While customer service has long been the key to success in the world of insurance, changes in customer expectations and technology have given rise to new rules of engagement when delivering that service.
Thanks to advancements in automation, mobile technology, data accessibility, and artificial intelligence (AI), insurance customers can shop around like never before. If a broker isn't meeting their customers’ needs, it's a matter of a few clicks to find one that will. And, more often than not, these decisions are made in the first few minutes of the consumer-brand interaction. Now, add to that increased access to the internet. In 2019, the number of internet users worldwide was 4.13 billion, up from 3.92 billion in the previous year. A massive part of that has been the effect of increased access to mobile devices.
Did you know that mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide? In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.53 percent of global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50 percent mark since the beginning of 2017.
These numbers show that it's no coincidence that many providers in the insurance industry are looking to mobile-first channels, to serve customers better.
Bottom line: Insurance brokers need to develop strategies that embrace the needs of their customers to facilitate real-time responses to their requests, if they want to stand out from the competition. So fully embracing a customer-first approach is going to be the best insurance broker differentiator.
The insurance industry hasn't exactly been known for sparkling customer service over recent years. The facts bear this out. A strategy report by Accenture that still holds water, found that customer churn due to poor customer service and declining loyalty costs upwards of $470 billion in premiums per year. And even worse, an article by Insurance Journal from way back in 2015 cited that a mere 27% of policyholders "have a high estimation of their insurance providers’ trustworthiness." Then and even more so now, consumers aren't willing to put up with poor customer service experiences. The fact of the matter is that there are too many other options out there for them. Now, they can quickly and easily switch to a broker or an insurer that does care about their needs, and the statistics below show that is exactly what they are doing:
"...61 percent of insurance consumers in the United Kingdom, 76 percent in Germany and 79 percent in Spain say their insurer choice is influenced by the quality of the carrier’s claims-handling and customer service. That service would be improved if insurers enabled their customers to make more complex self-service transactions online than just getting a quote or making a payment...".
Clearly, the opportunity is there. Brokers that are ready to go digital and develop a strategy to become customer-centric in their approach are definitely going to blow away the competition.
Why a Customer Portal Matters?
We know customers now demand more. After many years of enjoying user-friendly and secure ways to log in and view their details in other sectors, such as online banking, shopping, etc. they now expect the same from insurance.
A customer portal is a great place to start. It’s a secure way to give your customers a more complete, convenient, and seamless service with easy access to all their documentation and data, from anywhere and anytime, while reducing the time, costs, and resources otherwise needed to manage customer needs.
Your portal can be designed to match your website, allowing you to keep the customer experience consistent with your other brand touchpoints. All fields can be tailored and set up in the way you want, with secure access from any device to customers’ policy portfolios and other key information, such as renewals, claims, policies, quotes, broker contact details, and more.
A driving force behind consumer happiness is the ease of getting information and the ability to manage certain features and feel more in control. With a self-service portal there is zero data lag for customers, so they see the same live information as is managed in the internal, back office broker management system all in real-time. So whenever customers make or request changes to their accounts through the portal, the back office management system is instantly notified and the broker can respond accordingly.
For brokers, data is providing more opportunity than ever before. Smart broker management platforms that have real-time, data-driven insights and actionable intelligence enable brokers to provide that added-value when interacting with customers and prospects. This is a vast improvement over the days of cold calling or trying to engage with customers who aren't interested or in need of help. In fact, almost 80% of consumers are more than willing to hand over their personal data if it means that they will get access to lower premiums, more tailored recommendations for policies, and quicker settlement claims. In terms of the digital broker, migrating systems from legacy to cloud-based and data-driven also means getting a better handle on data and the business overall. All too often, data is siloed across a brokerage, with separate departments managing different lines of business and the systems related to them, including billing and claims. When information isn't integrated, the customer experience suffers, especially when it comes to the personalization so many consumers have now come to expect.
These seemingly small things, when missed, result in the loss of prospects and frustrated customers. But when they are seen as a differentiator, then a cohesive strategy can be built around these data-driven value-add interactions.
Brokers need to find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd. Differentiate! Go all in on customer experience, customer service and make your customer’s journey a priority.