Making a dent in customer claims using the power of human contact
For customers, both analog and digital channels are equally important when they are looking for insurance support.
Insurance companies are experiencing an unprecedented surge in customer service calls and inquiries related to customers’ concerns, whether it’s about paying their premium on time or questions about coverage and copays related to tests and prescription drugs.
The number is staggering: hold times during the current crisis have ballooned by as much as 38%, which naturally creates frustration among customers. And unlike the retail sector where customers can easily choose if and where they want to shop and which brands to favor, customers need insurance and often have fewer choices due to state regulation.
Simply put, insurance isn’t a nice thing to have. It’s a necessity, and the current crisis has created an added burden on the customer service segment of insurance. So how can insurers balance large numbers of inquiries while providing excellent service that keeps customers satisfied with their experience?
The answer lies in the power of human contact. Coupled with the right combination of technology and training, insurers can better reach their goal of helping representatives to do their jobs better while also delivering a great customer experience that ensures your brand stands out from the crowd.
Personalize the customer experience through training
It is estimated for a great customer experience, meaning, as the insurance world becomes more competitive — especially with more online insurance companies coming onto the scene — customer service is a key differentiator for insurers to set themselves apart. How a company treats its customers and how it makes them feel is now considered one of the most important factors in doing business. Even though customer service is being transformed by advancements in technology and is now overloaded with customers reaching out for customer service help, the human component will always be an important factor.
On the front line, customer service representatives are often the only interaction your customers will have with your company and your brand. Even though insurers are putting major investments into automation, it’s also important to turn your customer service representatives into champions to resolve issues and help customers through the claims process. Have you ever been in an accident, and the idea of starting the claims process seemed like an upward battle? This is a common frustration with customers and the more that representatives are trained to key-in on customer needs and truly understand the issue at hand, the better customers will feel about interacting with your company.
To achieve this, insurers should look to hire representatives that display a positive attitude throughout the hiring process and have the personality and potential to become an “ambassador” for your brand. Within the training process, insurers should provide representatives with comprehensive training around processes and policy during the onboarding process — but it doesn’t stop there. As regulation changes and practices are updated, representatives should be given ongoing training, including how best to supplement a customer inquiry with technology. When a representative has the right training under their belts, it makes it easier to be passionate about helping customers and providing best-in-class service.
Automate simple tasks
The customer service and claims aspect of insurance is becoming increasingly complex, and customer engagement methods are constantly changing. As technology impacts all segments of the insurance business, products and services are also becoming more complicated. Furthermore, the number of possible communication channels continues to grow to make it simple and convenient to start a service chat, regardless of the time and place.
While the human factor is a key component to delivering excellent customer service, these shifts, along with the recent uptick in hold times on service lines, can bring immense challenges for insurers. To help with these issues, insurers are turning to automation tools that can increase efficiency, provide an enhanced customer experience and lower costs. And using automation makes sense for customer service because the technology is supporting representatives to do their work more effectively. Through automation, processes can be handled quickly with greater accuracy and reduce the need for unnecessary repeat contact. These benefits free-up representatives to focus on more strategic and complex work, making automation a win-win for both insurance companies and customers.
One important factor to keep in mind is to take a balanced view of automation where it’s leveraged as a tool for the customer service representatives, rather than the mechanism for the customer service experience. Customers expect to have some level of human interaction with their insurer, so in using technology as a support system, and not the be-all-end-all, insurance companies will find better and more frequent success in handling customer needs.
Balance humans and technology to make processes exceptional
When customers reach out for support, they want the experience to be three things: personal, fast and easy. To fulfill this expectation, insurers must offer trusted, familiar contact channels with digital options while leveraging the expertise of representatives during an interaction. While customers still want quick and stress-free access to friendly and accommodating representatives over the phone, there is also a desire to communicate via digital contact options like email, chat and even self-service. For customers, both analog and digital channels are equally important when they are looking for insurance support.
When submitting a claim, customers also want a seamless, rapid, and individualized process. At the same time speed becomes a larger priority, which can be tricky when customer service volumes spike. This is where proactive service (and automation) can help with direct exchanges by giving customers options such as requesting a call back if they’re put on hold.
When insurance companies look to technology as a supportive tool for well-trained representatives, they can make a bigger dent in the number of inbound inquiries and claims, because at the end of the day, what creates truly stand-out customer service is the human factor. While the current increase in hold times is expected to be temporary, it doesn’t mean that insurers can’t provide a meaningful customer experience. All you need are representatives that have the know-how to meet customer expectations and provide memorable customer service and the right supportive automation tools.