Since its beginning in the ancient days of China and Babylon, the insurance industry’s business model, along with its customer service practices, did not change drastically throughout its history. Because of its complex nature, the industry stuck to known methods and used a mixture of older approaches in running business rather than progress with fresh, new approaches.
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Then the internet arrived, and the way people and businesses interacted with each other changed forever — except for insurance.
Held back by the steady expectations of traditional insurance customers, the industry didn’t enter the digital age very quickly. But as time progresses, and the more traditional generations age, a different, tech-savvy target group of customers is putting the pressure on insurance brands to meet their customer service needs in the way they want. This means that insurance companies are finally on a gradual climb toward entering today’s world of omni-channel customer engagement.
After observing and studying the unique characteristics of millennials, insurance companies can take measures to enter their world. And as with any venture into a foreign land, insurance must learn this generation’s way of communicating. There are a few brands that have figured out the best ways to engage with today’s customer. What can other insurance brands learn from them?
Here are 11 tips for insurance companies looking to meet the needs of the modern customer:
11. Online account management
Young people today often prefer the anonymity of researching online for insurance that matches their way of life. To align with their preferences and expectations, insurance companies are implementing online account management as a primary source of contact with their customers. In fact, there are now several online-only insurance companies rising in the ranks because of their forward-thinking customer engagement mindset, providing easy-to-understand guidance and quick and easy procedures.
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Customers want to know that a brand values their time. Therefore, self-service should be offered to those visitors who don’t want to wait on hold or who want to simply go into their account and complete a task on their own. This mode of customer experience is especially effective on mobile devices, where a customer can have access to their account anytime or anywhere.
Touchtone and speech Interactive Voice Response (IVR) might have been “good enough” in the past, not anymore. (Photo: iStock)
9. Conversational Interactive Voice Response
New, conversational IVR systems improve the caller experience and reduce the time people spend on the phone by allowing people to simply say what they want in their own words to get them to the information they need, and by directing them to the right information from the start. Conversational IVR engages callers using intelligent conversation, such as: “Welcome back, Jim. Are you calling about the order you placed yesterday?”
8. Live chat
When it comes to the complex nature of insurance, there may come a time when the insurance customer encounters a question while self-serving. Fortunately, live chat marries well with self-service when a seamless transition is in place. Business rules can be set up to trigger a proactive invitation to chat when there are signs that the customer needs help. Not only will the customer receive instant contact with an agent who can assist them, but live chat is still in that mode of communication that modern customers prefer (online).
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7. Virtual assistance
The trend toward automated conversations reveals how customer expectations have evolved into the desire to remain tech savvy and independent yet with the personalization of a two-way conversation. Virtual assistants take the insurance customer through a self-serve experience by answering natural language questions for simple matters. Then, if the customer’s issue needs further assistance, the conversation can be seamlessly transitioned into a live chat engagement with a real person.