While everyone understands the meaning of customer service, ask a handful of people for a definition of “customer experience,” and you’ll probably get a handful of answers.
In fact, it can be summed up quite simply: the entirety of the interactions a customer has with a company and its products.
New entrants to the brokerage market, without a large customer base and loyal customers to draw on, must differentiate themselves by putting customer experience at the heart of their business model, meaning traditional brokers must respond to keep up.
Customers value the advice and expert help they get from their broker, but, with expectations set by other industries, they also expect quality, speed, and simplicity during every interaction.
The good news is that brokers who take the time to understand and improve customer experience are rewarded with more referrals, higher revenue per customer, lower churn, and better customer satisfaction ratings
And, let’s face it, the insurance industry has work to do when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Chasing the lowest premium has long been the goal of buyers, particularly for personal lines, but that’s changing as they put more emphasis on factors like convenience and speed. Making customer experience one of your priorities means you can respond and avoid competing solely on price.
When trying to tackle a problem as complex as customer experience, you first need to understand how customers interact with your business — the customer journey — and eliminate problems that cause dissatisfaction or result in lost business.
Using data to understand the customer journey
There are two types of interactions that need to be understood and improved: moments of truth and pain points.
Moments of truth are interactions that are particularly valuable to the customer — making a claim, for example. If the interaction is quick and straightforward, the customer is left with a positive view of the broker and their service. A sentiment that will inform future product decisions and color conversations with friends and colleagues.
Contrast that with painful experiences that have the opposite effect — a lengthy process that must be re-started because of a system crash, or where they're left in a call queue waiting to speak to an agent to answer a simple question.
But to understand where the pain points are and how well, or otherwise, your moments of truth are meeting the customer’s expectations, you need the power of data management.
Analyzing transactional data from multiple sources — such as service requests, sales calls, emails or website visits — gives you a better understanding of customer behavior.
What channels do customers use for contact or transaction? What information are they regularly asking for? What do they complain about?
Armed with this knowledge, you know exactly what changes you need to make to your business processes to improve their experience.
Using data to improve customer service
Provide 24x7 self-service: providing customers with self-service access to basic information frees up resources in the brokerage but, more importantly, gives customers what they need on their terms: when they want it and how they get it.
A customer portal can be updated in real-time, meaning current information is always available. And using the portal for two-way information exchange allows customers to upload information to support a claim or application - a picture of damage or identity documents, for example.
Make all interactions context-based: make moments of truth frictionless by pre-populating applications, renewals or claims with data you hold from previous interactions.
And help customer facing staff make short work of answering queries by making sure they have details of recent customer transactions, positive or negative, at their fingertips.
Use dashboards to spot problems: monitoring metrics such as open claims or number of complaints can highlight recurring hotspots that suggest a bigger problem.
For example, an increased number of phone calls asking for help could indicate a customer who's getting more frustrated and can trigger action from sales or service before the problem becomes a complaint and lost business.
Using data to improve sales & marketing
Make regular contact: many customers only contact brokers when they want to buy, which means the conversation will quickly turn to price. Instead, brokers can use data analysis to find opportunities for contact throughout the year.
For example, monitoring a client's website and social media for company news can be used by sales and marketing teams to make contact and keep the dialogue ticking over.
Proactive, personalized selling: using data analysis to find the product holdings held by customers with a similar profile helps producers develop cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. (We’ll write more about this in our next article, Using data to maximize revenue growth).
Combine data for added value: enriching the data with third-party provided credit risk or marketing lists, for example, can make your data even more valuable. Customer onboarding can be processed faster and marketing campaigns can be better focused. Modern broker management platforms make it easy to integrate with external data sources, meaning your team doesn’t have to juggle different datasets.
Offering a great customer experience helps differentiate brokers from price-based competition.
By using data effectively, you can identify which business processes must improve to meet customer needs for quality, speed and simplicity, and can prevent basic problems resulting in lost business.