June 22, 2022 | Mark Snyder, Claims Subject Matter Expert, Hi Marley

Creating CX Improvement Plans? Start with Time to First Contact

More than 30 percent of consumers change insurance providers every year, and almost 40 percent of people consider switching after a single claim experience; one interaction can make or break the customer relationship. Carriers committed to retaining policyholders in this competitive market know they must deliver a superior customer experience (CX).

While technology plays an important role in improving the CX, it alone is not the answer. Creating satisfied customers boils down to people helping people and the need for timely and thorough communication with claims consumers.

Supervisors Should Focus on Time to First Contact

We recently analyzed Hi Marley’s customer operational and survey data to understand the impact of time to first contact on claims handling and the overall customer experience. Time to first contact is defined as the length of time it takes for the adjuster to contact/engage with the insured or claimant via text messaging after the customer opts into texting via Hi Marley.

Our analysis of 100 high caseload adjusters from across our carrier customers revealed that time to first contact offers solid insight into how well an adjuster will handle a claim and, ultimately, their impact on customer satisfaction and the claim outcome.

Adjusters who engage with customers quickly are more likely to provide timely service and excellent communication throughout the claims process, ultimately driving higher customer satisfaction. Conversely, lengthy times to first contact resulted in a higher propensity for sub-optimal communication and a trend toward poor responsiveness throughout the claim’s lifecycle, longer cycle times and lower customer satisfaction scores.

Time to first contact is a powerful metric to utilize as part of a healthy performance coaching approach. When measured and managed properly, it can positively impact consumers and claims operations.

Three Steps for Creating an Effective CX Improvement Plan

For claim supervisors, identifying customer service improvement needs is only half of the equation. Some of the most challenging aspects of the supervisory process are identifying, validating, documenting, implementing and managing the ongoing actions needed to remediate issues.

The success of CX improvement plans requires a thoughtful improvement approach and methodology; there are several components to an effective CX improvement plan which I’ve boiled down into three steps.

Step One – Conduct Enhancement Analysis 

Start by looking at the current state of your organization. In addition to time to first contact, surveys, conversational sentiment analysis, adjuster observation and open or closed claim file review results can help identify high-cost and high-frequency customer issues and opportunities for improvement.

For example, our recent study of 25,000 customer satisfaction surveys found that adjuster attitude and approach had the biggest impact on customer satisfaction, followed by timeliness of overall service, including fast response and prompt resolution. We also found that adjusters who consistently made timely first contact usually carried that sense of urgency, attention to detail, responsiveness and sensitivity to customer needs throughout the remainder of the claim lifecycle. So, supervisors who focus on time to first contact can also improve other factors that drive customer satisfaction.

Step Two – Outline Goals and Action Items 

Once supervisors identify critical customer experience issues, they should next classify the root causes of each. Ask questions like, are there systemic problems with processes or operations? Do the adjusters need skills development and training? Does knowledge need to be shared across the team more effectively? Are their performance and behavioral issues? How deep and wide are the problems?

Then, for each problem area, outline the desired outcomes, objectives and the steps your organization will take to mitigate them. Create new performance goals and assign owners to action items and deadlines to ensure accountability.

If you want to improve responsiveness, encourage your team to leverage text messaging from the beginning of a claim and set expectations for adjusters in the context of how to engage with customers. Setting expectations for time to first contact and the quality of first contact will lead to better habits and outcomes beyond just the initial contact. At the claims moment of truth, nothing can replace the support of an empathetic adjuster. When an adjuster is responsive, policyholders know they care, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

Step Three – Track Your Progress 

Once you’ve identified the root causes of issues, create CX improvement plan templates that include objectives, action steps, owners, timelines, testing protocols and measures of success. Determine the metrics you will track to determine your progress, such as time to first contact. Keep the momentum going and schedule time to share performance improvement feedback and updates with individuals, teams and the organization.

Benefits of a CX Improvement Plan

Successful CX improvement efforts start with the culture. Healthy cultures embody an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages curiosity, collaboration and continually seeks to identify the best practices that improve customer satisfaction and lead to fast, fair outcomes. Many Hi Marley customers have seen tremendous results with their CX initiatives.

Take Plymouth Rock, for example. Policyholders’ communication preferences were shifting and phone tag was draining the productivity of the 400-person claims department. To reduce friction with policyholders and improve efficiency, Plymouth Rock created a plan that involved adding more digital communication solutions to its customer support kit. By implementing Hi Marley’s text messaging platform, Plymouth Rock achieved measurable results, including decreasing inbound/outbound calls and voicemails by 35 percent, reducing fraudulent claims and improving time to resolution.

Ohio Mutual also implemented Hi Marley to enhance the claims experience for its customers. Claims associates reported increased efficiencies—100 fewer calls per person per month— and 93 percent of policyholders gave Ohio Mutual five-star ratings. “Once we began using Hi Marley, our Claims team had fewer voicemails to return, were able to move claims to resolution faster, and our customers were happier,” said John DeLucia, VP of Claims for Ohio Mutual.

Efficient communications, responsiveness and thoughtful interactions play a significant role in delivering an excellent customer experience and creating great claim outcomes for all involved. When properly implemented and managed, CX performance enhancement plans that incorporate time to, and quality of first contact, consistently drive measurable gains in individual and organizational knowledge, skills and behaviors and create additional process efficiency and effectiveness.


Read more in our white paper, Metrics that Matter: Unlocking the Value in “Time to First Contact.”

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