Investment in customer experience is accelerating across every industry, not just insurance, with 81% of marketing leaders expecting customer experience to be the main battleground for competition by 2020 - and they’re not wrong. A McKinsey study found that 70% of customers base their opinion of a company on the quality of its customer experience. And for an industry that sells intangible benefits like insurance customer experience is even more key. With Insurtech startups entering the market with the latest CX technology, traditional insurers are scrambling to address their customer experience gaps. If you’re not investing in CX, you’ll be left behind.

But where do you start? Advancing might not be as hard as you first think. Here are three areas in which we believe it would pay to invest your efforts:

1. Tip 1: measure metrics that matter

It is a truism that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The key is knowing what you need to measure so that you can manage the right things.

Insurance differs from other products and services in that customers pay in advance even though they expect and hope they will never need your products and services.

Most customers expect to make regular payments and never receive anything in return from you. The downside of this customer expectation is it may make these customers harder to retain because they find it difficult to see the value and they are likely to have more immediate needs.

Except for issuing renewal notices more than 90 percent of insurers worldwide do not communicate with their customers even once a year. “20 to 40 percent of our customer base will not receive a single communication all year” said Oliver Börner, principal business solutions manager for global customer intelligence at SAS.

And while how you respond at key moments of truth like a claim are key factors in retaining customers, if a customer never lodges a claim you can’t rely on your swift claims process to give them a reason to stay with you. So what should you measure?

A global Bain & Co survey found that while customers rank quality as the most important factor across every insurance sector, engendering loyalty in your ideal customer goes beyond offering them a quality product. Loyalty leaders please their customers at every touch point, from claims to routine interactions like lodging a change of address or responding to queries.

While you may think of each interaction as discrete, customers see them as steps in an overall journey that determines whether their needs are met. That’s why it’s so important to measure customer satisfaction at every step of the insurance journey, from visiting the website for the first time to satisfactorily concluding a claim.

2. Don’t tinker, rebuild

In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, simply adding a chatbot or online application form to a legacy system will not suffice. Superficial changes can’t begin to address the problems inherent in old systems. To stay ahead of the competition and transform your customer experience from the ground up, you need to be prepared to ditch the systems that are holding you back.

For example, the claims processing function of older systems often rely on laborious manual inputs that must be replicated at multiple steps. Implementing a system that instead allows different system components to easily share data eliminating re-keying not only offers cost savings, it accelerates the journey to vastly improve the customer experience.

Building from the ground up also allows you to create data lakes and integrate data analytics and AI so that you can analyze what your customers will respond to so you can tailor your marketing offers.

Once customers are signed up, integrated processes enable them to change their details, reprint documents, update their cover and lodge claims on mobile-friendly platforms with seamless workflows that process all changes quickly through to resolution in a streamlined process. Automated underwriting and fraud detection also remove manual overheads and eliminate delays transforming the customer experiences to a fast, fuss-free process from start to finish.

Consider a system that lets you tailor products and processes through configuration and rules, so that instead of laboriously coding every product individually, you can tailor them through configuration panels so you can quickly add and update new products as needed.

3. Know what system capabilities are key to success

To provide a great customer experience, there are three capabilities that are essential in the digital age – personalisation, an omnichannel experience and automated claims management and support.

Personalisation

Your customers want to feel like you know them and understand their needs. To achieve this, your system needs to be able to dynamically adjust to provide the experience and products they want.

By analysing general buying patterns and preferences and matching against what you know about the customer you can present a more individualised – and valued offer including using automated triggers to help them choose the right products.

One company that has nailed personalisation is Netflix. The streaming company uses machine learning algorithms to learn your personal preferences and make recommendations based on your viewing history. Every user gets a tailored viewing experience that helps the company retain its market edge.

Google have long been doing the same by providing news stories and promotions tailored to what you have been searching for and browsing.

Try: A simple change you can make is to customise your offerings to reflect the life stage of your prospect. Once you can identify where that customer is in their interactions with you, you can make sure that they see relevant calls-to-action, support and products. Address every customer by name and show them the products which your research suggest they are most likely to buy. You can also show them offers of ancillary services and helpful lifestyle content that is relevant to their interests.

4. Look to provide an omnichannel experience

Research shows that most consumers will make contact in multiple ways before committing to a product. Those might include clicking through from an advert in their social media feed, filling out an enquiry form on your website, emailing for clarification, checking a review site for feedback about your company, ringing for further information or any number of other interactions. If they can’t make contact in the way they prefer, the chance is they may give up and go to a competitor who has this process nailed.

Advances in real-time synchronisation of customer data now means that a client who begins filling out a claim form online can then pick up where they left off and complete it over the phone when they contact you for help. By offering omnichannel responsiveness like this, you can recognise the journey they’re on and be ready to meet them no matter how they choose to interact with you. For example, baby boomers may prefer to reach out by phone while the millennials may choose to send an instant message. This approach ensures that all customers are responded to in their preferred channel, in an equally short amount of time.

Try: Providing customers with real time information that makes it easier for them to do business with you, like allowing customers to inquire on their claim progress by SMS.

5. Automated claims management and support

Fast, speedy, convenient claims lodgement and processing are at the core of a good insurance customer experience. AI technology can be used to speed up the claims process every step of the way, providing true 24/7 responsiveness.

But customers still want in-person interactions, so AI can be used to automate tasks historically done by humans, freeing up staff time to respond to more complex queries and processes. Those might include risk management, fraud detection and smarter underwriting decisions.

Insurtech start up Lemonade has made its mark by building a business around AI and big data. Open the app and you’re greeted by a chatbot who will provide you with a personalised policy within minutes. Another chatbot reviews, claims and performs standardised fraud checks using algorithms. More complex matters are handed over to humans but the entire experience is seamless end to end.

Try: Reviewing and mapping your entire customer journey. If you already have this down-pat try enabling self-service by using AI to create virtual assistants. Customers can apply for policies, renewals and cancellations, all without waiting for a callback.

Conclusion

I think in order to be able to offer a top-class customer experience, you have to understand what it is that your customers value. Always put customer engagement at the heart of everything and you’ll not go far wrong. The biggest tip I could give is try not to be too broad in your approach to change, pick a specific challenge to trial and measure absolutely everything from the base line.

There is no doubt in my mind technology and software has the power to transform the insurance industry to not only provide new avenues of business but excel the customer experience, if only insurers will take the risk and make the change.

We are Axe, a leading insurance solution provider helping our customers shift to meet their customers’ needs. We’ve built our reputation on having the most innovative and adaptable software in the market. So, if you’re wanting to change the rules, we should talk.