A Balanced Approach to Improving Insurance Customer Experiences
Tips for finding the intersection where tech meets the human touch to elate current and potential policyholders.
By Mark Snyder
“In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.” This quote from Minouche Shafik, the Director of the London School of Economics, holds even more truth in a post-COVID world where people have spent the last 18 months reevaluating their entire lives.
Many have decided to forgo their hour commute simply because it’s not worth it. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers to seek more fulfilling careers. Many have reprioritized how they spend time with family, friends, coworkers, and even the brands and organizations they interact and do business with. And yes, that includes their insurance providers.
Even before the pandemic, companies like Lemonade and Hippo were already reinventing customer experience in the industry. Now, traditional carriers are playing catch up because there is simply no longer a place for poor customer experience in insurance (or the world, for that matter).
So, after decades of bad reputation and customer churn as the norm, what can insurance companies do to finally be perceived as a trusted partner and build true, lasting relationships with their policyholders? The answer lies in striking a balance between people and technology.
Technology alone is not the answer
Insurance companies often invest in the latest and greatest technology in their quest for digital transformation and improved experiences. While technology certainly plays an important role in improving customer experience, technology alone does not create the genuine connections that policyholders demand.
Technology might be a vehicle to solve problems faster and better (e.g. helping adjusters and supervisors understand customer sentiment or how to best respond to issues, removing nonvalue added bottlenecks that create adjuster and supervisor stress, etc.) — but technology itself does not create empathy or solve problems — people do.
Empowering your people to provide good CX
No matter how much technology advances or how data driven the industry becomes, good customer experience in insurance will always boil down to people helping people. Again, people have the power of empathy and machines do not.
All too often, adjusters and their supervisors forget that the policyholder making a claim has just had a horrible day. People are rarely contacting their insurance companies with good news. They are often stressed out, flustered, frustrated. While their story might sound like 50 others that day, insurance organizations cannot afford to treat them as just another claim. One bad interaction can make or break an entire customer relationship. In fact, almost 40% of people consider switching insurers after a claim.
Above anything else, insurance organizations must train and empower their employees to communicate effectively, ask the right questions, properly set expectations, be upfront when things don’t go as planned, and most importantly show empathy. More often than not, a bad experience can be attributed to poor communication and a lack of empathy during a stressful situation. Only once that human-centric foundation is set can insurance organizations truly take advantage of technology to bring the customer experience to the next level.
Combining the human element with technology
The providers that stand out in this post-COVID world will be the ones that amplify their human workforce with technology that removes the customer experience bottlenecks of the past. That could mean anything from communicating via text to speed up the claims process to leveraging natural language processing to analyze millions of claims communications, to using analytics to predict when a policyholder is upset so there’s an opportunity to course correct before they switch providers.
Just remember: The true connection that policyholders now crave is brought on by the human element, and an investment in technology could mean absolutely nothing without it.
Mark Snyder is a claims subject matter expert at Hi Marley, an intelligent communication platform for the insurance industry. He is a trusted P&C claims advisor with several decades of industry experience, including prior leadership positions at Ohio Casualty, Liberty Mutual, Athenium Analytics and Aon Inpoint.
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