Insurers New Approach to Customer Service: Focus on Customer Relationships

If there’s one thing consumers truly appreciate, it’s excellent customer service. When you create a memorable experience that goes above and beyond, people remember it. Today, insurers are carefully crafting outstanding customer interaction best practices and increasing customer retention rates by providing a genuinely pleasant experience.

There are two parties toward which insurance companies are directing revitalized customer service initiatives: policyholders and distribution partners. In both cases, with a renewed focus on interactions with clients, customer experiences are going well beyond the service transaction.

Technology and Customer Service: Creating a Smooth Transaction Experience

Nearly all insurance companies have implemented technology solutions that are equipped to handle a high volume of customer interactions. This has driven the cost per transaction downward to historic lows, significantly improving cost-effectiveness. However, many companies have not yet leveraged the full potential of these systems to deliver increased value to the customers. Each exchange and interaction, even those that occur through online systems, can be viewed as one component of the overall relationship.

To improve customer service, a shift of focus from transaction to interaction needs to take place. Historically, insurance customer transactions have revolved around a few key goals: efficiency, accuracy, compliance, and a quick response time. All four are still important, but response times, in particular, have benefitted immensely from technology. This relationship between technology and response time is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it is possible for insurance companies to complete transactions faster than ever before. On the other, however, the potential for “instant everything” has greatly altered customer expectations about timeliness.

What used to be a “reasonable response time” may no longer be sufficient. In an age where nearly anything can be purchased immediately from almost anywhere and delivered fast, customers expect quick response times. The bar for quick service is set higher than ever before, and to stay competitive, insurers must comply with changing customer demands.

Along with response times, other aspects of customer experience are also gaining new importance. One is communication. As technology has opened up new opportunities for new communication channels, insurers must leverage them. Customers expect access to expert advice almost instantly, and insurers must make sure that their mobile-accessible services are just as easy to use and seamless as face-to-face interaction.

A Holistic Approach to Customer Experience

Each interaction between a customer and an insurance company is one small facet of a bigger overall relationship. This relationship shapes over the course of multiple transactions. A company’s awareness of customer experiences and attitudes toward the company must extend far beyond each transaction. In order to offer a more gloablized approach to cultivating postivie customer relationships, it is important that each interaction is considered in context.

Each transaction is important, and weakness in just one of them could derail the client relationship. A transaction that seems relatively isolated could have a global effect on the customer’s overall perception of their relationship with the insurer, and the quality of the company’s customer service.

Proactive communication, in which the company reaches out to apologize to the consumer, can make a big difference. By indicating that you are aware of the situation and that your intention is to resolve it, you can restore trust and confidence that may have been lost during the transaction itself. These proactive communications need not be bespoke and individualized — instead, they can easily be automated.

Viewing Transactions As Part of a Greater Whole

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, and keep up with evolving consumer demands for faster, better service, insurers are increasingly taking a more holistic approach to customer relationships. Each transaction is not an isolated event, but one small component of a larger overall experience. Deluxe eChecks electronically delivers checks to ensure speed and safety, instantly gratifying the customer. The intention is to offer an outstanding experience while significantly reducing costs to the company. Faster services, proactive communication, and precise identification of disappointing experiences can help insurers continuously improve their customer service practices for better customer retention.