. One of the most surprising components leading to poor customer communication is a lack of cohesive internal communication within a company.

Through the use of upgraded core systems, documents like smart forms can strengthen this process. Smart forms have access to all existing data on a customer and can plug it into the appropriate sections of the form. This allows agents more time to think about their individual customers instead of performing low-level work. Agents of the future will likely take more of an advisory role, leaving the grunt work for the new technologies available to them.

Additionally, steps are being taken in the life insurance segment to gain back the trust from Millennials that was lost in the 2008 financial crisis. According to the 2015 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study, seven out of 10 Millennials no longer trust financial service firms. One clever example of how these insurers plan to understand the Millennial consumers is the Society of Grownups, an organization backed by MassMutual, offering a social learning environment to teach about credit scores and retirement savings. This type of out-of-the-box initiative is another way for insurers to begin rebuilding trust with their younger customers.

The Age of the Inquisitive Consumer

With the continued rise of the inquisitive consumer, more and more are going into new policy discussions and purchases with their own research and preconceived notions. In fact, according to a recent Ernst & Young survey, 69% of global customers feel that they initiate the purchase of new policies. However, insurance is still a complex business, which means agents have a responsibility to locate and dissolve any discrepancies between customer perceptions based on their own research and what the actual policy dictates.

It's also important to allow for omnichannel communication. This is where delivery can be tailored for each step in the insurance buying process and centered on the preferred communication method. In the beginning of a new policy discussion, perhaps customers would prefer their interaction to be done over mobile phone or through live email chat, but as they get closer to signing the policy they may want a direct line to their agent.

The key ingredient to improving the consumer experience is simple in theory but difficult in practice: to listen to each customer and her specific needs and enter into the discussion from the position of education rather than sales. Millennials gravitate toward a more personal touch that is also transparent and efficient. With the addition of new technologies and refined internal strategies, insurers can help mitigate a perception issue in insurance and help agents move into different roles that are more suitable for the millennial consumer.

Francis Dion

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Francis Dion

Francis Dion is the chief executive officer of Xpertdoc Technologies. With his entrepreneurial drive and passion for client services, Dion has more than 20 years of experience in software development, managing IT services and consulting and training services.


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