Reimagining the Customer Journey for Insurance Customers
The very nature of the insurance industry is to provide security and stability in the face of uncertainty. However, no amount of preparation by insurers would have been enough to foresee and respond to the sheer scale of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the industry has dealt with pandemics in the past, such as HIV and SARS, none have had the same widespread impact on the economy and businesses as COVID-19. It also differs from other catastrophic events such as flood and hurricanes, because it is not limited geographically, can extend over long periods and has no obvious end date. In other words, COVID-19 is in a class all its own.
However, while the pandemic has brought with it its own set of unique challenges for the insurance industry to tackle, it’s also presented an opportunity for many to accelerate the reimagining the customer journey and improve their services.
The Customer Journey
Shortly before the pandemic hit, multinational professional services firm, PWC released a report that revealed that 70% of insurances CEOs were planning on prioritising and investing in customer experience over the next year. Even though it was on their radar pre-pandemic, the sudden onset of COVID-19 has drastically accelerated this priority for many by emphasising the need for a human-centric approach and further digitisation.
Back in April, The Swiss Re COVID-19 APAC Consumer Survey found that the pandemic has transformed customer’s view on insurance products and the way they purchase them. Unsurprisingly, interest in Life & Health insurance, in particular, has increased among consumers since the outbreak of the pandemic, with many seeing it as a “must-have.” 67% of respondents also said when it came to choosing an insurer, processing policies online from start to finish was a top consideration.
Whether consumers are buying products to protect themselves or their loved ones from future calamities, insurers should take this chance to shine by providing a customer experience that puts trust, empathy and care at the forefront. To achieve this, there are a few things that the industry might want to consider trying.
Prioritising Customer Care
Customer experience and trust may go hand in hand but building customer trust is not something that happens overnight. It’s something that needs to be nurtured gradually across a series of touchpoints, ranging from marketing to agent interactions to claims to online platforms.
Now is an understandably confusing and anxious time for customers. They will undoubtedly have concerns and questions about their policies and want reassurance that their claims will be paid. However, as any insurer worth their weight in gold will know, it doesn’t always work out this way, especially during pandemics which aren’t always covered. Regardless, if insurance businesses want to retain their customers and build trust, these questions and concerns will need to be addressed with both honesty and empathy.
While customer expectations for speed, convenience, personalisation and genuine care during interactions still remain but is more pressing for insurance businesses to have this now. Insurers can deliver on this demand by offering an efficient digitised customer experience that focuses on the consumers’ needs and desires, from the first interaction straight through to the claims process. This journey should be supplemented with personal contact at sensitive touchpoints to maintain a human and personal feel.
Another way to build trust and provide customer care is through consistency. Customers want their insurers to deliver a consistent experience every time they get in touch, regardless of the channel they choose to use and expect this level of continuity to be maintained between departments and services,
Helping B2B Customers with Stabilisation
The pandemic has had devastating effects on almost all businesses this year, but small and medium-sized ones have been hit particularly hard. With so much continued uncertainty over how long the pandemic will continue for, insurers can demonstrate their value to these customers and offer practical risk management advice that will benefit their business, their customers and the economy.
By helping these businesses stabilise their operations, insurers can also stabilise their own commercial insurance line of business. For example, if an insurance business insurers numerous restaurants in a certain region, their agents can assist the restaurant owners by providing valuable insights on the threats, opportunities and trend they could face, which can help them plan for the future more effectively.
Agents can also provide expert advice on health and safety measures, which could prevent incidents and the need for the customer to file a claim at all. Some B2B insurance businesses have also been going the extra mile for their customers by extending their premium terms. This again can contribute towards building customer trust and prioritising customer care.
Investing in Employee Experience
Positive customers experiences are only possible with an equally positive employee experience. With the right tools and training at their disposal, which remove potential barriers to the customer journey, employees can fully focus on their customer and address their needs seamlessly, while also representing the brand well. This vital frontline also needs full clarity on contracts and polices from leadership teams, so as to be able to communicate changes and updates to customers confidently and without delay.
Customising agent’s dashboards, offering incentives and training and redesigning workflows are just some of the ways insurers have already started optimising their employee experience this year.
The impact of employee and customer experiences can be measured by a concept called “Return on Experience” or ROX, which was pioneered by PwC last year. The ROX concept advocates that systematically connecting customer, employee and leadership experience can drive and amplify value for the business. This process can provide real-time insights that insurers can use to pinpoint issues and implement changes that improve each step of the customer and employee journey.
By focusing on these key areas, insurers can turn this global crisis into a long-sought opportunity to dramatically reimagine their services and operations around their most important asset, the customer. They might not be quick fixes, but if done well, they have the potential to continue long after the pandemic comes to an end.