The past several years have seen massive shifts in customer expectations, and the customer experience is more critical than ever. Recent reports underscore this fact, as three-quarters of customers list stellar service as a key factor in securing their loyalty. However, providing superior service in 2021 differs vastly from previous years.
Customer service expectations are always evolving, and companies need to know what their customers care about most. Here are the customer service trends defining 2021:
- Customer service is synonymous with the brand. In the wake of the pandemic, customers interact less with businesses in person. Most of their communication occurs online or over the phone, and call center agents are experiencing a massive uptick in support tickets. Online shopping is also driving this trend. Without face-to-face interactions, customers engage with a brand almost exclusively through its customer service representatives.
- Customers are reexamining companies’ values. The pandemic forced people indoors and gave them ample time to reflect on what matters most to them. Customers are extending this thought process to businesses and are taking a hard look at company values. Customers want to buy from companies that prioritize social responsibility, diversity, and empathy. It’s no longer enough to provide the fastest service or the greatest convenience. Companies need to prioritize these values to earn a customer’s business and loyalty.
- Transparency and data security. Half of a brand’s customers will leave after a bad experience, but it’s not always an unhelpful agent or issues with an order that drives them away. How a company collects customer data and what they do with it matters more to customers across the board. One survey found that 71% of customers would drop a brand if it disclosed their data to other entities with express permission. Companies must perform the sensitive balancing act of personalizing the customer experience without encroaching on their privacy. Transparency about data collection, use, and distribution is critical to earning a customer’s trust.
- A demand for messaging. Many customers contacted a business via message for the first time as the pandemic forced them indoors. Most of those individuals plan to continue messaging businesses. However, messaging is a broad term that encompasses many platforms, and customers want to engage on their preferred communication channel. Tickets across all messaging channels leaped in 2020, including text, live chat, social media, online forms, and email.
Companies need to engage with customers where they are, and this means adopting omnichannel communications. Your business risks losing its customer base if you’re lacking messaging channels like chat and live text. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our messaging solutions.
It costs insurance providers a lot more money to obtain new customers than it does to retain existing ones. That’s why improving customer satisfaction is an ongoing process for most insurance companies. However, customers aren’t going to care about great rates if their experience filing a claim is a disastrous one. When the claims process is more arduous than the event that triggered the claim in the first place, insurance providers will quickly discover they have a retention problem on their hands.
Whether a policyholder is calling to report the damage to their home, their vehicle, or some other covered item, first notice of loss (FNOL) represents the single greatest opportunity to influence customer satisfaction. Insurers that manage the stress of the claim right from the start can help customers feel at ease. Any claim that has a rocky start is unlikely to improve in the eyes of the customer so insurance providers need to make FNOL count.
How to Help Put Customers at Ease During FNOL
Customers filing a claim are likely to be in a turbulent frame of mind. Insurance representatives can help put customers at ease in the following ways:
- Be empathetic to the customer’s situation
- Answer all questions that customer may have
- Provide a clear picture of the claims process
- Be direct in how long the claim should take from FNOL to settlement
- Provide information on the next steps to simplify the claims process for the customer
If an insurance company fails to put a customer’s mind at ease about the outcome of the claim, they’re unlikely to secure that customer’s loyalty.
One of the most challenging aspects is getting a handle on empathy. It’s easy to offer condolences following FNOL, but that does nothing to ease the situation for the customer. Reacting to the reality of poor customer satisfaction following claims, many insurers are overhauling their approach to FNOL. Some examples include helping arrange estimates or coordinating with contractors on the insured’s behalf.
Building loyalty is challenging in the insurance industry and FNOL is the key to getting started. Helping the insured customer feel secure throughout the claim process starts when they first report the loss. To learn more about improving your claims process, contact the experts at Actec.
Individuals selecting their insurance providers tend to be choosy because they know they can afford to be. With so many providers on the market, these people have endless options to research and snaring them relies on a combination of offering products and features they want at a competitive price. However, maintaining their loyalty is a challenge as well. Focusing on maximizing the customer experience whenever they call to file a claim or seek more information about their coverage can go a long way to retaining existing clients.
Not only that, but it costs significantly more money to obtain a new customer than it does to keep existing clients happy. As such, it behooves insurers to put time and effort into boosting customer service. When customers are happy with how their provider does business, they’re more likely to stay with that company even when their insurance needs change.
The following are some of the more effective means of improving the customers’ experience while interacting with their insurance provider:
- Keep it simple. When customers have to go through several phone trees or navigate down numerous website menus, they’re going to become frustrated fast. Building websites so that they’re customer-centric can cut down on confusion and keep their business.
- Remove unnecessary steps. While some customers may want to browse or compare their options, some know upfront what they want. Offering a direct option for these individuals to receive quotes or purchase coverage removes unnecessary hassles and keeps those clients satisfied.
- Open up additional communication options. Sometimes, customers have basic questions about their policies or coverage that would be much simpler to answer via a chat or text system. This is also beneficial during periods of crisis when customers need to produce documents following an incident.
- Allow for customization. Every customer’s insurance needs will be different and a one-size-fits-all policy isn’t going to work well. For example, customers that own vintage cars may not need full coverage during the winter months if they put them away in storage. Allowing for flexible coverage that shifts with their needs provides value and instills customer loyalty.
From digitization to ease of use, insurers can take several steps to overhaul their approach to customer service. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving customer satisfaction through effective claims management, first notice of loss, and more.
If an insurance provider’s claim cycle is out of touch with modern expectations, they will struggle to keep up with their more tech-savvy competitors. Optimizing the claim cycle can boost customer satisfaction as well as improve their loyalty. Insurers looking to improve their claims cycle as a means to boost customer retention should focus on the following areas:
- Be proactive. Accidents happen and claims follow suit, but insurance providers can take steps to avoid costly, time-consuming claims. This means running risk profiles on clients to identify who is most likely to report a loss. Instead of waiting for a high-risk client to submit a claim, insurers can take steps to help them reduce their risks.
- Make the process customer-centric. Insurance companies used to make business decisions that met their own preferences first before considering their customers’ outlooks. This was often the case because operations could flow more smoothly with convenient structuring. However, what is helpful for the insurer may impede the customer. Insurance providers that wish to remain relevant need to take steps to provide personalized, transparent, and rapid services that make the process easier for customers.
- Provide swift responses. Identifying threats and opportunities early allows insurance providers to develop a rapid response plan. Anticipating customer’s needs and concerns can keep business operations flowing smoothly. For example, younger generations rely heavily on social media and online reviews of companies and their services. By using smart software or artificial intelligence, insurers can monitor social media posts that mention them in both a positive and negative light. This gives them the opportunity to engage to prove their superior service skills.
- Go digital. Mobile apps for insurance providers aren’t a new concept, but some insurers are taking technological advancements to the next level to give them an edge. Connected devices, data analytics, and the Internet of Things are transforming how the industry operates. The data gives insurance companies actionable insights to improve the customer experience as well as detect fraud sooner.
Customer expectations are ever increasing and insurers need to be ready to meet them or risk heightened customer turnover rates. If your existing claims process is struggling to keep up with customer demands, Actec can help. Contact us to learn more about our claims management solutions.
The digitization of the claims process isn’t a new concept. Any insurer hoping to remain relevant knows they need to adapt and implement changes to keep up with customer expectations. Offering a mobile app is a good start, but transformative companies are revolutionizing the insurance landscape beyond this basic measure.
New insurers emerging from the FinTech sector harness the power of artificial intelligence alongside chatbots to eliminate brokers altogether. While this may seem like a radical business model, the processes of buying insurance and filing claims with these companies are simple and easy—a major lure to customers that are tired of confusing, frustrating traditional methods of filing a claim.
Implementing a Successful Digital Transformation
Insurance companies that want to keep pace with new-age providers need to address three areas to see the greatest results:
- Customer experience
With happier customers, less expensive claims processes, and more accurate management of claims, insurers can guarantee their place in the industry. To achieve those goals, they will need to make the following changes:
- Offer a digital method for first notice of loss (FNOL)
- Automate claims management to expedite the claim
- Accelerate loss assessments and repairs through digital means such as photos, videos, and geo-locators to find local repair facilities
- Automate settlements to reduce customer frustration and unnecessary delays in receiving funds
Another way insurers can lean on technology is to try to prevent claims before they occur. Claims prevention is nothing new, but sending out useful information via digital means can help ensure the information reaches the customer in a timely manner. This also allows for active participation with customers through online portals and chats.
Before making any significant changes, insurers need to consider them from the customer’s perspective. If the change doesn’t offer a noticeable improvement on the front end, it won’t likely yield an increase in customer satisfaction. Insurers should focus their efforts on optimizing back-end processes to improve services for customers instead.
Technology has transformed the way insurance companies do business and what customers expect of their provider. Failing to keep pace with these things can lead to retention problems with existing customers as well as hinder acquisition efforts for new customers. To learn more about improving FNOL, claims management, and more, contact the experts at Actec.
Insurance customer service representatives have to familiarize themselves with the entire claim cycle from first notice of loss to claims resolution. However, knowing the ins and outs of the industry doesn’t mean an agent will automatically do well at his or her job. Insurance representatives need to possess a number of soft skills to succeed. Some of the more desirable soft skills include:
- Internal communication and teamwork. Representatives need to be able to communicate effectively with internal staff as well including coworkers and management. This allows them to express needs or challenges that are preventing customers from receiving the best possible care. In addition, good communication skills means being a good listener as well to fully understand the customers’ needs. Similarly, teamwork is vital for successful customer service. When representatives work together, they can find creative solutions for common problems as well as develop strategies that play to each other’s strengths.
- Conflict resolution. Customers approach insurance representatives with a multitude of problems. Many situations require creative solutions so insurance representatives need to be able to think outside of the box to solve their issues. If representatives are unable to provide a workable solution, they need to let the customer know they will reach out to management and get back to them.
- Efficient empathy. Customers calling in with a problem aren’t looking to hear similar stories. Trying to associate with customers by sharing a personal related anecdote is unnecessary and takes up valuable time. Representatives should be empathetic, but a simple “I know how you feel” will suffice.
- Remaining calm. Customers usually call their insurance provider when they need to make a claim. This means they are likely upset and will require delicate handling. Representatives need to remember the customer isn’t angry with them personally. Staying positive and optimistic can help the customer calm down and bring about a better experience for both parties.
No amount of skill can overcome a limited claims management system. If your claims processing is slow or irritating customers, Actec can help. Contact us to learn how we can help transform your claims handling processes.
Insurance agents influence claims during every step of the claim cycle. This gives them the unique opportunity to ensure the customer is experiencing the best service possible during a challenging period in their life. When a customer calls to report a claim, they are likely stressed and in need of compassion. The following are several ways insurance agents can help customers navigate the claims process:
- Follow up throughout the entire claim. Even if there is no new information, customers want to hear about the progress of their claim. Many customers feel uncomfortable or like they’re being pushy if they call to ask for an update. They appreciate when insurance agents keep them in the loop, which improves customer loyalty and the claims experience.
- Be a point of contact. Insurance claims pass through several hands during the claims process. More than one adjuster may be involved, the claim may go through multiple insurance providers depending on the situation, and scheduling damage assessment on top of all of that can make a customer’s head spin. Let the customer know they can always reach out to you to find out where they are in the claim and what the next step to take is.
- Make sure they understand their coverage. Just because a customer purchased his or her insurance policy doesn’t mean he or she understands everything about it. Customers may have known the minutia of their policies when they first bought them, but they’re likely to forget over time. Insurance agents should explain their customers’ coverage in general terms until they have all the facts about the claim.
- Listen to complaints. It is near impossible to complete a claim without some sort of snag or delay. More often than not, frustrated clients just want a sympathetic ear and an apology. Most complaints don’t require more than that and can boost customer retention.
- Encourage prompt action. Claim delays are one of the biggest sources of frustration for customers. However, they are often the cause of the delay themselves. Pointing this out to them won’t earn any favors, but insurance adjusters can encourage them to respond to requests for documents as fast as possible. This can help keep the claim on track and improve their overall experience.
Most customers want and need someone to hold their hand through the claims process. Insurance agents who provide guidance and compassion can enhance the claims process, improve customer satisfaction, and boost customer retention. To learn more about improving the claims process, contact the experts at Actec.