Younger Millennials and Zoomers loathe speaking on the phone. The stark shift in communication style from Gen X to Millennials to Gen Z even earned the latter the nickname “Generation Mute.” When polled about this, most millennials replied that speaking on the phone is too slow, too outdated, and unlikely to resolve their problem satisfactorily.
Millennials and Gen Z aren’t the only generations eschewing phone calls. Research shows that eight out of every ten adult Americans don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Surprisingly, although younger generations dislike phone calls more than preceding ones, they’re more likely to pick up calls from unknown numbers than older generations. Fortunately, two-thirds of American adults will check voicemails left by unidentified callers. However, insurance providers placing these calls are wasting time and failing to reach customers on their preferred communication platform.
The following are several statistics that highlight why business text messaging is a worthwhile investment:
- Texting is the top-ranked communication channel for Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.
- Text messages have a 98% open rate and up to a 45% response rate, whereas emails average around a 20% open rate and 10% response rate.
- Most people take 90 minutes to reply to an email, whereas it only takes them around 90 seconds to answer a text.
- 85% of people prefer messaging platforms, including texting, messaging apps, and social media messaging, over emails or phone calls.
- 74% of customers report that texting improves their opinion of businesses that engage them this way.
- 68% of customers prefer to message businesses than to use any other form of communication.
- Customer support tickets submitted via text increased by 28% between 2020 and 2021
First notice of loss (FNOL) sets the stage for the customer’s overall satisfaction with the claims process. Reporting a loss is often a distressing and stressful experience, and customers have an exceedingly low threshold for frustration during this period. Offering text and chat services allows customers to initiate FNOL quickly on their preferred communication channel. Contact Actec to learn more about implementing text and chat FNOL.
The modern consumer has much different wants and expectations than those of a decade ago. Technological leaps, shifting economic situations, and a reassessment of values are just a few of the primary factors driving these changes. Many service providers fall short and erode their customers’ trust. What’s worse is that many don’t realize it. Almost 80% of business executives believe their customers trust them, whereas barely more than half (52%) of consumers report the same.
Building trust is a multifaceted process that relies on the following:
- Compassion. Customers want to interact with a real person when they have a problem. Many customers use self-service tools before reaching out to customer support. They have likely already exhausted the limits of a knowledge base or AI chatbot. When they have a problem, they want the company to show it cares about finding the solution. They want to interact with an empathetic human, whether by text, messaging, or phone.
- Effectiveness and quality. Customers reasonably expect the products and services they purchase to perform as advertised. If they receive inefficient service or a substandard product, their trust fades. Similarly, they want the best value for their money. They’re more likely to look for a new provider if they feel their current one has unfair pricing for the quality of the product or service they receive.
- Consistency. Customers depend on their service providers to deliver a consistent experience with each interaction and purchase. Customers rapidly lose trust in businesses that fail to live up to their promises and guarantees.
- Transparency. Customers are leery of providing their personal contact information, such as their email or phone number. While some businesses use that information for legitimate business interactions, others spam customers with unwanted emails and texts. Companies should always outline why they’re collecting the customer’s data, how they’ll use it, and the customer’s options for opting in or out of these communications.
Omni-channel communication can drive customer trust in several ways. Traditional phone calls are more conducive to displaying compassion as tone does not convey over text. Communicating through text messages allows companies to provide customers with rapid updates about their inquiries, open support tickets, or claims. Chat services empower customers to find solutions to common questions without delay. Customers also frequently use social media channels, email, and website forms to engage with their service provider. Meeting their needs on the most conducive platform establishes a foundation of trust that is essential for long-term loyalty. Contact Actec to learn more about the benefits of implementing new communication channels.
Call center agents often have the first interaction with customers. They set the stage for the customer experience, and many customers form opinions about a company based on these interactions. Agents need the right skills to provide high-quality customer service. These include:
- Solid communication. Good communication skills may seem obvious. Agents spend the majority of their job interacting with customers over the phone, texts, messages, and many other channels. Empathy is essential for customer satisfaction. Agents that work with detached efficiency may resolve calls quickly, but they can come across as cold and unfeeling.
- Avoiding repetition. Customers hate repeating themselves. Take notes about their problem and read any documentation from previous calls. Customers feel like the agent is wasting their time, does not care about solving their problem, or lacks knowledge when they have to explain their issue more than once.
- Finding creative solutions. Not every problem is easy to solve or has a clear path to resolution. Call center agents that use their resources to find unexpected solutions for the customers’ issues provide a superior quality of service.
- Maintaining organization. Some calls require follow-up, such as an insurance claim. These cases can remain open for days or weeks. It’s easy to lose track of them without proper organization. For example, sticky notes or sporadic handwritten notes can go missing. Electronic records can become jumbled if they’re all stored in one place. Customer service software can often remove these administrative hurdles, but organization skills are still essential for call center agents fielding several dozen calls a day.
Customers are often upset or have a problem when they connect with a call center agent. Agents that provide empathetic service and remain flexible when finding solutions deliver a superior customer experience. Contact Actec to learn how our nearshore call center solutions can improve customer service and customer loyalty.
First response time (FRT) measures how much time passes between a customer initiating first notice of loss (FNOL) and an agent responding to it. Customers want to be able to reach their insurance provider whenever they need them. Losses rarely give customers the courtesy of occurring during regular business hours, and how quickly an insurance agent responds significantly affects the customer’s claim satisfaction.
FNOL, FRT, and Customer Loyalty
FNOL and FRT go hand-in-hand to keep customers happy. FNOL represents 25% of a customer’s overall satisfaction with their insurance provider. In addition, industry research shows that the claims experience influences 87% of customers’ loyalty, while almost 80% will switch providers if their insurers’ responsiveness falls short of their expectations. A short FRT is essential following FNOL to retain existing customers.
Text and Chat for Better FNOL and FRT
The FNOL experience affirms customers’ expectations for better or worse. If they have a positive experience, they feel secure in their choice of insurance provider. If the experience is poor, it may reinforce the customer’s belief that they need a new insurer. Customer’s top complaints regarding the claims process include:
- Too slow (25%)
- Too difficult (22%)
- Too much paperwork (22%)
Text and chat services can address many of these pain points. Text messaging rapidly decreases FRT, as agents can respond within minutes of receiving a claim notification. Agents can also pull existing data from the customer’s file to partially complete the data-gathering process. Filling in known information can also reduce friction during the interaction. For example, the make and model of the customer’s car are already in the system. Customers are often already agitated when initiating FNOL and asking them for information they provided well before the loss will only increase their frustration.
Agents that communicate with customers through text messaging can also close their claims faster. Customers always appreciate an expedited claims process, but it can also net cost savings for the insurer. For example, customers need rental cars while waiting for repairs on their vehicles. Insurance carriers often cover the rentals costs, and closing the claim several days faster curtails that expense. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how text and chat services can improve your customers’ claims experience.
Personalization is a critical part of delivering a high-quality customer experience in the insurance industry. However, tailored experiences require customers to share their data with their insurance provider, something many may hesitate to do. Insurance providers need to understand the four primary attitudes about sharing data before they can take steps to convince customers to give out personal information.
- Unaware access granters. These customers don’t fully understand how companies use their data. They often click accept without reading the terms, and many don’t realize what they agreed to share. They may have apps that have access to their photos, their apps, or location without realizing how much they’re sharing. They often have strong and harsh reactions when they discover how much data they unknowingly provided.
- Begrudging acceptance. A significant portion of customers know how much access they’re granting when they accept terms of service, cookies, and so on, but they are not happy about it. They consider it the cost of doing business or a necessity to receive the services they require. Pushing these customers to share more can backfire quickly, as they are already on the fence about it.
- Cautious and wary. Customers who seem overly cautious when companies ask them to share data likely had negative experiences or had their trust betrayed in the past. They often require evidence as to why the company wants their data, how the company will use their data, and how the company will protect their private information. Making this information difficult to locate or understand will immediately set these customers on their guard or send them looking for a more transparent provider.
- Incognito anonymity. These individuals do not want companies to know more information about them than is absolutely necessary. Even then, that information is often misleading. They view data gathering as an unnecessary hassle. They employ several tactics to protect their data. Examples include browsing online while in incognito mode on Google Chrome, using P.O. boxes for package deliveries to maximize privacy, or setting up a second email account to capture all the spam emails they assume will follow. Convincing this group to share data requires careful trust building, pristine transparency, and a friction-free customer experience.
Identifying which group customers fall into can be challenging early in the data gathering process. Thankfully, insurance providers can avoid major missteps with all customers by following a few guidelines. To start, explicitly explain what data they collect, how they use it, and how it benefits the customer. Make the information easy to find and use easy-to-understand language. Avoid asking customers for a lot of information too quickly, acknowledge their concerns about the sensitive nature of their data, and explain the security in place to protect their privacy.
Customer service in the insurance industry is often high stakes. Many customers only contact their insurance provider following a loss and will look for a new provider after a single negative experience. Text and chat services give customs the immediate access they need during stressful times. Agents also have an opportunity to establish a rapport and build the trust many customers require before they’ll share their data. Contact Actec to learn more about implementing text and chat services.
Businesses are struggling more than ever to foster customer loyalty. Today’s customers are more likely to look for new vendors or providers following a poor experience with the company. Customers have a low threshold for frustration, and service issues such as long hold times, agents lacking knowledgeability, or unresolved problems are more than enough to erode their faith in the organization.
While numerous factors contribute to the customer experience, two play the most prominent roles: personalization and convenience. Customers expect a personalized experience. Personalization has become essential for businesses to thrive, as 86% of customers report that personalization influences their buying habits and 25% indicate that personalization plays a critical role in driving their purchases.
Convenience is just as crucial. Customers no longer limit their comparisons to industry competitors. Businesses must now compete against tech and ecommerce giants like Apple and Amazon. These organizations set a standard of service delivery that customers expect from all the companies they do business with.
Text message communication combines personalization with convenience. Text message communication channels can improve the customer experience in several ways:
- Builds trust with helpful engagement. Customers have little patience when waiting for an update on their inquiry or claim. Many businesses email their customers with regular updates, but this assumes the customer has internet access to check their inbox regularly. SMS text messaging provides updates in real-time, isn’t reliant on Wi-Fi, and removes the inconvenient necessity of constantly opening their email.
- Quickly resolves inquiries and problems. Customers expect rapid answers and solutions when they reach out to customer service. Texting is a convenient way to seek updates or request information, as customers can engage with their provider whenever and wherever they are. Texting also doesn’t tether the customer to their phone or computer while they wait on hold or in a queue.
- Improves service efficiency. Customers loathe repeating their information or inquiry. It makes the customer feel like the company doesn’t care about their problem or that they are just one file number among many. Text messages retain previous conversations so any agent can help resolve the problem, regardless of their familiarity with the situation.
- Builds an emotional connection. Text message communication is often more casual and informal than email or phone calls. Agents can establish a rapport during these conversations while providing rapid customer service.
Customers have a growing preference for text message communication. Businesses that meet their customers on their preferred communication channels have an excellent opportunity to foster customer loyalty and deliver superior service. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about implementing text messaging services.
Call center metrics can reveal the overall health of a call center and determine its likelihood of success. Analyzing metrics and implementing data-based changes allows a call center to continually improve its processes and the service it provides to customers. The following metrics characterize top-performing call centers:
- Average handle time (AHT). AHT encompasses the total time of a customer phone call and often plays a critical role in customer satisfaction. Shorter calls tend to indicate better service, as the agent is rapidly resolving customer problems. In contrast, ineffective call centers often have a high AHT due to lack of training, knowledge, or efficiency.
- First call resolution (FCR). Call centers that answer customer questions or find solutions to customer problems on the first call typically have a high FCR. FCR is essential for customer satisfaction, as frequent transfers or escalations frustrate customers and erode their loyalty.
- Average speed of answer (ASA). ASA measures how long it takes for a customer to reach an agent after connecting with the call center. Much like AHT and FCR, ASA directly affects customer satisfaction. If a customer has to navigate a convoluted phone tree or has to wait a long time to speak with a person, they’ll likely be agitated by the time they reach an agent.
- Average resolution time (AST). Similar to AHT, this metric focuses on how long it takes agents to resolve customers’ inquiries. Customers expect agents to be knowledgeable enough to answer their questions or find a solution without delay. If the agent has to place them on hold several times or for long durations, the customer loses faith in the agent’s ability to help them. If they have to wait for too long, they may abandon the call altogether.
- Customer effort score (CES). CES measures how much effort it took to contact the company and the ease or difficulty of reaching a customer service agent. Customers don’t want to hunt for contact information, and they don’t want to jump through several hoops to reach a customer service representative. CES also measures how much effort it took for the customer to receive an answer or solution to their problem.
All these metrics influence customer satisfaction and are pivotal to securing customer loyalty. Organizations that analyze their call center data can harness that information to improve processes, service capabilities, and the customer experience. Contact Actec to learn how a nearshore call center can elevate your company’s customer service.
Companies want to deliver a memorable experience anytime their customers engage with them. However, call center errors can create a lasting negative impression instead of engendering loyalty. The customer experience is a significant differentiator, and businesses can’t afford to lose clients due to an unsatisfactory call center interaction. Among Gen Z clients, research indicates that 54% stop doing business with a company after a bad experience.
The following are several reasons a call center may leave customers unsatisfied:
- Long holds. When a call center agent asks a customer if they can place them on hold, the customer’s expectations immediately decline. The request means the call will likely last longer than the customer anticipated. Consider keeping the customer on the line while resolving their issue for simple requests and concerns.
- Longer wait queues. Customers also hate waiting to wait. Hearing their spot in line repeat at various intervals can be infuriating, and they’ll already be on edge by the time an agent connects to their call. An additional request to put them on hold can permanently damage their loyalty, no matter how knowledgeable the agent is. Providing a call-back service that holds their place in line can ease the irritation, as the customer isn’t tethered to their phone. If long queues and wait times are frequent issues, it may be time to hire more call center employees.
- Directing the customer to the company website while on hold. Today’s customers are more empowered than ever. Most research the problem before contacting customer service. Prerecorded wait messages directing the customer to the company website for faster service rarely produce a positive customer response. They’ve likely already tried the website, or they may have a unique issue not covered in the help documentation. The directive comes across as pushy and increases the customer’s frustration the more often they hear while waiting on hold.
- Wasted time on redundant questions. The last thing a customer wants to do after waiting on hold is to repeat the information they already provided. If they had to enter their customer ID, birthdate, or account number before connecting with an agent, don’t make them provide that information again. It exposes inefficiencies, and customers perceive it as the agent wasting their time. Consider upgrading call center software so customer data moves with them if the agent needs to transfer the call.
Actec understands that businesses need call centers that drive customer loyalty. Having a competent call center is even more important during the claims cycle. Customers have little patience, and their stress is at an all-time high when reporting a loss or filing a claim. Our nearshore contact center teams handle claim intake efficiently and deliver a superior customer experience. Contact us to learn how a nearshore contact center can transform the customer experience.
Substantial upfront costs and underwriting knowledge insulated the insurance industry from disruptors for some time. However, startups shifted their focus to other areas of insurance, such as policy distribution, marketing, and merchandising. These companies worked hand-in-hand with established insurance carriers and are harnessing their newfound knowledge to alter the status quo in insurance. Examples of some of the biggest disruptions include:
- Flexible coverage. Disruptors offer their customers short-term coverage that can flex depending on their needs. For example, customers that don’t drive very often don’t need as much coverage as the average driver. However, they often overpay for standard policies that carry coverage they don’t need. Rising competitors offer by-the-mile coverage to insure individual trips and allow customers to see the cost of insuring each trip before they depart.
- Policy comparisons. Many customers struggle to compare coverage options between individual products. Comparing policies from one company against another is even more challenging, as they don’t always use the same language or formatting. Comparison websites equipped customers with a powerful tool to easily compare policies and quickly identify the least expensive providers.
- Connected devices. Customers expect personalized experiences from their insurance providers, and connected devices neatly meet that necessity. Sensors can detect and alert homeowners of water leaks and fires to prevent large-scale damage. Satellite imagery can monitor the home for changes and identify suspicious activities to prevent break-ins and thefts. The companies also offer their customers discounts for preventing costly claims.
- Digital experiences from start to finish. Few customers enjoy the idea of communicating with their insurance provider. Many dread the long wait times, multiple transfers, and protracted claims cycle that plague low-tech insurance carriers. Disruptors are digitizing the entire customer lifecycle, from researching and purchasing insurance products to initiating and resolving claims. Some examples include providing simple coverage comparisons, rapid policy quotes, multiple payment methods to suit customers’ comfort levels, and omnichannel communication.
Regardless of how an insurance provider chooses to address the challenges of emerging innovators, solid communication is the cornerstone for success. Contact Actec to learn more about implementing new communication channels for FNOL to improve the customer experience.
Call center agents are the frontline brand ambassadors for businesses. They’re often the first person a customer speaks to when they call with a question or problem, and that interaction shapes the customer’s perception of the company. Call center agents can do much more than field incoming calls. With the right tools, they can drive loyalty, enhance a company’s brand and reputation, and generate revenue.
The following are four ways call centers can redefine the agent’s role and empower them to grow the company’s brand:
- Making an impression. Call center agents are often an untapped resource for advocating the company’s brand. Well-informed agents can leave customers with a lasting positive impression of the company. Providing agents with easy-to-find and -digest content that is relevant to customer requests is critical for agent knowledgeability, quality of knowledge, and service effectiveness.
- Transforming customer perceptions. Many customers reach out to call centers after performing their own search for answers. They view agents as a quick fix and don’t have a high level of trust in agents’ capabilities. Call centers cultivated that perception over the years by relying on canned responses and rigid transcripts. Agents can transform this viewpoint by personalizing customer interactions. For example, agents can engage with customers on their preferred communication channel (i.e., text, chat, phone call, or email), reference previous interactions with the customer, or make a personal remark based on data records (e.g., wishing the customer a happy birthday or thanking military service members for their service).
- Harnessing data to make smart upsells. Many eCommerce websites feature a carousel with recommended products or frequently purchased with products. In service-based industries, customers don’t always know what products and services complement their existing purchases. Agents can reference historical customer data to make relevant upsell recommendations, increase revenue, and drive value.
- Acting as the voice of the customer. Call center agents know a company’s customers better than anyone else in the organization. They listen to their difficulties, work with them to solve their problems, and engage with them at a personal level. While customer data is invaluable, agents have insights into the customers’ emotions, preferences, and more. Businesses that encourage agents to share their knowledge can implement changes that improve the customer experience and perception of the company.
Call center agents are the first point of contact for many customers. Providing them with advanced training and technology hones their skills and elevates their service quality. Over time, a successful call center can transform the customer perception of agents from a band-aid solution to a trusted advisor. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about the benefits of an empathetic and high-tech call center.