Engaging customers is a top strategic initiative for any company. Customer experience and engagement has been and continues to be the number one strategic initiative for insurers, with 85% of insurers investing in this important aspect of retaining customers. The focus on the customer, and the desire to improve their experience, is driving technological innovation and reshaping how customers interact and engage with companies, products and services. The Internet, mobile capabilities, social media, AI and collaboration technologies have created a set of expectations that insureds now apply to their interactions with all companies, including insurers.

This is leading many insurers to develop digital strategies designed to capitalize on opportunities to capture, create, manage, analyze, and deliver information digitally. The most effective digital strategies also recognize the ongoing importance of print, mail, and face-to-face communications. It’s an omni-channel world and insurers are racing to provide more options and more synchronized communications across all channels.

Insurers must strive to create a two-way dialog with their policyholders. Understanding the context of every interaction is vital. In addition to considering synchronization in all channels for engagement, insurers must also address interactions across the customer lifecycle. Ultimately, it is about understanding the customer journey and proactively managing the interactions through whatever channel the customer chooses at each point in the lifecycle. This is easy to say but difficult to achieve in practice. But when it is achieved, it is the differentiator for insurers. Customers value a company that understands who they are and provides accurate, timely communications. This contributes significantly to customer loyalty.

Journey Mapping

More insurers are now leveraging customer journey mapping to gain insights into context, but what is critically important is that companies have the ability to operationalize those 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.

The business capabilities insurers must build or enhance fall into several categories.

Customer insights: Improving the experience for customers starts with understanding and predicting more about their needs, preferences, and relationship with the insurer. This means having a full 360-degree customer view, incorporating information about the policyholder, products, claims, and their relationships, plus the context, such as location and intent, and then using analytics against that data to predict and recommend actions. Ideally, this information is analyzed for insights to inform interactions, including real-time analysis of the interactions themselves. Insurer-initiated interactions can be more proactive and personalized to be more effective. 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. Note that traditional “best next action” capabilities combine data with real-time analytics to determine the best offer or message (the ‘action’) to make to the customer. Today, customer engagement is more than just offers and messages, it is bi-directional. This might be a conversation with a customer to see if everything is OK, or waiting until the customer next engages with your website.

Digital content creation: Documents, letters, and messages are vital in the communications exchange with customers. Virtually all communications today begin as digital content, even if they are ultimately delivered as printed pieces. 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, even customized presentations for producers.

Communications delivery: The insurance companies we meet with are straddling the print and digital world for customer communications. Many are seeking a common approach to managing and optimizing delivery through all channels. Some documents such as policy documents, welcome kits, and renewal letters may be primarily produced and delivered in high-volume batch mode and delivered through the mail. Others may be loaded onto a secure portal, delivered via e-mail, or sent to a mobile device. The most forward-thinking insurers may even choose to deliver communications through a new touchpoint: personalized interactive video. We have seen this work very well to get the attention of customers. The flexibility to create the document or correspondence and route it to the desired delivery channel is mandatory today.

Omni-channel communication: 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! Integrated marketing communications is still the key.

Personalized interactions: The ultimate goal is 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 lifecycle, and what conversations have recently occurred.

Our next article will talk about journey mapping, and multi-channel communications as it relates to the various insurance industries — P&C Commercial Lines, Personal Lines, Healthcare and Life Insurance.