Five Ways Insurance Companies are Winning on Customer Experience
Watching Bill Murray come up with creative ways to avoid an insurance salesman in Groundhog Day, hasn’t done the industry any favors. Insurance companies have come a long way since then but customers aren’t forgiving when it comes to negative experiences. In fact, thirty-two percent of customers canceled their services with an insurance brand after one negative experience. It makes sense since insurance protects some of our most precious and personal assets; from life itself, to our homes and even our precious pooches.
A 2022 study on customer satisfaction among insurance carriers found that 50% of five-star ratings mentioned that a "positive or empathetic adjuster attitude and handling approach" is important to their satisfaction. So, many insurance companies are focusing on changing the industry image by having a customer-centric approach.
But what are leading insurance providers doing to deliver consistently awesome and emphatic customer experiences where customers feel valued? In an industry where customer churn is high and a policyholder can change their provider overnight, insurance companies need to find innovative ways to prioritize the customer. Here are five ways for insurance companies to level up their customer experience.
1. Utilize Customer Feedback to Create Personalized Experiences
Sometimes, we’re guilty of collecting things and never using them, like cookbooks, obscure kitchen tools and exercise equipment. For insurance companies, customer feedback often sits on a (virtual) shelf, unused and underutilized. And like a gym membership, it can end up costing you. Forgotten clients on databases and feedback collected through claims, renewals and other processes are goldmines of customer info. This information, when streamlined and connected to frontline associates can personalize and improve the customer experience. For example, one customer may have provided feedback saying they loved how empathetic and personable their claims associate was, and preferred phone communications over email. Knowing this, the associate can make sure that the next customer interactions should be done over the phone, with extra emphasis on empathy and personal connection.
Unfortunately, most insurance providers are using feedback to tailor personalized experiences. Among insurance customers, 50% of them ranked personalizing digital communication as a high priority but only 17% of reported insurance companies had such communication.
2. Recognition of Frontline Teams to Create Better Insurance Experiences
Even a little bit of recognition can go a long way in engaging associates to provide improved experiences to customers. Have you heard of the term “quiet quitting”? It explains employees who just do the bare minimum at work and often feel uninspired and dispassionate about what they do. Quiet quitting may be a modern term but the disengagement of frontline workers has been bubbling for years. For the past fifteen years, over 86% of the global workforce reported not feeling engaged in the workplace (and approximately 70% of the current US workforce is concentrated in frontline jobs.)
Spencer M. Houldin, President of Ericson Insurance has seen for himself that, “Positive reinforcement is super powerful”. Recognition reinforces workplace values and motivates effort for workers to go above and beyond. In the case of Ericson Insurance, working remotely presented an extra challenge for providing recognition to their hardworking associates. It’s harder to show smiles and positive body language through a Zoom screen than in-person, Spencer says. So, they needed to get creative. Ericson Insurance frontline associates are celebrated and recognized for their awesome work through real-time feedback from customers as well as remote firm-wide meetings every two weeks to celebrate the recent achievements and the associates behind them. The more their team feels seen, valued and appreciated, the better experiences they go on to deliver to their customers.
3. An Omnichannel Approach for Customer Interactions
Gone are the days of providing a phone number and calling it a day. In today's fast-paced and digital-driven world, customer expectations have reached new heights, requiring companies to adapt and provide exceptional experiences across multiple channels.
One of the key advantages of an omnichannel approach is convenience. Customers want the flexibility to interact with insurance providers through the channels that suit them best, whether it's a phone call, online chat, email, or even social media. By offering a variety of communication options, insurers can meet customers where they are, enhancing accessibility and convenience. This level of flexibility empowers customers to choose the channel that aligns with their preferences and availability, resulting in increased satisfaction and engagement.
Another crucial benefit of an omnichannel approach is the ability to provide a consistent and seamless experience across channels. Customers expect a unified experience, regardless of how they choose to interact with the insurance company. For instance, if a customer starts an inquiry through a mobile app and later follows up with a phone call, they expect the representative to have access to the conversation history and provide a smooth continuation of the discussion. By integrating and synchronizing data across channels, insurers can deliver a cohesive experience, eliminating frustrations associated with repeating information or starting from scratch.
4. Being Proactive with Customer Feedback, Not Reactive
Think about it like this: there’s no point getting a weather warning once a storm has torn up the roof and tossed a trampoline into your yard. Customer feedback works the same way. It’s all about using the feedback, and learning from it to inspire your next best action. By actively seeking and leveraging customer feedback, insurers can gain valuable insights into pain points, preferences, and expectations. This proactive approach allows them to identify trends, anticipate customer needs, and make necessary adjustments before issues escalate. By addressing concerns and implementing customer-driven improvements promptly, insurance companies can demonstrate their commitment to providing exceptional service and build stronger, more loyal relationships with their policyholders.
5. Coaching the Frontline For Consistent Service Delivery
If customer experience is the foundation of an insurance company then the frontline are the builders. They are responsible for a customer’s view of a firm and for the delivery of many services like processing claims, renewals and calculating quotes. Many insurance companies have multiple branches, sometimes across different countries. But working at a large scale can mean it becomes harder to maintain a consistent service standard. Inconsistent service can result in mixed reviews, which isn’t attractive to prospective clients. They would rather put their trust and assets in the hands of a company that has more direction in their customer approach. All frontline staff, no matter the branch, need a solid service standard, so they can deliver a truly winning customer experience.
For Ericson Insurance, they found there was a big difference between knowing what customers cared about and thinking they knew what customers cared about. Initially, Ericson Insurance had limited ability to predict and control customer retention. But once they started collecting customer feedback, they found they could use it to guide the frontline and coach on what matters.
For insurance companies to win on customer experience, they need to:
- Use customer feedback to tailor experiences around the unique needs and desires of their customers.
- Recognize and celebrate the hard work of frontline associates.
- Utilize various channels for communicating with customers.
- Be proactive with customer feedback, use it to create change and prevent customer complaints.
- Use consistent service standards to reach consistency across various branches and locations.