Tag Archives: Customer Journey Mapping

Why Customer Journey Mapping Is Crucial

High-touch brands and industries have led consumers to expect that they can interact with brands whenever they want, however they want. These omni-channel expectations have become especially difficult for insurers, many of whom were already lagging other industries in terms of digital and self-service capabilities. 

Every brand touchpoint that insurance carriers offer can serve as both an opportunity and a risk—while positive interactions will build customer relationships and build trust, a subpar experience can have the opposite effect. Journey mapping is often the first step insurers take in engineering these experiences. 

Journey maps identify, visualize and describe every single brand touchpoint, including getting a quote, filing a claim, making a policy change and paying a bill. In a sense, they serve as a guide for marketers to build out an omni-channel experience. They can help identify gaps in the experience as well as find critical moments for consumers, whether rational or emotional. Successful journey mapping can help drive customer engagement, loyalty and trust, which boosts an insurer’s image and the bottom line. 

Making Journey Maps That Matter

Journey maps can also allow insurers to visualize user experiences over a particular time period. While customers may be the group that come to mind for most marketers, insurance organizations should also be mindful of the agent and employee experience. Some journey maps focus on all three groups at once. 

As with any new project, the best journey maps require structure. Organizations need to establish a clear framework, set of goals and defined scope for journey maps. This is especially important as journey maps can serve as a common point of reference for teams all across an insurer, including product teams, underwriting, operations, data science and marketing. Each department has a unique view of the customer journey and can identify gaps that other teams might not notice. 

Companies that have successfully generated an outside-in journey map standardized guiding principles across the organization, got feedback from distribution partners and had executive sponsors offering governance. Journey mapping is an iterative process, so the more involvement from varying departments across an insurer, the better. 

See also: COVID: Agents’ Chance to Rethink Insurance

What Goes on a Journey Map?

Not every journey map will be composed of the same elements, just as not every insurer has the same customer touchpoints. The format of a journey map depends on what business problems an insurer needs to address and which teams are involved. There are some commonalities, however. 

Most journey maps include some of the following features:

  • The journey’s stages
  • The steps of each stage 
  • Actors and personas 
  • Triggers 
  • List of challenges and perceived obstacles 
  • Brand touchpoints 
  • Data and analytics requirements

The team in charge of designing a journey map analyzes every stage of the journey from a customer perspective. What is the customer thinking, feeling or experiencing along the way? Pinpointing specific moments of excitement or frustration for customers is pivotal if an insurer wants to generate an outside-in picture of their customer journey. 

Above all, journey mapping should be founded on the principles noted earlier. There should be cross-departmental governance to ensure engagement and a customer focus. Insurers should also be sure to establish a measurement framework with stated key performance indicators (KPIs) describing success along the customer journey.

KPIs commonly include metrics such as customer satisfaction survey scores, behavior metrics like time to completion and call-center volume relative to digital. The scope of the project should remain fixed on the customer journey to ensure the story line feels realistic and to keep progress on track. 

Journey mapping alone cannot mitigate the challenges of creating an engaging customer experience, but they are a powerful tool insurers can use as part of a larger strategy. Often, the collaboration involved in creating a journey map is just as important as the map itself.

To learn more about the components of a journey map and how to launch a successful journey mapping project, read Novarica’s full report, Customer Journey Mapping: Key Issues and Best Practices.

Much Higher Bar for Customer Service

“It’s all about the customer.” How often have we heard that statement?  More times than we can count, Yet it is more relevant than ever as we exit the “pre-digital” age and enter an environment where survival will be measured by rapid adaptability (see our recent blog post An Ocean Apart: Pre-Digital and Post-Digital Insurance Models).

In our prior posts, we focused on two areas of the insurance value chain that likely are not top of mind when thinking about digital transformation — billing and claims.  In this post, we’ll cover policy and customer serving, which is certainly a higher-profile area for digital enhancement. Policy and customer servicing should be near the top of insurers’ “to do” lists when it comes to embracing the digital shift and transforming into a digitally optimized, customer-focused enterprise.

While many insurers express the desire to become more digitally enabled, most are struggling to catch up, let alone position themselves as leaders. Technology is evolving, and customer demands are growing faster than most companies can deal with. Add to this the challenge that insurers are often saddled with legacy systems, siloed data and product- (not customer-) focused processes that make anticipating and adapting to these changes all the more difficult.

A McKinsey survey from earlier this year reported that most insurers in the U.S. and Europe focus their digital attention on sales and marketing, in particular on the earliest stages of the lifecycle — research and quoting. While these two areas are important, the survey noted that insurers were lagging in their ability to service customers digitally after they were on-boarded.

See also: Key to Digitizing Customer Experience  

Improving Customer Service Is a Great Way to Differentiate

Majesco’s primary research studies on consumers and small-medium businesses showed that, compared with other industries, insurers are pretty bad at service. Life insurers are ninth out of 10 in terms of “ease” of servicing (of the industries shown in comparison, only streaming TV/video/music gets poorer marks for service), while P&C insurers are in fifth place (behind online banks, local retailers, national retailers and online retailers). All small-medium businesses (SMBs) ranked life insurers and employee benefits providers no higher than eighth out of 10 different industries they use as suppliers. P&C insurers also ranked low (fourth out of 10) among the smallest SMBs (those with fewer than 10 employees), but fare much better among larger companies, rising as high as third and second.

Furthermore, our research noted that poor marks have a demonstrable effect on success. If a respondent reported that any one of the aspects surveyed (research, purchase, service) was “not easy” then their Net Promoter Score dropped significantly. And NPS is recognized as a key predictor of a company’s growth and profitability.

According to Celent research, even agents, who are understandably worried about digitally enabled self-service reducing their importance in the sales process, recognize the need for digitization of insurance service processes. The research notes that agents are asking insurers to invest in technology enhancements to, among other things, improve online policy changes.

But It Isn’t Easy (of Course)

At first glance, policy and customer service appears to be an important and straightforward – if not particularly sexy – way to apply digital capabilities to improve outcomes. But looks can be deceiving.

Some of the basic tenets of good service – a 360-degree view of the customer, for example – can be difficult and expensive to implement. Regulatory barriers may prevent streamlining how policy changes are implemented online, varying significantly from state to state and country to country. Legacy policy management systems may not be able to connect to digital front ends in a direct way.

But all of these challenges provide an opportunity to focus on a customer journey-map-based approach to digital transformation! By starting with a vision for digitally enabled customer service (what you want the service experience to be, what business goals you are trying achieve, what key performance indicators you will measure for success) and then creating customer personas and journey maps, you will be able to create a transformation road map. That road map will include people, process and technology changes that you will make over time to reach that vision, allowing for incremental change (instead of taking a riskier, big-bang approach to changes).

Don’t Ignore the Shiny Objects

Just because we recommend an incremental approach doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! There is a lot of cool and interesting insurtech investment in this area, which can (and often should) be leveraged to roll out needed functionality without having to build it yourself.

For example, having e-signature (and as per this blog post on digital billing) and multiple e-payment capabilities can make a policy change paperless and seamless for the customer, something that has been shown to improve service “ease of use” scores. Chat capabilities (human or chatbot) to walk customers through basic to tricky processes is a boon to customer service, with leaders like Lemonade and Geico leveraging them at almost every step of the customer lifecycle. Co-browsing options can be used to help customers navigate particularly tricky process steps. Customer analytics can be used to identify customers at risk of leaving, help them manage their risks and even identify cross- and up-sell opportunities.

Even artificial intelligence (AI) shows promise in customer service, and far beyond just chatbots. IBM’s Watson is assisting customer service efforts in dozens of industries, and all indications are that it will be especially useful in insurance, where matching customers to products and services can help generate revenue and improve customer satisfaction. An excellent non-insurance example is the work Watson is doing with H&R Block. Watson is used to feed appropriate question prompts to tax professionals during client consultations. Bill Cobb, H&R Block president and CEO, said, “Watson is learning more and more as it does more tax returns.” According to a recent IBM blog, “Watson has learned 600 million data points relevant to the industry as well as the U.S. tax code.”

Imagine Watson in insurance, rolled out to give agents prompts based on both individual knowledge and “learned” experience. Watson will help insurers translate regulatory requirements and improve relationship management. Cognitive customer service will give real depth to the possibilities. The Future Today Institute has stated in its 2017 Tech Trends Report that artificial intelligence will soon be integrated into nearly every facet of work life. In a detailed look at industries covered in the report, AI is the #1 trend in every industry.

But Keep an Eye Out for Pitfalls

One potential pitfall is to think this service mentality applies to just personal lines, which, as I’ve highlighted in my other blog posts, is far from the truth. Commercial carriers have a lot to gain from digitally enabled servicing, particularly in the SMB market, where margins can be thin on a per-policy basis. Commercial carriers may be very amenable to service outreach that includes risk-mitigation advice as well.

See also: ‘It’s the Customer Experience, Stupid’  

Insurtech is not just for personal lines, either: A recent SMA study highlighted more than 400 insurtechs targeting the commercial space, and the carriers themselves are interested in leveraging them for, among other things, customer servicing.

Other pitfalls include trying to do too much at once or taking a scattershot approach to service improvements. These dangers reinforce the critical importance of leveraging customer journey mapping to create a disciplined approach to capability deployment.

How to Start

As we have consistently advocated, start with a vision of what you want to achieve. Check this against other investment priorities and pain points for your customers and other stakeholders (for example, if the biggest area of complaint is with the claims process, you may want to consider starting there). Create personas and journey maps to guide your decision-making.

‘It’s the Customer Experience, Stupid’

Borrowing a line from James Carville’s presidential campaign advice, “It’s the economy, stupid,” we need to grasp the real source of sustained growth and say to ourselves, “It’s the customer experience, stupid.” Can we wake up and focus on the customer experience? Do we truly understand what they want? Do we understand that customer experience isn’t just about technology, transactions and 24/7 availability? Are we prepared to go beyond the processes and needs of the insurance company and look at insurance from the outside in?

As you may have noticed, we are increasingly living in an experience-driven culture as opposed to a possessions-focused culture. In May 2016, Groupon launched an ad campaign surrounding the “Haves and Have Dones.” It’s a funny lampoon of those people who seek luxurious things vs. those who are looking for adventures and experiences. This cultural focus on doing more and buying less isn’t new; it’s just gaining traction. The implication for insurance is that customer experience is more relevant than ever because great experiences are highly valued.

Insurers need to make their brand experiences into havens of ease, comfort and security that also fit into customers’ desired lifestyles. To dig deeper in understanding, insurers need to create customer personas and develop customer journey maps that will bring empathy into experience design.

See also: How the Customer Experience Is Shifting  

Personas — Bridges to Empathy

Customer personas synthesize real-life examples into one, easy-to-understand picture of a common role or person. For example:

Roger Thompson is a veterinarian. He works long hours, and most of them aren’t at a desk with easy access to his laptop. He makes a good income, but he isn’t wealthy. He is forced to fit his paperwork into Sunday afternoons. He cares passionately about animals and is not so passionate about anything that adds administrative time to his already-packed schedule. If faced with a choice between price and convenience, he will almost always pick convenience —though he remains price-conscious.

This is just a slice of a persona. It instantly transports us into the shoes of that customer type, so that we can begin to see life from behind his eyes. If we know Roger’s motivations, worries and life pain points, we can better craft his customer journey.

Personas simplify business conversations. If we all understand Roger’s needs, we are far more likely to agree about what it will take to make his experiences better.

We can replicate this many times over with any type of role that is relevant to the insurance experience. Every time we do, we’ll get beyond our tendency to see customers as giant groups to capture an individual’s feelings during moment-by-moment needs and choices.

Once the persona is created, a customer journey map can be developed. It is difficult to create the one without the other. The persona operates as the constant filter of feelings and issues that provide the real empathy while we consider what the journey looks like.

Customer Journey Maps — Paths to Understanding

Journey mapping is just what it sounds like — walking through the customer experience through the persona’s eyes and in the persona’s shoes. For example,

Reema Patel is a sales rep for a shoe manufacturer. She commutes with a company car. Most days, her personal vehicle sits in the garage. She enjoys most of her interactions with her home/auto insurer, but every time she sees the insurance statement she gets a little irritated that she pays to cover something that gets so little use.

Slicing the journey into common interaction and reaction points will help insurers see where the journey has hurdles. What aren’t we seeing in customer service surveys? What parts of the journey can we improve? Is there any part of life where the persona is prone to dislike their insurance experience?

This is where journey mapping pays off for insurers. Our goal is to give the customer a brand experience that exceeds expectations, even if that experience requires less interaction and even if it changes the nature of our relationship. We simply need to be paying attention to what the experiences are and what they could be.

Tesla makes a great example of an organization translating customer personas into customer journeys and then into improvement in customer experience. At some point, Tesla executives must have asked, “How can we improve auto ownership for Tesla customers?” The answer was to bundle the vehicle, its insurance and its maintenance (which it is actually experimenting with in Asia). In one step, Tesla removed hundreds of transactions from the owner over the life of the vehicle, consolidating payments and creating a lower-stress experience. A person like Reema might like the idea that coverage and ownership are all-in-one.

How can insurers capitalize on customer journey mapping? Precisely by doing what Tesla did — using the maps to redesign the experience. You may insure small business owners. What does their day look like? What are their common risks? What happens when something goes wrong? Is there a way to move their brand experience from good to great?

Redesigned Experiences — “That brand fits me”

It’s an experience, not a transaction. If insurers adopt the mindset that we are shifting from core transactional experiences to customer experiences, then they will instantly be able to brainstorm new ways of supporting the customer. These might fall outside of traditional insurance operations.

A high-volume motorcycle insurer, for example, might build an online community for cycle enthusiasts. Anyone can join. The company creates an experience that moves from the road into the living room. The insurer may capitalize on promotional opportunities to sell insurance, but is also gaining a deep understanding of the motivations and experiences of those who are insured. The company will understand the many types of motorcycle riders. It won’t be creating products that are one-size fits all. Those who ride will ultimately see that the brand fits them. “This is the insurer that understands riders like me.”

See also: How to Bottle Great Customer Experience

It’s an experience, not a technology. If sensors in my basement notify my insurer that I have water damage and the company schedules remediation without my making a claim, then my experience has improved and my loyalty has been assured. Likewise, if my auto insurer sends me a message to put my car in the garage because of an approaching hail storm, the company is looking out for my welfare and has improved my experience. These would be benchmark experiences for customers. They use new technology, but they are still focused on the experience.

When we focus on the customer experience, we peek into customer minds and feed our own opportunity list with inspirations based on their thoughts, actions and feelings. We introduce a loop of feedback and improvement that will provide sustainable growth. And, we unify our organizations behind a culture of empathy and action. A focus on customer experience will give customers brand love — and that’s about the best result we could ask for.

Stop Drowning in Big Data; Use It Right

What’s the big deal about big data?

Big data is an enormously appealing subject these days. However, many companies miss the big picture when collecting it — or drowning in it. There is an idea that the more data, the better. In fact, the focus should be on determining the right data to help improve the overall customer experience.

Raining Big Data
Big data is like the weather — we’re talking about it, but we haven’t quite figured out how to do anything about it. Even fewer know how to leverage it. There are lots of questions but few answers. For example, who’s familiar with the 3Vs?

But don’t be afraid to get wet. Data can be used to improve many things for many people – including your employees and customers. I say “can” because, before you do anything, you need to make sure you are using the right data — and not just the random troves collected throughout the years. Mining the right data can lead you to the right customer problems, which can then be solved, creating a better customer experience.

Background Checks
Always define before measuring. What does great customer experience look like in your industry? Figure out what you need to do to wow customers and then compare that with the reality of your business as it stands now.

I’ve utilized customer journey mapping, net promoter scores and voice of the customer metrics with great results. You can even provide customers incentives to help you out with input.

Here’s a smart way to do that. Start by checking the leading survey on customer experience, the Forrester Customer Experience Index, to see where your organization lands. It might surprise you.

Reliable Friends Are Powerful Friends
Right data helps organizations do many things, including:

• Anticipate what customers want before they ask for it
• Identify customer pain points and resolve them
• Create new business value
• Improve customer service interactions
• Develop more effective marketing and better products
• Improve operational efficiencies

Take Southwest Airlines. It’s using speech analytics to extract data-rich info from live-recorded interactions between customers and personnel to get a better understanding of customers.

Or read about Avis Budget’s data-driven growth model. It uses big data to identify the most valuable customers today and tomorrow.

How, you ask?

By examining a broad range of data sources, including structured information like purchase histories, CRM data and intelligence from industry partners, as well as unstructured information like social media, blogs and videos. Sorting through the data has helped all customers be treated like VIPs.

These are only two examples of forward-thinking leaders using the right data to create actionable insights that monetize their data. There are many more. What about your competitors? How far along are they down the big data road? And are they using the right data?