The Many Joys of Moving

stackofmail3Almost everyone has moved at one time or another, some of us from state to state, some from country to country, and others simply from office to office. In thinking about it, I would have to say that of all the many “joys” associated with moving—packing and unpacking, damaged furniture, cleaning—the most “rewarding” task has to be painstakingly updating my address dozens of times. It can certainly be discouraging to fill out form after form and wind up only marginally successful for your efforts. Unfortunately, it’s been my experience (and perhaps yours as well), that of all the companies I do business with, my insurance carrier tops the list of those with the most frustratingly inefficient processes.

Lucky for me, I have a friend who is an insurance agent. He helped guide me through the process of running down the necessary updates to all of my various policies, but it left me thinking about all the other policyholders in a similar situation that don’t have a friend who is an insurance agent.

After all was said (and almost done), I received no less than six separate confirmation letters of the address change from my insurance carrier, and they were all sent individually via first class mail. No aggregation, no savings on postage, paper, and print costs—just brute force—simply to let me know that the necessary updates had been made! I asked my friend/agent what was involved in making the address change, and he said that to the best of his knowledge, at least four different systems had to be updated in spite of the fact that all my policies were through a single insurance carrier.

The whole frustrating process got me thinking seriously about finding a new insurance carrier, one that cares more about the customer experience (and the agent's), and doesn't require either of us to waste so much time jumping through so many ridiculous hoops. Is it too much to ask for an insurance carrier to provide competitive rates, easy online self-service, and agents able to support my financial and insurance needs as my family continues to grow?

Switching insurance carriers might not be fun, but it certainly isn't hard to do these days. With online rate comparisons, several decent direct carriers with good websites and call centers, and agents that operate independently, there are literally hundreds of available options. Ultimately, I was left scratching my head trying to understand why this carrier continues to provide a broken and costly communications experience. Surely it isn't about saving money. Their processes (and customer churn) must be costing them a ton. I have to assume that my carrier is hampered with old core IT applications, and their IT organization is overwhelmed by the number and complexity of changes required to keep pace with evolving market demands, otherwise, this is a no-brainer, right?

Rather than switching carriers, I'd much rather show them a better way, because that's what I do with CEDAR’s insurance practice... help carriers provide agents and customers easy self service and allow them to specify the communications medium(s) of their choosing (email, mobile, SMS, web portal, IVR, fax, social). Everyday, we help insurance carriers eliminate unnecessary data processing, print and mail costs while improving the customer experience (and retention rates as well). We help carriers realize the value of improving the communication experience at every point in the policy lifecycle and empower our client’s business users to continuously improve the communications experience without complex IT projects.

Strategic advisory firm Strategy Meets Action (SMA) published a perspective on new options for insurers looking to gain a competitive advantage, which I would recommend it to anyone looking to enhance their customer communications.

Needless to say, when I experienced the exact problem with my carrier that we are helping others solve every day, I wanted to shout "Call CEDAR!". I hope they do call, but in the meantime, I'll do what others do everyday, switch to another carrier and hope my old one eventually catches on.

Have you had a similar experience with an insurance company? If you work for a carrier, do you have a broken and costly communications process like the one I described? Let us know in the comments section.