Insurance organizations today face many challenges, from figuring out how to reduce policyholder churn, to keeping up with the ever-changing expectations of agents and customers alike. One area that organizations can focus on to address these common challenges is improving customer engagement.
Customer engagement covers every touchpoint you have with policyholders – from initial communications, through payments and customer service. Customer engagement is a key factor in determining the overall policyholder experience, which can ultimately make or break your organization in terms of customer churn.
Before we talk about how to go about improving customer engagement, however, it’s important to understand some key trends that are impacting how customers prefer to engage with your organization.
3 Key Customer Trends for Insurance Organizations
The Growth of Digital and Self-Service
No organization or industry is immune to the impact that digital channels have had on consumer preferences. The shift to digital is evident everywhere, from online ordering from restaurants and grocery stores, to the growth of mobile and self-service payment methods. When it comes to interacting with your organization, customers expect to easily make payments online or on a mobile device.
As the current climate forces increased focus on remote, contact-free services, customers who previously did not use digital channels are beginning to do so. In fact, 2/3 of Americans say they are “more inclined to try new digital offerings now than before.” Beyond that, 90% of insureds prefer digital or remote interactions with their insurance provider over face-to-face meetings.
As a result of the growth in digital channels, customers expect to be able to self-serve across every industry. Your organization’s self-service capabilities are being measured against technology companies and retailers, rather than your fellow insurance providers.
The most impactful way to drive results for an insurance organization is to get more customers to self-serve. Increased self-service means fewer customer service calls, as well as higher customer satisfaction rates. Over time, this will help decrease policyholder churn as well.
Optimizing channels for mobile is no longer optional. More than half of consumers make mobile payment transactions from their smartphones every year. This means your organization should design every engagement point with a mobile-first mindset. What does this look like? It’s about removing obstacles like login screens, assessing layouts, and making sure the experience is as simple and streamlined as possible.
The Importance of Real-time and Automation
Since many insurance companies grow over time through acquisition, there are industry-wide challenges when it comes to reconciling reports between disparate software systems. This reconciliation process requires a lot of manual work on the part of your staff, taking time away from higher priority projects. To ease this issue, organizations should implement solutions that enable real-time integrations and reconciliations. Beyond that, automating the revenue collection process provides significant benefits for the organization. It enables organizations to streamline the billing process and improve customer satisfaction, while ensuring more accurate forecasts and insight into revenue.
How to Improve Customer Engagement
Keeping these consumer preference trends in mind, here are three tips for improving customer engagement:
1. Make Payments Simple and Easy
Consistency and ease of use are two key components to delivering successful policyholder interactions. This can mean many things, but one important area that cannot be overlooked is your user interface, or online payment channel. Clunky user interfaces that are difficult to use increase calls to customer service and drive up manual collections. If customers cannot figure out how to use your payment platform, they will abandon self-service routes. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your online payment user interface is simple, and well-designed.
2. Optimize Payment Channels
Your organization already knows that customers want options when it comes to interacting with you and making payments. Delivering these options means creating omni-channel experiences that engage your customers across multiple channels. To do this effectively, take the time to understand your customers, the channels they use and their preferences. Then focus on making those channels as easy to use and engaging as possible. This will increase the odds that customers will use their preferred channels to self-serve.
3. Maximize Every Customer Touchpoint
Every single customer interaction is an opportunity for engagement and conversion to self-service. This means your organization needs to optimize both online and offline channels to encourage customers to enroll in time and cost-saving services like paperless billing, AutoPay, and auto renewals.
Here are a few channels that are commonly overlooked:
- Policy binding process. Other than premium payments, the policy binding process is one of the most critical touchpoints you have with your customers. Optimize this engagement point by prompting customers to enroll in AutoPay and auto renewal programs.
- One-time or guest checkout route. Almost half of all customers use a one-time payment or guest checkout route to pay their bills. A guest checkout is where a customer does not need to register to make a payment, so they never login to an account. It’s therefore critical to optimize the guest checkout route for engagement. This means prompting customers throughout the checkout process to enroll in self-service options like AutoPay or auto renewals.
- Post-payment. Even after a customer has made a payment, your organization should be prompting them to enroll in self-service options. With so few engagement points available to your billing organization, you need to take advantage of interacting with the customer during routine payment processes. This includes online and e-mail payment confirmation screens.
Optimizing customer engagement to produce the kinds of results your organization needs can seem like a huge undertaking. But when done correctly, focusing on customer engagement has the potential to help your organization retain customers while still keeping costs down and improving the overall policyholder experience.