By James Hall, Commercial Director, Striata
Insurers today face a host of challenges they wouldn’t have been able to imagine a decade ago. Quite apart from the pandemic related events of the past two years, which have seen them pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to businesses and families, the business environment around them has completely changed. A host of technology-centric startups, for example, are determined to eat into their customer bases.
At the same time, those customers expect increasingly sophisticated experiences, guided by their interactions with companies in other aspects of their lives. In a world where customers can get products and services on demand, why would they expect anything different from their insurers? In fact, research shows that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. Additionally, people are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and will share those experiences with other people, effectively taking on an evangelical role for your organisation.
Unfortunately, customer experience optimisation is not something that insurers have always excelled at. Take customer communication, for example. It’s an important pillar of customer experience but until recently, the only time most people had any contact with their insurer was when they had to make a claim or add something to their policy. It shouldn’t be surprising then that a 2021 poll revealed that nearly half (46%) of UK policyholders were looking to change providers within the next 12 months.
It’s therefore critical that insurers improve their customer experiences. Customer communication is a particularly good place to start on that front. After all, 95% of customers are looking for some degree of proactive communication from the companies with which they do business. Luckily, insurers aren’t on their own when it comes to improving customer communication. A Customer Communication Management (CCM) platform can be especially useful.
What a CCM platform is
Simply put, CCM platforms are integrated suites of software that allow organisations to send messages to customers that are tailored to their individual needs and specific platforms (web, email, SMS, print) and devices (mobile, laptop, tablet, PC) rather than being generic.
They also allow organisations to send out messages that don’t only provide the necessary information but the wider context of the interaction, which includes customer profile (e.g. lifestyle and life-stage needs), history of online activity, and personal preferences. Ultimately, this allows insurers to provide a more personalised experience.
For insurers, that can be incredibly valuable. Here’s how:
- Engage with customers on the right channels at the right time
The chances of any contemporary customer engaging with an insurer on a single channel are very slim. People change channels depending where they are, what time of the day it is, and what device they’re on.
A CCM platform allows insurers to provide a consistent experience to their customers through print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and a variety of other online channels. This kind of cross-channel consistency is key to building great customer experiences and makes it a great deal simpler for customers to switch between channels without compromising their progress around a specific query or task.
- Generate and deliver documents through a single provider
The insurance space is incredibly document-heavy. There are policies, bills, statements, claim forms and various other customer documents that form a critical part of any customer’s relationship with their insurer. While it’s inevitable that some of these documents will remain physical for a while to come, others are ideal targets for digitalisation.
A CCM platform allows organisations to achieve this blend of digital and physical documents through a single provider, while also meeting regulatory requirements. In the UK, these regulations include GDPR as well as the Data Protection Act of 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
- Store documents securely online and enable customers to self-serve
Those regulatory requirements, along with the damage that can occur as the result of a breach, also make the secure storage of documents essential. A CCM platform can help provide a repository for those documents. Additionally, it means that customers don’t have to try and keep documents themselves and makes it easier for customer service agents to locate documents (stored digitally, rather than in hard copy).
- Gather and utilise customer data to continually improve communications
Today, data is crucial to the operations of any organisation. Insurers are no exception. After all, you can’t provide customers with tailored messaging if you don’t know enough about them. But, as is the case with many industries, insurers often battle with legacy enterprise systems that silo data, preventing them from having a single view of the customer.
With a CCM platform, insurers can help bring together data from across the organisation to properly enable the organisation to use the available data and generate customised messaging in line with their customers’ specific needs and the point they’re at in their lifecycle.
- Encourage customers and brokers to adopt digital channels for communication
There is already a clear impetus for insurers to make the shift to digital communication in the insurance space. Research from Accenture shows that more than 50% of customers in the sector prefer using digital channels when they’re looking for product information or updating personal information with their insurer. The shift to digital also comes with significant cost reductions, which can be passed on to the customer. At a time when many households are facing increases in living costs thanks to inflation, that can be a critical point of differentiation.
Because of the customisation offered by CCMs, they can help organisations bring people towards those digital channels with personalised nudges and suggestions.
The best place to start
Of course, a CCM platform shouldn’t be the entirety of an insurer’s digital transformation and customer engagement efforts. But, given the importance of customer communication to the overall customer experience, there can be no doubt that it’s a very good place to start. Not only does it reduce costs, it also improves service levels, and increases overall levels of customer satisfaction. With customer experience being the big differentiating factor it is, it’s imperative that insurers give themselves as big an edge as possible, as soon as possible.