These days, there’s more pressure than ever to deliver secure, seamless, real-time customer service. In fact, 54% of consumers stopped doing business with a company due to bad customer service in 2017, versus 49% in 2016. While 68% of consumers reported increased activity with companies due to good customer service. (BI Intelligence/Aspect Software).
And these types of customer service experiences are true for every industry, with insurance no exception. It’s time that insurance companies understand that they are no longer in control of their brand — their customers are. And with these customers taking to social media in droves to compare the worst and best experiences that they have had, the need for a seamless user experience designed for resolution is table stakes to win customers and to retain them.
Think about it: In times of tragedy — whether your home was hit with a natural disaster or that crazy driver ran a stop sign and smashed your passenger door — the last thing you want to do is go online to figure out and fill out endless forms, sit on hold, get bumped around through the phone chain from department to department, or worse, wait for a call back only to continue to rehash your story to each fresh set of ears.
Imagine a world where you could begin the claims process from the scene of the accident using mobile messaging. Face it: we’re already using our thumbs to tap our way to everyday conveniences, from hailing a taxi or ordering our lunch, so why not also be able to communicate and transact with our insurance companies on-demand?
I ask you this: Are the ways of a nearly unchanged century-old industry finally being disrupted?
Conversational Experience: The CX Renaissance
By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human, according to Gartner. Moreover, 45% of customers don’t care who they interact with, whether it’s a live agent or a chatbot, as long as the service is effective, accurate and quick, per BI Intelligence and Aspect Software. To me, the customer is really the disruptor here, so it is imperative that we understand and make their needs a priority. Insurance is a low interest, low involvement category. Rarely has a person looked forward to being wooed by their insurance agent. It’s not so much being delighted that consumers are after here — it’s about utility, simplicity, and accessibility. But it’s taken incumbent brands far too long to grasp the basics of business-to-consumer communications. How can the industry be more efficient when it comes to issuing a certificate or endorsement, collecting underwriting information, processing a claim, sending a cancellation notice, collecting a premium or answering simple FAQs?
I can answer that for you: through automation. We’ve been talking about “business transformation,” “continuous process improvement” and “digitizing the customer experience” for years. Now, enabled by technology and data, we don’t have to talk about it — we can do it! We’re living in the age of the conversational experience, where far beyond comments on social media, customers want to be able to message brands as they would their friends. It’s beyond chatting — it’s about gestures, rich media, and carousels. In essence, people want to conduct business inside the messaging space without having to deal with the traditional pitfalls of other customer service channels.
For insurance companies, the time has come to shift from the strictly rules-based approach of a gradually evolving and federated model of disparate and legacy systems to one where insurers continuously apply real-time learning through artificial intelligence and data science creating a truly secure and connected experience. Routine tasks that required long phone calls or scouring policy details and websites can now be resolved more efficiently through automation. The technology is here and is available to those in the industry looking to strengthen the service delivery chain linking insurers, intermediaries and their policyholders, wherever they are whenever they choose. But it is critical that this technology be implemented with a distinct focus on security and privacy, ideally through a secure and private channel that is also compliant to regulatory requirements.
But innovation is not and should never be solely about the technology. Instead innovation should revolve around the customer. In today’s digital world, customers are more empowered than ever and they expect intuitive technology that recognizes and remembers them from one interaction to the next. And believe me, if they aren’t getting what they want, they aren’t afraid to let the world know on their social media pages — or worse, moving on to the next best company.
This isn’t about about the robots taking our jobs either. With rapid technology advancements taking care of the mundane tasks, such as password resets or basic policy information, you can free your best people for more complex, higher touch issues. It’s about using technolgy to augment people and help companies consistently deliver better experiences while reducing operating costs.
In essence, the use of smart phones for voice has long taken a back seat to data and text. Conversational experience is no longer voice-only — in this mode automated messaging is king. Customers expect what they want the way they want it when they want it. Technology can help provide it — even if you aren’t thinking about it, your customers are.
The original version of this article appeared in CustomerThink, click here to view.