The insurance industry has a reputation – perhaps wrongly perceived – as being stodgy and stoic. In some ways, perception informs reality. Many leaders in the insurance industry are still relying heavily on legacy systems and disparate software and programs to communicate with policyholders. With companies across all industries looking to improve relations with their customers, the ones who are employing a multichannel strategy are finding success and widening their customer base.
According to a recent report from research firm Gartner, entitled “An Integrated Multichannel Strategy Will Be a Key Factor in an Insurer’s Success”, multichannel integration is a key component in customer retention. With the rise of interest in conducting business in a digital environment, insurance providers need to “bridge significant gaps, or companies will risk customer dissatisfaction and limit growth potential.” The report’s author, analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferante, says that in order to stay customer-centric, insurers not only need to have a variety of channels to reach out to customers via their preferred method, they also need to “seamlessly integrate all channels so that customers can move between channels as needed.” She cites as an example customers who originate a servicing transaction on one channel, such as a web portal, and complete it on another channel, such as a mobile device. Data needs to be able to be automatically transferred between channels – and that is where an integrated solution is needed.
The adaptation of mobile devices, web portals and other emerging technologies is being done across all demographics, but it’s also important for insurers to meet the needs of one of the largest growing and potentially lucrative demographics – millennials. A recent survey by J.D. Power evaluating opinions on homeowner, rental and life insurance found that millennial consumers (born between 1977 and 1994) are not satisfied with the customer interaction that insurers provide.
Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power, says that insurers need to pay particularly close attention to this demographic and “adapt their business model to meet the needs of this large segment, which often involves evaluating the usability of their website and finding new ways to communicate with customers, such as through the use of email, apps and online chat."
For insurers to remain customer-focused, they need to adapt and deliver on their customers’ needs – and multichannel integration enables them to do so. A recent article at Information Week detailed 5 ways that multichannel integration benefits insurance providers:
- Multichannel integration allows insurers to know their customers better. When providers have access to all archival data (such as all previous customer servicing interactions, payments and call center contacts), they can better leverage this information to craft clear, concise and relevant messaging.
- Integration enables insurers to easily share customer information across devices, making it more convenient for customer self-service, regardless of the channel.
- Integration makes it possible for insurers to provide better customer service by “streamlining best practices and enabling collaboration at every stage of the customer lifecycle.”
- Integration empowers insurers to deliver relevant information and offers to their customers via their preferred communication channel – thus increasing revenue.
- Integration provides a “unified customer experience”, with customer information readily accessible to agents and contact center staff.
Insurance providers can improve their reputation and increase satisfaction by making sure to keep their customers’ wants and needs at the forefront of their communications strategy. Making customer service an “effortless experience” by delivering consistent service across all channels will result in truly satisfied customers.