Increase Customer Loyalty without Slowing Down Business!
Published on January 2, 2018
“…the key business impact that insurers expect from FinTech is the challenge of meeting changing customer needs and the ability to match new offerings with their expectations.” (PwC Global FinTech Survey, 2016)
Right now, there are teams of people in Silicon Valley figuring out how to deliver (and in many cases, actually delivering) a better product and a better customer experience. If you are not thinking about this, or taking action today, your organization could be the next victim of www.better-insurance-technology.com (or whatever they decide to call it).
There is little doubt that 2018 will see the continuation of an insurance revolution that is disrupting the landscape and challenging the status quo at every turn…but raw technology is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. An unforgettable customer experience is supported by technology - it isn't created by technology. The focus on artificial intelligence, app development, and account customization means nothing unless it achieves the end goal of dramatically improving the customer’s journey and ultimately, their satisfaction. After all, isn’t securing customer loyalty the desired result of all this tech?
So let’s take a look at how to preserve customer loyalty while maximizing technological efficiency. Customer Attrition (aka “turnover”) can be broken down into two parts, voluntary and involuntary.
- Involuntary Turnover is when a policy cancels due to non-payment, relocation, change in business, death, etc.
- Voluntary Turnover is when a client takes action to switch to another provider.
Every single portion of the customer experience has potential to contribute to the impetus for comparison shopping, leading to voluntary turnover. Therefore, when preparing for 2018’s rapid advancement of the digital age of insurance, it stands to reason that customer retention will deservedly be the primary focus.
This leads us to the big question...how can providers positively affect turnover and ensure client satisfaction?
“Consider that in personal lines insurance, a typical insured will submit a claim once every six years, but during that time there may be as many as 72 opportunities to interact with the customer by presenting a bill” (PwC FS Viewpoint, January 2014)
You can most effectively combat turnover by singling out the touchpoint that sees the most action - BILLING. Your customers interact with your billing interface more frequently than any other facet of your business. To gain a competitive advantage and reduce turnover, every aspect of the billing platform should be strengthened.
So what does this have to do with complacency?
I speak with insurance executives and insurance consultants on a regular basis. Reflecting on this, and in light of the InsureTech trends so evident today, I am surprised to hear how many actually view billing. To most, it’s merely a means to an end - an afterthought. Everyone says that billing is important, but very few make a meaningful effort to improve it.
How Can You Combat This Paradigm Shift and avoid being marginalized?
Today, just offering an online portal and online payments isn’t enough. Answering the phone quickly and courteously isn’t enough. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is my technology a great self-management tool that my agents and policyholders enjoy using and find easy to understand?
- Am I helping my customers navigate their busy lifestyles by reminding them when their payment is due - whenever and however they want it (text, email, phone call, invoice, etc...)
- Do I offer messages to my customers via the portal and provide helpful guidance?
- Do I make impactful suggestions by introducing other products via the portal that can help my customers further reduce their risk?
- Do I ask my agents and my policyholders what they want from my online services and make changes to improve their experience?
If your customers don’t love your online presence or can’t figure it out by themselves then you’re not doing enough. If your agents can’t get the information they need or if they find your screens or reports confusing, then you’re not doing enough. If you're not offering more than your competitors, you're not doing enough. You need to make sure that your service staff is knowledgeable and equipped with immediate answers to customer questions. Customers crave competency and efficiency, so take action! Walk through your call center and listen. Measure all of your phone call statistics and manage them to perfection.
There is always work to be done.
On some level, every company is now a technology company. The communication and delivery mechanisms used by customers are all based on technology, e.g., email conversations, electronic notice delivery, text message reminders and a cross-selling message displayed in the customer portal. The ability to recognize new tech demands and implement them quickly is vital for success. But these new implementations need to be customer-first implementations.
- Meet with your team often and talk about customer feedback on your billing solution.
- Evaluate the gaps that exist in your customer service platform and prioritize.
- Make a list of nice-to-haves that is there for all to see and focus on putting those in place.
Don't be complacent. Don't assume billing is just sending an invoice and collecting a payment. Question everything and you’ll not only stay relevant – you will find yourself leading the pack.