5 Pandemic-Driven Call Center Trends to Expect in 2022

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March 1st, 2022

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The pandemic radically altered typical business operations. While many industries struggled to maintain customer engagement, the insurance industry experienced a meteoric rise in customer service calls. Customer needs shifted with dizzying speed, and insureds expected their providers to keep pace. For example, people drove less following the pandemic onset, and individuals with leased vehicles noted a preference for usage-based coverage. Liabilities also changed when individuals began working from home.

Many insurance companies rely on a call center to field their customer service calls. The sudden influx of pandemic-driven inquiries highlighted the bottlenecks and pain points of pre-pandemic call centers. The following are several call center trends insurance companies need to know for the coming year:

  1. The geographic distribution of call centers is changing. Offshore call centers come with several hurdles, most notably language barriers and cultural differences impeding service quality. Two-thirds of call centers around the world are in the Americas, which underscores the importance of nearshore call centers.
  2. Difficult calls and escalations are on the rise. Customer needs changed too fast for most insurance companies to update policies on how to handle the sudden increase in customer calls. Escalations increased by 68%, and difficult calls rose by 50%. The information bottleneck tanked the customer experience, and many insurers responded by revamping their call center to meet customers’ changing needs.
  3. Customer expectations continue to rise. Customers’ increasing expectations from their insurance provider isn’t a new trend. Technology revolutionized customer service and changed what customers require from their insurers. However, achieving a satisfying experience means meeting key benchmarks for customer inquiries. For instance, high-performing call centers answer calls within 20 seconds and resolve the customer’s problem within four minutes.
  4. The customer’s first call has significant ramifications on their loyalty. Customers have lower thresholds than ever for frustration. They are likely under stress when they reach out to their insurance provider, and an unsatisfying outcome degrades their loyalty. Fifteen percent of customers consider switching to a competitor if they don’t receive a satisfactory answer to their problem, whereas only one percent make this consideration when the customer service representative resolves their issue on the first call.
  5. Customers will seek out competitors after a single negative experience. One bad interaction is all it takes to risk losing customers. For example, one-third of Americans consider switching companies if they receive poor customer service.

Insurance providers need a call center that provides consistent and superior service. The customer experience is a key factor for their ongoing loyalty. Contact Actec to learn how a nearshore call center can benefit your company.

Emerging Chat and Text Support Trends of 2022

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February 22nd, 2022

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The competition remains high in the insurance industry, and insurance companies need every edge they can get to maintaincustomer loyalty while attracting new clients. Advancements in technology drastically changed how customers engage with their insurers. Many expect omnichannel communication options, and failing to meet this expectation can lose their business. Customers have a notable preference for real-time communication, such as chat and text messaging customer support. Here are several trends that emphasize the importance of chat and text customer service:

  1. Over half of customers (around 60%) expect a rapid response to their customer support questions. When an insured initiates first notice of loss (FNOL) or needs an update about their claim, they don’t want to wait several hours or days for a response. They are experiencing a stressful event and view long wait times for a response as poor service. Text and chat FNOL services provide rapid answers and soothe concerns.
  2. Only about one-third of businesses think text and chat services are important to customers. There is a notable incongruity between what communication channels customers want and what businesses think their customers want. Insurance providers have a ripe opportunity to improve their service by meeting customers where they want to engage—via text or chat.
  3. Customers between the ages of 18 and 49 indicate live chat is their preferred customer service channel. Millennials are 20% more likely to use chat services than baby boomers, while over one-third of Gen Z prefer chat services. Gen Z particularly dislikes making phone calls for their service inquiries, and over half of them avoid calling customer support altogether.
  4. Chat services are the most satisfying communication channel for most customers. Nearly three-fourths of customers that use chat services for their customer support questions report a satisfying result. This percentage tanks to 51% for email communications and 44% for phone calls.
  5. Chat services are an effective lead generator. Potential customers are wary of providing their contact details. Some are concerned about security, while others don’t want to receive a barrage of marketing emails, phone calls, etc. However, when customers decide to provide their information, over 40% prefer to do so through chat. Insurance companies need a chat or text option for customer service to maximize their leads.

Implementing text and chat services is critical to meet customer expectations and retain their loyalty. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about the benefits of text and chat customer support.

5 Ways to Provide Service Above and Beyond Customer Expectations

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February 8th, 2022

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Today’s customers are more empowered and want more involvement when engaging with their service providers. Many prefer self-service options and want to find answers to their questions on their own. As a result, they have elevated expectations when they reach out to their insurance company for assistance. They’ve likely already tried to resolve the issue, and they don’t want a quick fix. Customers expect representatives to be knowledgeable and go the extra mile to resolve their complex problems.

Customer loyalty is fickle in the insurance industry, and a single negative interaction is enough to send them looking for a new provider. However, lackluster service isn’t likely to stimulate customer loyalty. The following are several ways to provide stellar customer service in a hyper-competitive environment:

  1. Engage with social media. Customers are more connected than ever and having a social media presence is a must. However, social media pages are ripe for gathering data and enhancing customer service. For example, companies can follow customers back to see what they’re talking about and gain insight into their customer base. Insurers should respond to all comments as well—the good and the bad—to build trust and show the customers that their provider cares about them. Social media also helps gather unfiltered customer feedback, which insurance companies can use to improve the customer experience.
  2. Seek feedback through multiple channels. Not all customers engage with companies in the same way. Some prefer to complete surveys through email, text, or phone, while others prefer to leave reviews online. Social media is another great way to gather feedback through interactive polls. Essentially, companies should seek feedback where their customers are congregating. They are much more likely to yield useful information for improving customer service.
  3. Respond quickly. Even if there is no immediate answer to a customer’s problem, insurance providers need to let their customers know they are working on a solution. Companies that reply quickly are way ahead in the customer service race than companies that leave their customers wondering if their insurer received their message.
  4. Surprise customers with thoughtful gestures. Monitoring social media channels is a great way to identify features customers want. Sending a tweet to a customer about a new service offering made based on their suggestion humanizes the organization and shows the company cares about their customers’ opinions. Gestures don’t have to be grand to have a positive effect, either. For example, insurance providers can send customers a gift card with a thoughtful message after experiencing a covered loss. Small gestures like this show the customer their insurance provider cares about the difficulties they’re facing during a stressful claims process.
  5. Use technology the right way. Trying to shoehorn a customer into an awkward technology funnel will fail to meet expectations every time. Technology should help customer service representatives provide the best possible service while meeting customers’ needs when and how they require it.

Implementing text and chat first notice of loss (FNOL) support is a great way to expedite the claims process and provide customers with a sense of agency during a stressful event. Customers can report accidents or other covered perils through their preferred communication channel, receive updates regarding their claims, or find answers to their coverage questions. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about the benefits of text and chat FNOL services.

Improving FNOL Processes with Technology Changes

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February 1st, 2022

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First notice of loss (FNOL) represents the single greatest opportunity insurance adjusters have to set the tone for customersatisfaction. If any missteps occur, it’s incredibly difficult to turn the customer’s opinion around after the fact. Streamlining the FNOL process is vital to ensuring a positive start to the claim, but implementing effective change can be a challenge. Insurers may not know where in the process the bottleneck occurs, but technology can help illuminate and resolve those issues.

Automating for Intelligent Claims Routing

Some of the issues with FNOL can occur dependent upon which adjuster receives the claim. While insurers take steps to ensure the claim goes to a qualified adjuster, it can be hard to know upfront who is best for the job. Fields of experience, workloads, and years on the job all affect which adjuster is best for the claim. An insurer may think that a seasoned adjuster is best for a complex claim, but this isn’t always the case if that adjuster is already overloaded with work or doesn’t have experience in that type of claim.

Most insurers don’t have the time to dig down into the nitty-gritty details, which often results in changing adjusters as the claim progresses. This irritates customers because they have to repeat their story, re-send documentation, and other redundancies that hurt their overall experience and confidence in their insurer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can prevent these repetitive tasks. AI can compare adjusters’ locations, availability, areas of expertise, and licenses to pinpoint the best adjuster for the claim without slowing down the claims process. Automating the claims assignment process saves managers time and reduces aggravations on the back end and front end alike.

Identifying key areas of slowdowns in the claims process can help expedite incoming claims, improve customer satisfaction, and boost an insurance company’s bottom line. The experts at Actec understand the frustrations insurers face when trying to overhaul their claims process. Contact us to learn how we can help streamline FNOL as well as improve your claims processes with our custom claims intake solutions.

4 Blunders Companies Make When Communicating With Customers

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January 25th, 2022

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Exceptional customer service is essential for an insurance company to succeed. Customers want to feel like a valued client rather than a file number, and they want rapid answers to their questions. They also place a premium on hassle-free claims. However, many insurance companies make several missteps when communicating with their customers. Miscommunications lead to frustration and a poor customer experience.

The following are some of the typical blunders insurance companies make when communicating with insureds:

  1. Chronic understaffing. Customers hate waiting on hold. They hate it even more when they have an urgent problem, such as a car accident or loss. It degrades customer loyalty to have consistently long wait times, as they feel undervalued. Call logs can provide actionable insight for staffing needs by determining when call volumes are highest.
  2. Limited communication options. It’s not always possible for an insured to call in a claim, and many prefer other communication channels altogether. For simple policy questions, some insureds would rather contact chat support. Others prefer email to maintain a record of communication. Customers expect to have several communication channels available to them, including phone, email, a mobile app, text, and chat support.
  3. Lack of adequate training. Customer service representatives need to be experts when it comes to the insurance products the company carries, how to answer questions about various policies, and how to navigate the claims process from FNOL to resolution. In addition to being knowledgeable, service representatives need soft skills, such as empathy and problem-solving.
  4. Not providing support 24/7. Accidents and losses don’t contain themselves to typical working hours. Insured need a way to establish first notice of loss (FNOL) wherever and whenever the incident occurs. If an insured can’t receive the help they need during a crisis, they’re likely to look for a new insurance provider. Insurance providers can meet this customer need by investing in a nearshore call center.

Nearshore call centers provide the benefits of an offshore service without the headaches. Nearshore service representatives are familiar with the customer’s culture and can respond with the appropriate empathy for the situation. Contact Actec to learn more about the benefits of a nearshore call center.

4 Traits Call Centers Need for Effective Crisis Communication

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December 21st, 2021

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Insurance providers need a call center that can handle all their incoming calls, particularly when it comes to emergencies. When insureds initiate first notice of loss (FNOL), they’ve often experienced a high-stress incident. From house fires to car accidents, insurance call centers need to have the skillset to navigate customer crises. Here are several characteristics of call centers that communicate effectively during a crisis:

  1. High call volume preparedness. Some crises affect a significant number of customers. For example, hurricanes can damage property and vehicles. Insureds may find themselves homeless while waiting on repairs. Call centers need to have the capacity to handle a sudden influx of calls, particularly for imminent covered perils.
  2. Crisis management experience. Not every industry needs call centers with experience handling emergencies. Insurance companies need a call center staffed with agents that understand how to perform FNOL intake during a crisis and how to respond appropriately to frantic customers. Similarly, agents need to be able to identify a true emergency. What seems critical to a customer may not require immediate action. In those instances, agents need to know how to diffuse the situation and help customers navigate the next steps of their claim.
  3. Strong emotional intelligence. During a crisis, call center agents need to be able to identify how the customer is feeling and respond with empathy. Customers will likely be upset or angry during a crisis, and call center agents need to know how to contain the situation without allowing their emotions to affect the level of service they provide.
  4. Insurance providers need a call center that can adapt to meet their needs. Increased call volumes during a crisis often require additional agents to field all the calls in a timely manner. Some call centers achieve this by having agents on-call or tapping into a work-from-home network.

Accidents happen, and it’s not always possible to predict when disaster will strike. Insurance companies need a call center that can handle critical situations whenever they arise. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our nearshore contact center services.

How to Overcome Chat Customer Service Challenges

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October 26th, 2021

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Customers expect businesses to offer several channels of communication, including through social media, email, phone calls, and chat support. Chat support is particularly effective in securing customer satisfaction and loyalty when done well. However, chat customer service has unique communication challenges that can damage the customer’s experience and perception of the company.

The following are the most common challenges that can trip up customer service agents while chatting with a customer:

Misunderstandings

Whether the customer doesn’t understand the message or the service rep fails to grasp the problem, misunderstandings can occur on both sides of the conversation. Agents should always ask for clarification rather than making assumptions about the situation. Agents that ask specific questions and use active listening techniques can get the conversation back on track.

Impersonal Interactions

Personalization plays a critical role in customer satisfaction, but it’s easy to lose in chat communication. Compounding the problem, customers can tell when an agent gives them a scripted answer to their inquiry. Using friendly greetings, referring to the customer by name, and engaging in the conversation all show the customer they are more than a ticket number.

Tone Issues

People rely on inflection, gestures, and facial expressions to interpret the tone of a conversation. Without these social cues, chat communication can come across as blunt, cold, or outright hostile. Establishing a company-wide tone for customer communication can help alleviate the issue. For example, a company that brands itself as energetic and friendly can use language to reflect that while chatting with customers.

Empathy and efficiency are critical for successful chat communication. Customers expect agents to be knowledgeable, friendly, and fast problem solvers. Effective chat customer service can meet all these needs. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about implementing chat services.

4 Proven Ways to Deliver an Excellent Customer Experience

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October 13th, 2021

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Positive customer experiences drive the success of all insurance companies. A recent survey from Microsoft found that the overwhelming majority (95%) of customers base their loyalty on the quality of service they receive. Other surveys report similar statistics across all industries, which underscore the importance of providing an excellent experience during every customer interaction.

With the pandemic keeping many people at home, customers are shopping online and reaching out to customer support more than ever. Whether they need help deciding on which product to purchase or need clarification on their policy, customer service representatives need to deliver the best service possible. Here are several methods customer service representatives can use to provide consistent, high-quality service:

  1. Know the products. Customers don’t often understand their policies or their coverage needs as well as they should. They need a knowledgeable agent to guide their purchasing decisions and clarify any questions they may have. Agents that recommend supplemental policies to prevent coverage gaps, bundles to help save the customer money, and tips that lower the customer’s insurance costs will be far more effective than agents that can only regurgitate a memorized script.
  2. Embrace creative problem-solving. Creative problem-solving is a much sought-after soft skill, and it requires looking beyond a quick fix. Customer service agents that thrive on finding solutions will advance customer loyalty much more than agents that focus on the customer’s policy limitations.
  3. Strive for positive communication. Customers often call their insurance providers after they experience a loss, and their emotions are running high. Agents that remain calm, friendly, and empathetic can help the customer deescalate to navigate the claim process. If a customer initiates communication through chat or text, customer service agents must remain aware that tone doesn’t always convey through these channels. Using friendly punctuation, humor, or emojis can imbue their words with warmth and compassion.
  4. Respond quickly, resolve thoroughly. Customers value their time, and they do not appreciate waiting on hold or navigating a convoluted phone tree before even broaching their problem. Agents need to respond as soon as a customer reaches out on all platforms, including calls, messages, and texts. However, customers don’t want agents to rush while resolving their problems. Respond promptly and investigate carefully to secure ongoing customer loyalty.

Customer service representatives are the first responders to customer inquiries. Insurance companies need a top-tier call center to deliver the quality of service the modern customer expects. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our nearshore call center solutions can improve the customer experience.

6 Reasons Why Customers Prefer Chat and Text Support

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September 28th, 2021

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Customers contact their insurance provider through a variety of channels; however, chat support is dominating the field. In the next year, experts project that chat support will increase by 87% across all sectors. Certain industries may see even higher growth as consumer demand rises. Consumers prefer to engage via chat and text over all other digital platforms, and insurance companies can’t afford to overlook these tools.

The single greatest reason customers prefer chat interactions over email, web portals, and other digital communication channels is the convenience. However, their interests and preferences are more nuanced than that. Here are several reasons why customers prefer chat and text support:

  1. Instant access. Chat and text support connects the customer with an agent immediately. The customer doesn’t need to navigate an app, a convoluted phone tree, or wait 24-48 hours for an email response.
  2. Short wait times. Nothing is more infuriating for a customer than finally getting through to an agent just to be put on hold. Customers have a low threshold for frustration, and chat and text support circumvent this by providing fast service.
  3. Historical data. Recording a call for quality assurance is great in theory, but it’s tedious in practice. Agents or managers have to listen to the call or rely on voice translators to find the information they need. With text and chat, the data is easy to find with a simple search.
  4. Fast resolutions. Customers usually contact customer service when they have a problem. They expect rapid solutions, which isn’t typically possible with other digital platforms like email or social media.
  5. Time considerate. Customers hate sitting on hold, as it takes up time they could use to complete other tasks. While chat and text wait times are much shorter than other communication channels, customers can have another browser window open or return to their work while waiting for a response.
  6. Immediate answers for policy- or claim-related questions. Waiting on hold or going through multiple transfers to receive answers to basic questions is frustrating. Customers want instantaneous answers when they have questions about their policy or want an update on their claim, which isn’t possible without chat or text communication channels.

Meeting customer needs and expectations is critical to securing their loyalty. Providing chat and text communication allows customers to engage with their insurance provider when and how they prefer. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about implementing chat and text communication channels.

5 Biggest Trends Transforming Call Centers

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March 23rd, 2021

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Most insurance companies that utilize call centers view it as the cost of doing business, but new trends are changing this perception. Modern call centers can do much more than provide a necessary service. They can engage with their customers in new ways to improve customer satisfaction. With customer expectations higher than ever, insurance providers need their call centers to deliver where it matters most.

The following call center trends are driving value and revenue:

  1. Prioritizing the customer experience. The customer’s experience affects their satisfaction with their provider, likelihood to purchase future products, and their continuing loyalty. While obtaining new business is important, retaining existing customers has a much greater effect on revenue.
  2. Making data-driven decisions. Insurers will struggle to improve customer satisfaction if they don’t know their pain points. Call centers gather a plethora of data that can help insurance providers identify customer preferences and trends. They can then harness that data to provide in-demand products, mitigate recurring problems, and tailor marketing efforts to meet customer expectations and desires.
  3. Personalizing every interaction. Customers expect call center employees to know who they are, what their existing coverage and policies are, and have access to previous calls they’ve made. Legacy systems can’t deliver this kind of experience, which forces the customer to repeat themselves every time they call. Without personalization, customers feel like a file number and that their insurer doesn’t care about them.
  4. Implementing omnichannel communication. Customers expect offline and digital options to communicate with their insurer. This goes beyond web portals or email. Today’s average customer is well-versed in technology, and they expect their insurance provider to keep pace. Insurance providers need a call center that can deliver exceptional service across all channels, including chat support, social media, and text.
  5. Bringing call centers closer to home. Offshore call centers appeal to many insurance companies because they’re comparatively inexpensive, and they can offer customer service around the clock. However, many insurers are realizing offshore call centers have hidden costs. Customers across the board have voiced complaints about the poor quality of service, as well as raised concerns about data security. Bringing call centers closer to home allows insurers to vet that new agents have the right skill set and experience for the job.

Meeting customer expectations is critical to retaining their business. Communicating with them when and how they want to, as well as providing superior service, can help achieve that goal. To learn more about enhancing your communication and call center services, contact the experts at Actec.