Tag Archives: customer journey

Top 10 Ways to Spook Customers

What were you afraid of this Halloween? That your customers might disappear like ghosts? That your competitors might pick them off like vultures? That it’s all going to drive you batty? In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, Watermark Consulting brings you… The Top 10 Ways to Spook Your Customers:

10.  Respond to customer requests like a zombie.

Are your responses to customer inquiries heavily scripted like they came out of some low-budget horror movie? Might your customers feel like, no matter what they say, they get form letters and teleprompter-like messages in response? Remove active listening, critical thinking and personalized problem solving from your front-line and you miss a huge opportunity to impress your customer. If your front-line personnel perform like zombies, you can guarantee that customers will run from them.

9.  Communicate in gobbledygook (or, on Halloween, goblin-dygook).

Having trouble reading a billing statement? Or your health insurer’s explanation of benefits? Or correspondence from your financial institution? You’re not alone. Businesspeople are steeped in the practices and language of their respective industries. As such, they often forget to translate their communications for easy public consumption. Instead, they convey their messages using jargon, terminology and acronyms that make their customers head for the hills.

8.  Cut expenses and operate with a skeleton staff.

Particularly in times of economic distress, many companies’ first reaction is to slash investments in post-sale operations, because these areas are not viewed as revenue-driving and therefore become easy targets when profits need to be propped up. But while skeleton staffs might offer some immediate gratification in expense reduction, they also foster negative impressions that could snuff out your company’s true brand. Bare bones operations translate into long checkout lines, miserable 800-line hold times, overall inattentive service and visibly overworked and irritated employees – characteristics that are hardly the best ingredients for great customer experiences.

7.  Embark on monstrous transformation projects.

Business transformation is overrated. It’s good to have high aspirations and stretch goals, but you’ve got to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Big, hairy, audacious projects have a tendency to be ill-defined and nearly impossible to manage. Plus, most companies suffer from “organizational A.D.D.” and have trouble staying focused on a three-month project, let alone a three-year one. Transformational projects make for good annual report copy, but they often fail to deliver valuable improvements to employees and customers. (Sometimes, all they deliver is disruption and dissatisfaction.) Yes, have a long-term vision – but never underestimate the power and efficiency of incremental advances toward that destination.

6.  Never do a post-mortem.

In the whirlwind of daily business activities, people rarely take the time to dissect and diagnose customer annoyances. Customer complaints present a wonderful opportunity to not just recover gracefully (and perhaps win back a consumer’s loyalty), but to also dig up the root of a problem and fix it, once and for all. What’s even rarer than post-mortems on customer complaints? Post-mortems on customer compliments. There’s great value in pinpointing what employee or practice generated customer delight and then figuring out how to replicate that outcome more routinely. Post-mortems can yield silver bullet-like learnings that forever eradicate customer frustrations or permanently institutionalize loyalty-enhancing business practices.

5.  Create a workplace that sucks the lifeblood out of people.

To create happy, satisfied and loyal customers, you need happy, satisfied and engaged employees. Create a work environment where employees don’t feel appreciated, respected or well-equipped to do their jobs – and you’re guaranteed to make their energy and passion go away faster than a vampire at dawn. And if you don’t think your customers will notice that difference in your staff, then you really are starting to hallucinate.

4.  Don’t tell your customers what’s lurking around the corner.

Creating satisfied, loyal customers is a lot about managing expectations. People’s frustration (or delight) with a business is closely tied to the expectations they had of that interaction. Customers don’t like ambiguity or unpleasant surprises. If you don’t tell them what to expect – how long they’ll be on hold before speaking to a live person, how much paperwork they’ll need to fill out for a mortgage application, what information they’ll need to provide to get an insurance quote, etc. – then they’re more likely to be annoyed when the interaction isn’t as quick, simple or straightforward as they anticipated.

3.  Give your customers tricks and never treats.

Do customers walk away from dealings with your business feeling good about the interaction? Do they get what they expected; do they feel like they got a good value? For lots of businesses, the answer is no. Customers will rarely tell you that, choosing instead to just vote with their feet (and wallet) and do business elsewhere. From products that don’t work exactly as expected, to special offers that exclude desirable merchandise, to fine print that can’t even be understood – these are examples of “tricks of the trade” that may draw consumers in momentarily but certainly won’t create a foundation on which to build loyal customer relationships. Contrast that with the indelible positive impressions left on customers who experience treats – pleasant surprises and personal touches that they never expected or anticipated. That’s what legendary, customer-centric brands are made of.

2.  Avoid ownership and accountability like the plague.

A gruesome ailment has descended on the business community, eradicating all vestiges of ownership and accountability. Customer calls are not promptly (if ever) returned. Commitments are not kept. Obligations are forgotten. Here’s a little secret: Customers don’t care if your store is immaculate, if your employees have smiles, if you send them fancy newsletters or any of that fluff if your product doesn’t work as advertised and your people don’t follow through on their promises. Want to create a brand experience that outshines all others? Start by nailing these basics and making sure your customers feel cared for.

And the No. 1 way to spook your customers…

1.  Put scary people on your front line.

Who’s interacting with your customers on a daily basis? Is your front-line composed of superheroes who go the extra mile for your customers, or soulless automatons who frighten your customers with their discourtesy, uselessness and utter inability to deliver on promises? No matter how sophisticated your customer relationship management systems are, or how spectacular your retail store looks, or how advanced your customer segmentation strategy is – it means nothing if the people interacting with your customers are not professional, responsible and genuinely helpful.

***

No right-minded business sets out to spook its customers. But that’s inevitably the outcome when companies lose sight of what’s important and valuable to the people they serve.

Are you haunted by the prospect of your customers defecting to a competitor? Do something about it before your worst nightmares become a reality. Let these 10 tips serve as your guide, and, before you know it, you’ll be casting a spell on your customers that’ll have them coming back for more.

This article first appeared here.

How to Improve the Customer Journey

Nearly 60% of insurance executives rank a differentiated customer service experience as having the highest impact on successful competition. For many years, customer demands, the effects of digitizing customer relationships and the creation of a successful customer journey have been the focus when it comes to customer service in the insurance business. But inquiries in the insurance industry are issue-driven, and customers often only reach out when they have a problem and are already likely frustrated. So, how do you make sure customers are truly the focus of your business during every touchpoint with your brand?

From when potential customers start evaluating insurance offerings to the point where a customer reaches out for support or submits a service claim with your organization, what are consumers expecting in terms of service? Throughout the customer journey, insurers must adapt to the unique needs of each consumer to provide the best experience and earn loyal customers who will serve as important ambassadors for your company.

Here are tips for creating a positive relationship between insurer and customer at each stage of the customer journey:

Actively Communicate During the Consultation Phase

Insurance isn’t a nice-to-have, and consumers seek coverage out of necessity rather than desire. Changes in someone’s personal situation trigger consumers to enter the consultation phase and start requesting information from insurers. Instead of insurers looking to create demand, customer communication in large part only begins when the need is already acute. Traditionally, interactions between insurers and customers are “accident-driven” instead of being initiated by insurance companies. So, how do you improve the customer experience?

See also: 8 Key Changes for Customer Experience  

Many insurance companies are failing to promote products or services to customers. Too often, customer interactions are based on need and without cause, occurring haphazardly. Globally, 44% of customers have had no interactions with their insurers in the last 18 months. Instead of relying on customers to communicate, insurers should take more control by making customers aware of comprehensive risks and the need to protect against them.

Personalize Across Channels in the Purchase Decision Phase

As customers enter the purchase decision phase, the customer experience becomes even more integral. With the growth of digital channels, there are several options for a customer to purchase a policy, such as personal sales, an intermediary, your website or comparison portals. With 80% of customers willing to use digital and remote channel options to complete tasks and transactions, it is critical to meet customers with a highly personalized approach regardless of the purchase platform.

Customers value an easy process and individualized options and want to buy from insurance companies that serve up comprehensive policy information that is tailored to their situation. Across all purchase options, the human factor (or personal contact) is a crucial component of converting a prospect into a customer. Personal consultations still remain important, but consumers now also expect to quickly reach you through intermediaries, service centers or digital channels. To offer both detailed and personalized communications, insurance companies need to offer personal consultation services that are supported by other channels to communicate the value of products and services.

Balance Humans and Technology During the Support and Service Phases

When customers reach out for support, they want the experience to be three things: personal, fast and easy. Insurers must integrate trusted, familiar contact channels with digital options. While customers still want quick and stress-free access to friendly and accommodating insurers over the phone, there is also a desire to communicate via digital contact options like email, chat and even self-service. For customers, analog and digital channels are equally important when they are looking for insurance support.

When submitting a claim, customers also want a seamless, rapid and individualized process. Although customers are used to leveraging the service center for direct exchanges with insurers, digital and mobile processing are often underused even though they can increase efficiency by solving claims quickly and providing tracking for customers.

See also: Customer Experience Gets a Major Facelift  

Final Thoughts

The insurer-customer relationship is a valuable differentiator throughout the entire customer journey from the initial consultation through to support and claims. To put customers front and center every step of the way, insurers need to communicate during the information phase, focus on personalizing interactions with customers on diverse channels during the purchase phase and create a blend between personal contact and digital tools to elevate support and claims services. To attract and retain customers, insurers must seek opportunities to innovate their service approach to address customers’ needs and drive positive experiences during every touchpoint along the customer journey.

How to Keep Humanity in Online Sales

It’s no secret that the small business insurance industry is creeping online, representing the start of an insurtech revolution. More insurers are realizing that customers are getting comfortable buying directly from them — and aren’t shy about asking for specific products. There is a huge opportunity for insurers making the jump online, but I would argue that it’s not going to be the first online insurance brokerage that wins…

It’s the one that won’t lose its humanity in the face of the digitalization.

Here’s a deeper look at how online insurers can provide a more comfortable and human experience for their customers:

Follow the Golden Rule

It’s a timeless piece of advice, and for good reason: If you wouldn’t accept a certain level of treatment as a customer, you shouldn’t treat your own customers that way.

Think about every part of your customers’ journey and how your brand interacts with them at key touchpoints. For example, if they call with questions about their policy, are they able to speak with an adviser immediately, or are they on hold for several minutes? Is your site copy easy to understand, or would it take an insurance agent to decipher what you’re trying to say?

See also: 5 Digital Predictions for Agents in 2019  

Analyzing your customer journey with this empathetic lens can help you better understand opportunities for a more human touch.

Don’t make it complicated

It’s a huge understatement to say that the insurance industry can be complicated. That’s why, as insurers move to the online world, it’s important to make it easy for customers to get what they need. Don’t overcomplicate things for them or add information that they really don’t need to know. A large number of small business owners are probably shopping online for insurance before or after putting in a full day’s work; they just want what they need, and that’s it. Your digital experience is the face of the company, so make sure it provides a smooth process.

Leave industry jargon at the door

Be smart about what you’re presenting to the customer because, as I mentioned in my last point, our industry is overwhelming. Creating a more humanizing digital experience involves leaving behind the jargon and framing the conversation in a way that’s easier for the customer to understand.

Deliver on your promises

A lot of insurtech companies are jumping on chatbots as a platform for engaging with customers. But bots can quickly lead to a negative brand experience if you don’t have the logistics to support chats. Recently, I left a query on a brand’s chatbot and was told that I would get an answer about three hours later (already unacceptable). Seven hours later, I got a response — but the answer didn’t even relate back to my question. Needless to say, the frustrating experience hurt my opinion of that brand.

See also: Best of Both Worlds: Humans and Tech  

If you’ve promised your customers something – like support or an easy claims experience – you need to deliver on your promise. It’s as simple as that.

Marketers Bringing Action to Big Data

Today’s mobile, social world has created an explosion of data that is presenting great opportunities for all industries, especially insurance. Consider that by 2020 new information produced per second for every human being will reach 1.7 megabytes. And the volume of big data will increase from 4.4 zettabytes to roughly 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.

With large data resources, carriers and their customers are collaborating more efficiently, resulting in better, faster, and more valuable interactions that in the end are intended to deliver a better consumer experience. They’re also entering a time where they can be more accurate and precise. For example, the data available today enables theoretical “pools of 1” versus the typical insurance pools that have led to risk sharing across large groups of people. In addition, the vast majority of data is unstructured—or social media postings, online and offline shopping activity, emails, reports, and interviews. This isn’t the data we’re used to and the implications of this potential has both pros and cons for insurance.

Pros and Cons

Without a doubt, big data’s influence is present throughout the insurance value chain – more specifically, during product development, pricing, marketing, sales, customer service, claims and management activities. Data is also being used to streamline the application and claims process. Applying machine learning algorithms to outcomes is helping claims processing. There’s also been a noted reduction in fraud through better identification techniques.

See also: Cognitive Computing: Taming Big Data  

On the flip side, complexity and volume of data may present hurdles for less data-centric and smaller insurers. There are challenges in terms of technology and data science resource constraints, as well as increased consumer privacy concerns. Further, we see some companies unable to leverage data because their culture doesn’t support innovation. Some carriers, such as Progressive, don’t have that problem. Another example is Nationwide, where the company’s chief data officer, Jim Tyo, has a stated goal “to not be an insurance company but to be a data company that sells insurance.” Unfortunately, we bump up against folks at other companies who are on the opposite end of the “strong data culture” spectrum.

Relevance

While most insurance carriers have an overabundance of data about their prospects and customers, the challenge is making that data accessible, actionable and relevant in real time. The undeniable goal is to ensure the data adds value to the business to acquire, retain and grow the customer base. It’s essential to gain access to the right data at the right time and turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers.

Big data is making it easier to target markets with more precision and assist with personalized marketing (see a recent McKinsey article on this topic)—both of which improve the customer experience. With so much data available, ensuring relevance and quality is a key difference between those successfully using big data and those who are struggling to understand it. New technologies are enabling insurance marketers like never before to sort quickly through multiple potential data sources to identify those relevant to them.

And it’s not just new data sources that offer opportunity. Our customers are also pushing the envelope by finding new use cases from existing data sources. Those who embrace this level of innovation are growing profits and gaining market share.

Lifetime Value

After 20-plus years of online media evolution, insurance marketers have started to see that an individual digital event—where the consumer is researching or raising his or her hand for an insurance product on a given brand’s site or a third-party comparison site—is one moment in time in the consumer’s journey. It’s one of several critical moments where carriers are aligning their engagement efforts. And these moments are fueling the big data available to insurance marketers, which is evidenced by the nearly 1.5 million unique online insurance events my organization sees every day.

The customer’s engagement involves research ahead of the quote request and more research after, ultimately leading to the conversion event. All of the breadcrumbs along the journey tend to be inaccessible to marketers or the media partners that are creating this behavioral data. Brands and partners are both challenged to connect these intent signals, but they are incredibly important. Technology to connect these events in the consumer’s journey is essential.

See also: 3-Step Approach to Big Data Analytics  

Done right, and in partnership with the digital ecosystem, these tools can identify individual consumer behavior and link multiple activities regardless of device type. That data can be converted into insights that can then be leveraged in real time to retain current customers, grow relationships with existing customers and establish new relationships.

The majority of the top insurance companies in the U.S. are connecting the dots and using sophisticated technology and data to gain real-time intelligence into the origin, history and intent of prospects and customers. Such solutions enable carriers and agents to follow consumers on their buying journeys until the end when they purchase a policy, helping insurers observe and access behavioral data they can use to analyze the intent of the consumer at any given moment.

When marketers gain the ability to identify and take action on data, they can be more efficient and simultaneously enhance the consumer experience and increase customer lifetime value.

Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 3)

What is a digital insurer? In my previous two blog posts we dived into the digital deep end. In Part 1, we looked at what a digital insurer is and what it is not. We examined the link between customer-centricity and digital readiness, and we attempted to resolve the paradox of being an insurer that is running core systems yet wants to use agile emerging technologies and insurtech capabilities. In Part 2, we likened digital enterprise to a three-chambered fusion reactor that includes apps, content and journey. The reactor safely conducts the molecular fusion of core transactional capabilities and innovative emerging technologies and insurtech capabilities to provide exponential energy to the enterprise. We discussed apps and content, and now we are at the moment of truth — Chamber 3. We MUST design our fusion reactor to use the full power of the customer journey, creating compelling and relevant experiences. The experience is the most vital chamber of our fusion reactor for building our new digital framework.

Experience and Experimentation

Experience is how we build the FINAL customer journey and deliver it to our intended customers. To experiment with new business models, new pricing models and new customer interactions, we need to employ the full power of speed to value, improved total cost of ownership (TCO) and rich ecosystems.

This is the era of digital, and speed is analogous to digital. Think about it. Instant gratification is becoming the norm in our society, and the speed of innovations is exponentially increasing. For insurers, this means we must ensure that our new digital platform can provide the speed, agility and cost-effective mediums that will yield speed in the customer journey and speed in the implementation of innovations.  What is not possible with entrenched systems is now possible with cloud deployment as long as the platform is designed for the cloud and not just retrofitted to run on external servers with architecture designed for on-premises expensive deployment and upgrades.

See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 1)  

Find and Bind

Find and bind will become a “most sought” requirement in the near future. Because long and expensive integrations cannot keep up with accelerating growth in innovations, a new methodology is needed to stay on top of innovation. A find-and-bind platform reimagines how new capabilities can be quickly bound to existing apps and content for designing overall functions and customer journeys. Find-and-bind architectures may appear to be “nice-to-have” now, but they are increasingly becoming important for leveraging new capabilities to continually innovate. Majesco is investing valuable R&D funds in this next-generation digital platform. Find-and-bind platforms will revolutionize how insurers think of themselves because they will open the doors to a thousand timely opportunities.

Customer Journeys — The Real Deal

An organization will know that it has arrived at digital fusion when it has fashioned and is using capabilities to design, implement, deploy, measure and tweak customer journeys for the insured and intermediaries.

Many companies are using their customer satisfaction numbers as evidence that they are either “digital enough” or that they don’t need to move forward quickly. For example, a company-wide goal of customer satisfaction of 95% or above is often translated as 95% of customer satisfaction by each silo owner. This is not a bad goal – 19 out of 20 customers will be satisfied and a promoter of the company. But there is a problem, pointed out in a study by McKinsey. The study revealed that that a typical claims process goes through five to seven silos – underwriting, claims adjustment, payment, etc. If we assume that the journey runs through five silos and each achieve their goals of 95% customer satisfaction, there is a 5% dissatisfaction possibility at each stage. It isn’t the same 5% of people who are dissatisfied at every stage. The net overall customer satisfaction drops to only 75%, which is terrible. How is digital involved in customer satisfaction and in improving satisfaction across the journey?

By recrafting the customer journey and its processes, we can cut through silos and unify the experience so that satisfaction is reached throughout. We use journey maps to establish a customer-centric brand by feeding customer experience back into the design. In other words, we use data and analytics from IoT, social and other non-conventional data to custom fit the experience to the user, regardless of whether the interaction is initiated by customers, intermediaries or insurers. Then, we monitor effectiveness and continually use our knowledge to raise the bar of customer experience.

Is your organization an aspiring digital insurer? I’ve created a list of questions that may help you to consider the importance of change.  

  • Can our digital strategy for delivery in differentiated customer experience really be supported with traditional platforms, attaching analytics and digital systems to silo-designed core systems?
  • Are we able to test customer journey maps and learn, to continually innovate the customer experience?
  • Are we able to focus on innovations and not be distracted by infrastructure and IT operations?
  • Do we have “first-mover” advantages when we roll out new products, new services and new customer experiences, leveraging innovative data sources and technology?
  • Can we achieve acceleration and scalability to launch our digital strategy by leveraging an industry platform that is designed outside-in and continually invested with expert innovations?

See also: Change Accelerates in Core Systems 

You can start small or you can start big but staying still is not an option.

This article was written by Manish Shah.