Attention agencies and brokerages: You are on notice.
Within the next two to four years, customers want the insurance space to catch up to the current marketplace and offer click-to-chat or click-to-call through smartphones and tablets, as well as e-signatures, PDF capabilities and comprehensive portals, according to a recent Market Insight Group report, sponsored by Applied Systems.
The report, “Adaptability: The insurance customer experience imperative in an online digital mobile society,” is based on a survey of 1,200 Applied System North American and U.K. agency/broker owners and customer service reps. From that data, the software provider says that in order for agencies and brokerages to increase the quality of customer experience, they must be more accessible, more responsive and more personal with customers.
Four factors drive customer expectations, the report says: a shift in location of commerce from place to space; an expanding set of online information, search engines and review sites; continual growth of the number of mobile and smart devices; and continual proliferation of social media (click charts to enlarge).
There are four phases of known and potential customer interaction options:
Phase 3 is rapidly becoming the “new normal” of online digital communication, and to successfully compete, agencies need to acquire social media, digital brand marketing and content management skills to lure prospective customers and keep them engaged. Each phase augments, rather than replaces, the previous phase.
“If you think of Amazon, they are constantly reaching out to you, seeking feedback, making recommendations,” says Kris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience at Applied Systems. “These digital firms have learned over time and have shown what it means to engage with the consumer and drive a conversation. We think that the independent agencies need to be cognizant of that and be ready to engage with their customers and prospects in ways they expect.”
The report recommends six steps to support the customer experience:
How well do agencies meet customer experience expectations?
Across the board, survey respondents overwhelmingly say that increasing client retention is the main reason to strengthen customer experience. Other factors that drive an improved customer experience are increased cross-selling, client expectations, competition and internal plans.
However, three barriers prevent agencies from providing a stronger customer experience: time, staff and money.