The word "disruption" has been used so often that it's become underwhelming, but disruption certainly hasn't felt underwhelming for insurance companies. Between online-only insurers, price-comparison tools that tempt customers to jump ship, and the growing consumer demand for digital capabilities, insurers have had to continually reinvent themselves to remain relevant.
For years, experts have predicted insurance agents would end up like travel agents and video store clerks, diminished in number or rendered extinct by self-service business models. However, most agents still have something computers don't: personal relationships with customers.
The latest technology in communication amplifies that competitive advantage, helping insurers provide a customer experience that drives brand loyalty.
The Human Advantage
It's not about human versus machine. It's about machines making humans look good.
Consumers enjoy the convenience of online channels, but buying insurance can be complicated — and using insurance typically means you're having a rough day. In those frustrating moments, there's nothing more refreshing than getting quick answers from an informed and courteous human being.
According to McKinsey & Company research on repairable auto claims, the top qualities that most affect customer satisfaction include:
- Employee courtesy
- Ease of communicating with the insurer
- Employee knowledge and professionalism
- Transparency and ease of process
- Speed of claim settlement
Believe it or not, settlement amount ranks at No. 12 on the list.
Over the past five years, U.S. auto insurance carriers with consistent best-in-class customer experiences have grown new business two to four times more than other firms. They're also 30 percent more profitable, largely because satisfied customers are 80 percent more likely to renew.
How do insurers deliver that best-in-class customer experience? They do it by being easy to reach, providing quick assistance, and personalizing their services.
The Latest Technology in Communication: 3 Trends for Insurers
How does new technology improve the insurance customer experience?
1. One Tool to Rule Them All
Some consumers prefer to manage insurance online, while others prefer doing business with people. Most, however, prefer a mix, bouncing from one channel to another, and smart insurers follow.
Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) lets businesses synchronize real-time communications (RTC) features — voice, video, text, and instant messaging — in a cloud environment. Then they can easily add RTC features to their websites, apps, social media pages, and other digital properties. For example, a customer can initiate a video call within the insurer's app rather than logging in to a different video app.
Since CPaaS integrates all of a company's communication tools, employees don't have to switch between applications or transfer calls, allowing them to provide prompt, knowledgeable support.
2. Special Treatment, Brought to You by the IoT
No one likes to be stereotyped. Some teenagers are careful drivers, while some old people are healthier than their couch-loving grandkids. And consumers across all demographics will happily prove they're on their best behavior in exchange for lower premiums.
Forward-thinking insurers are experimenting with health wearables, dashboard cams, smart home technology, and other internet-connected sensors that transfer real-time data to the company. With a well-executed Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, insurers can help customers identify and mitigate risks. For example, they can warn drivers when they're speeding or remind homeowners to lock their doors. Customers get rewarded with reduced premiums, and insurers save money by avoiding potential claims.
By delivering personalized, timely advice, insurers also become trusted partners. They help customers keep themselves and their families safe, and that inspires loyalty.
3. Virtual Assistants and Chatbots
When people have complicated questions, most want to talk to a real person. When they need quick information, they don't mind talking to computers — provided those computers can actually understand them and provide relevant answers.
Virtual assistants can sort calls, handle simple questions and requests, and pass along customers who need human attention. Chatbots work similarly using business instant messaging. Either way, customers get fast responses, and employees have more time to help callers with complex needs.
Thanks to continuous advances in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual assistants and chatbots will become increasingly sophisticated in the coming years. It will be less "press 1 if you have a question about X," and more "how can I help you today?"
Other AI-based tools speed up the customer journey by automating underwriting, fraud detection and parts of the claims process. For example, Tractable's AI reviews photos of vehicle damage and decides within seconds whether the vehicle is scrap metal, worth repairing, or needs to be sent for appraisal. Customers get fast answers, and they get their cars back or their settlement checks sooner.
Thanks to the latest technology in communication, combined with the personal touch, insurers can continue to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
Connect with a Vonage Business expert to learn more about how these business communication solutions can help your organization.