Engaging customers has long been a top strategic initiative for any company, with 85% of insurers investing in this important aspect of retention. This focus on the customer, and the desire to improve their experience has driven technological innovation and reshaped how customers interact and engage with companies, products and services.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has only heightened the need for companies to offer their customers the information and services necessary to get them through the crisis.
Insurers that have developed digital strategies to capture, create, manage, analyze and deliver information stand to achieve the holy grail of customer engagement – a two-way dialogue. This is difficult to achieve in practice, but when it is, it’s a differentiator for insurers. Now more than ever, customers will value a company that not only understands who they are and what they need, but also responds with accurate, timely communications.
Understanding the context of every interaction is a prerequisite. In addition to considering synchronization in all channels for engagement, insurers must also address interactions across the customer life cycle. Ultimately, it is about understanding the customer journey and proactively managing the interactions through whichever channel the customer chooses at each point in that journey.
More insurers are now leveraging customer journey mapping to gain insights into context, and it is critically important that companies have the ability to operationalize those insights – in real-time, when possible.
However, there are business capabilities insurers must build or enhance to generate an accurate customer journey map that changes to keep up with a constantly evolving marketplace.
Analytics and Customer Insights:
Improving the experience for customers starts with understanding and predicting more about their needs, preferences and relationship with the insurer. Ideally, all interactions are informed by insights from customer analytics.
With regards to COVID-19:
- What are your analytics telling you about current customer behavior?
- How have these behaviors deviated from the norm?
- How are customers engaging with your services? Which channels are the most important and effective?
- As the situation changes and government agencies release new information regarding the outbreak, how are customer behaviors changing in kind?
Asking and answering questions like these will help fill in a full 360-degree customer view, which includes information about the policyholder, products, claims, and their relationships, plus the context, such as location and intent.
Ideally, this information is analyzed for insights, which can help personalize individual interactions and identify trends that will allow the insurer to initiate proactive interactions across the customer base. Whether it is identifying the best next engagement, or arming agents with relevant, timely information, analytics can support the transition to a customer engagement orientation.
Communications delivery and digital content creation: Documents, letters, and physical messages have remained vital in communications exchanges with customers over the years. The insurance companies we meet with have been straddling the print and digital world for customer communications. However, social distancing is causing consumers and companies alike to reevaluate the role of physical mediums in our day-to-day interactions.
Some documents such as policy documents, welcome kits, and renewal letters may well always be primarily produced and delivered in high-volume batch mode and delivered through the mail. However, it’s becoming increasingly common that these and other documents be loaded onto a secure portal, delivered via email, or sent to a mobile device. The most forward-thinking insurers may even choose to deliver communications through a new touch point: personalized interactive video. We have seen this work very well to get the attention of customers. The flexibility to create a document or correspondence in multiple formats and to route it to the desired delivery channel is mandatory today.
An insurer’s capability to develop and manage digital content across a wide array of channels including email, social media and video will determine whether or not they are able to provide the same level of service to policyholders in a timely manner. Insurers require modern capabilities to create/manage templates and produce/personalize individual documents that support transactions and conversations. We have seen this work effectively with many of our clients by creating a large database of content that can be delivered on-demand and customized into print on demand pieces, digital communications, and even customized presentations for producers.
Omni-channel communication: Of course, effective communications rely on more than timely, high-quality content production. Insurers must also have the capability to deliver the right message at the right time through the right channel, while providing consistent branding and high-impact interactions. Omni-channel is not just about having the technical capability to conduct business via multiple channels; it is about the harmonization of interactions across those channels, and coordinating cross-channel management such that the brand is well-represented and the results are positive. In short, don’t look disjointed, especially now! Make your brand one that policyholders can rely on to share thoughtful, timely, and coordinated guidance. Integrated marketing communications remain the key.
For the past few years, the ultimate goal in customer engagement and experience has been to create personalized, context-aware interactions. Combining customer insights, digital content creation capabilities, communications delivery, and omni-channel operations enables companies to achieve this. Customers gain the sense that the insurer knows who they are, what their needs are, how they relate to the company, where they are in the life cycle and what conversations have recently occurred. When these pieces fall into place, a carrier can do more than render a service; it can be a source of reassurance and comfort during times when those two things are in short supply.