When thinking about improving the customer experience in insurance – where should one even start? Every customer journey is different. They might start with a Google search, scroll through your home page (for a few seconds), fill out an online application, get distracted in the middle of it — submit it, and then wait for an agent to reach out. If they’re lucky, they might get a status update or follow-up email.
We can tell you one thing they’re not starting with: picking up the phone to call you. At least not nearly as often as they used to. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a wonderful digital experience. In this article, our focus is on improving customer experience in insurance with automation (and why it matters.)
The insurance industry is becoming customer-centric
Instant gratification culture is rapidly pushing the insurance industry towards day-of approvals and live help for current and prospective customers. Modern consumers expect seamless customer service delivered on their timeline. If they don’t get what they want, they’ll quickly move on to the next competitor.
33% of Americans consider switching companies after only one experience of poor service. This means that the success of insurers is determined by who can offer convenient, customer-centric service when and where the customer wants it.
Your ads can only be so funny – at the end of the day, you’ll win customers through a positive user experience, a competitive price point, and a trustworthy brand.
And while the days of welcoming customers into your retail branch with a smile and some warm cookies may be numbered, there are lots of benefits of a digital-first approach.
Here are a few examples:
- Faster processing, underwriting, and claims initiation (with less manual labor)
- Reduced live customer service costs
- Increased employee productivity
- Greater data insights
- Higher quality leads
- Deeper connections with policyholders
- Higher conversion rates
The benefits are clear – so what’s stopping carriers from accelerating their digital transformations even faster?
Keys to Improving Customer Experience in Insurance
- “KISS” – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
How many web pages does your potential customer need to click through before finding what they’re looking for? Is your online application process confusing? Do they have to wait too long for a quote? Where do they go with a question? How long do they have to wait on hold to speak with an agent? If any of it feels too complicated, you’ve instantly lost them.
Identify the points of friction in your current customer journey and find solutions based on your customer’s perspective. After all, getting a new insurance policy shouldn’t feel like a root canal.
- Avoid “They don’t get me’s”
And no we’re not talking about your teenager; we’re talking about a policyholder who wants to feel like you ‘get’ them. Understanding the wants, needs, and intent of your potential customer helps them build a sense of trust with you.
Start by integrating your systems together so you never ask for repeat information. Anticipate their next move with AI so a chatbot or live agent can pop up at the right time with the right question/answer. Personalize every touchpoint across the service experience with datasets that allow a live sales representative to see claims that were filed just ten minutes ago. Show them that you ‘get’ them.
To take this one step further, the reality of someone interacting with insurance often means that something has gone wrong. Maybe a customer was in an accident or a relative died. Even if the event hasn’t happened yet, insurance is anticipated protection for when it does. Building trust with a personalized experience helps your policyholder gain back a sense of control that’s not easily forgotten.
- Outdated communication channels
Customers don’t want to jump through hoops in order to contact you. If they have a quick question about a claim, they shouldn’t have to wait on hold to talk with a representative. That’s just frustrating.
According to a recent IBV report, 50% of insurance customers ranked personalized digital communications as a high priority, but only 17% of insurers are leaning into it. Instead, they’re relying on live phone conversations and traditional snail mail.
We’re not suggesting you do away with your live call center — there’s a time and place for that. You should, instead, aim to expand your personalized connection points to meet the customer where they are. Chatbots, live messaging, and digital help centers are becoming increasingly popular for online users. Keeping customers informed with text messaging and personalized emails are good ways to keep their filing status’ up-to-date.
Additionally, call deflection and automatic voice menus are reliable filters when a customer does need to resort to the live call center. With those in place, your call and wait times drastically decrease, and your customer satisfaction increases.
Create Intelligent Workflows for Agent and Policyholders
Your agents are the real MVPs of the customer experience chain. When they’re ill-prepared to handle situations, everyone loses. Set your employees up for success by investing in their experience.
The problem is, if more employee training was the answer, it would be solved by now. More and more insurers are seeing success with straight-through processing, machine learning automation, and fluidless underwriting algorithms. Efficient systems in the mid-level process relieve the tedious tasks of your employee workload.
With more time to focus on important aspects of their job, your employees can field customer interactions with more resilience and ease. They’ll also be equipped with the data they need to give your customer a seamless experience.
Focus on integrating your workflows and online platforms with the ability for agents to have personalized conversations across multiple channels with policyholders.
Read more about our take on improving agent experiences right here.
Use AI End-to-End Throughout the Process
We’ve talked about integrating your online data systems for improving customer experience in insurance and you may be wondering: how exactly is this accomplished?
It’s not magic… but sometimes it seems like it is. The solution is AI at every step of your customer’s journey. This helps create a seamless experience that increases customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores, and Lifetime Value. There are dozens of benefits to infusing AI in your systems, but in this next section, we’re going to focus on leveraging it for 24/7 support and eliminating effort.
Leverage AI for 24/7 Support
Over 60% of consumers in the United States report a preference to digital self-serve tools when looking for answers. So that includes your website (primarily), mobile app, voice response system, and online chatbots. What do these all have in common? 24/7 support powered by AI.
Since customers are already on your digital platforms looking for answers, again, meet them where they are.
Let’s say a policyholder is on your website at 10 pm trying to figure out if they need to file an accident report or a claim. It’s getting late and they just want a quick answer. Instead of tracking down your phone number, navigating through the menu options only to be put on hold, a chatbot pops up with the message, “Hey (first name), what can I help you with tonight?” Your policyholder then types in “claim or accident filing” and your chatbot automatically sends them a link to the FAQ, “Do I have to report an accident or claim?” Simple, seamless, and problem solved. All powered by AI.
Eliminate Customer Effort Wherever Possible
Before contacting a live agent, 81% of all customers attempt to resolve issues on their own. Consequently, the amount of effort needed to solve their problem shapes their experience. To eliminate customer effort wherever possible, Insurance carriers should focus on self-service and automation.
To take advantage of these touchpoints, your websites must be portals for full self-service. But it’s not enough to stop there. If your self-service isn’t automatic, your policyholder may as well sit on hold again. AI is necessary to automate all touchpoints.
Want to Improve the Customer Experience? Take Notes from Retailers
We need to take customer service notes from retailers. Sure, retailers have the advantage of reading and reacting to customers in person. But guess what? Insurance companies can collect, analyze, and leverage these same behavioral cues digitally.
It all starts with first-party intent data. Using AI, carriers can create next-generation adaptive digital experiences tailored to the individual. For instance, with ForMotiv’s Behavioral Data Science solution, you can understand your user’s intent and facilitate the exact experience they needed at that moment. It’s not mind-reading, but it’s pretty close.
The ultimate goal is to create the smoothest customer experience to increase conversions without increasing your risk exposure. With ForMotiv – have your cake and eat it too.
Do you agree it’s time to start improving customer experience in insurance? Schedule a call to see ForMotiv in action.