Customer Allegiances Are Brittle
Insurance, at its core, is a service industry. Good customer service has always been an industry imperative. Given that backdrop, what is driving today’s hyperfocus on customer experience? It’s a combination of intense competition for premium dollars, innovative service designs, pervasive technology, and comparative experiences.
Insurers are competing against the best service providers across a host of industries. Customers are accustomed to “new era” service from all kinds of businesses (e.g., Uber, OnStar, FedEx), which automatically raises their expectations, regardless of industry. So, when a customer receives disappointing service, it really stands out. And with today’s social media platforms, it’s easy for customers to trumpet their disappointment. All it takes is two minutes and a click of a button to post a scathing review.
Complicating things further is that the convenience enabled by technology has also made customer allegiances increasingly brittle. It’s easier now to switch to a competitor who has a better Yelp reputation or a better app. To combat all this, businesses are investing heavily in customer experience innovation. Insurance is no exception.
Guiding Principles and Best Practices for Customer Experience
Delivering a superior customer experience is a powerful differentiator that builds allegiance and drives growth and profitability. But designing that experience and delivering it consistently is remarkably complex, especially in our highly regulated industry. We can attest to that, having designed many customer experience programs for insurers. Here are some guiding principles:
- Customer service is transactional; customer experience is strategic.
- Customers want an emotionally satisfying experience. Ironically, the core transaction can often be secondary to the overall experience. Ask a Lexus owner about this.
- Customer experience is by design. It’s not just good faith, culture, process, technology, people…it’s all those things and more, orchestrated within a tailored customer experience model.
- Customers can be the source of innovation—listen carefully!
A major part of customer experience design complexity is integrating it into core technologies. Consider these best practices:
- “Keep the customer in the room” throughout the technology deployment process—from design through testing through operational rollout. This responsibility should be assigned to specific individuals with clear accountabilities.
- Incorporate analytics that identify which customers drive the most value and what’s uniquely important to them.
- Build in measures, feedback mechanisms, and control points that feed a formal continuous improvement program across your service channels. The goal is for customers to consistently say, “I got what I needed, it was easy, and I felt good about it.” This is the secret sauce of retention, referrals, and brand strength.
- Don’t allow security and privacy requirements to dominate the customer experience. Strong security and streamlined authentication are not mutually exclusive.
- Make it just as easy for a customer to access a service agent as it is to access web self-service.
Given the trends in customer expectations and competitive differentiation, a question of strategic importance to every carrier is: Is your organization doing the right things to deliver a satisfying and competitive customer experience?
Find out how ReSource Pro can help you develop or adjust your customer experience-driven strategy by visiting our Carrier Consulting page.