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April 30, 2019

Who Is Your Customer; How Is the Experience?

Summary:

The amount of low-hanging fruit with few costs and high impact for both the customer experience and optimized operations is incredible.

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In today’s digital world, companies have to focus on customers and their experience. No longer is it just about optimizing the business and processing the transaction; the overall experience matters for retention and renewal. It is essential to create a seamless digital experience that is tailored and personalized, based on understanding customers and their needs.

The first thing an insurer must do is define who the customer is. Depending on a company’s channel – direct, captive or independent agents – the definition becomes not only complex but political and even cultural and structural.

Historically, for many insurers whose channels have been independent agencies, the agent or broker has always been the customer. But more insurers have embraced the reality that the policyholder is also the customer. There is often a debate as to where the CX focus should be: on the policyholder or the agent? I believe insurers need to consider both as customers – different customers, but both customers. In most cases, agents own and manage the relationship with the policyholder, and the insurer provides services to the policyholder. Insurers need to embrace both agent and policyholder and the connectivity of the triad relationship, and how these relationships and connections fuel one another.

See also: Bold Prediction on Customer Experience  

Ease of doing business is the requirement for any insurance customer in today’s digital, connected world. Agents choose where to place the business based on ease of doing business (along with the relationship, product coverages and pricing).

There are a few key areas to focus on to improve the agent experience, like providing agents with the right technology solutions and tools to quickly and painlessly quote, bind, issue, endorse and renew. Agents expect it to be fast and easy to understand each insurer’s product and risk appetite and to have clear visibility into the status of all interactions between the agency and insurer – as well as the policyholder and insurer.

While the agent may have a personal relationship with the insured, insurers do interact with policyholders: making payments, changing pay plans, asking questions around a final audit invoice, having loss control visits and, of course, experience the whole claims process. The key to providing a really great customer experience for the policyholder includes providing a personalized touchpoint in any channel – whether it is paper, digital or face-to-face – and ensuring communications are easy, accurate, consistent and straightforward. Last, but not least, minimizing or even eliminating the need to call, maximizing the experience when customers do need to call to a one-call-resolution and providing the option to go to the self-service portal are all goals of the transformed customer experience.

As we look at the customer experience today, there is tremendous opportunity to transform not only the customer experience but your company, as well. As we work with insurers on their CX transformation journeys, the amount of low-hanging fruit with minimal costs and high impact for improvement to both the customer experience and the optimization of operations is incredible. But first, you must be clear as to who your customer is. Then, declare that your company is on a CX transformation journey. Now, you are ready to move forward.

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About the Author

Deb Smallwood, the founder of Strategy Meets Action, is highly respected throughout the insurance industry for strategic thinking, thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Insurers and solution providers turn to Smallwood for insight and guidance on business and IT linkage, IT strategy, IT architecture and e-business.

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