Insurance Contact Centers: The Ultimate Checklist to Improve Customer Experience

By Nick Kennedy

clipboardThe customer experience has become an increasingly important competitive differentiator for insurance companies. Customers have more choices and higher expectations than ever before. They’re also more knowledgeable about their options. This means that insurance contact center operations must be optimized for customers to meet both their needs and expectations.

According to a recent study from Forrester and the Harvard Business Review, only 8 percent of customers felt great about their experiences with the businesses they buy from. Yet more than 80 percent of businesses believe they offer great customer experiences. In other words, there’s a serious disconnect between what customers want and what they’re actually receiving.

So how can an insurance company improve their level of service within a contact center and differentiate themselves from their competitors? The answer is being able to put customers first. This means carefully looking at every touchpoint, channel, process, and system to ensure that it is supporting the customer journey and not hindering it. Yes, this is a very complex goal, but there are some very key areas to focus in on.

IVR System Optimization
Because your IVR system is an important gateway to your contact center, managing its functionality from the policyholder’s standpoint should be considered an ongoing task. This includes

  • Verifying the quality and correctness of greetings, messages, and prompts
  • Carefully ensure routing integrity
  • Monitor quality of natural language speech recognition
  • Keep menus to five or fewer items
  • Update the system as needs change, such as when new communication channels come online
  • Encourage feedback from contact center staff, as well as policyholders

Self-Service Options
In greater numbers, policyholders are choosing self-service options for managing tasks pertaining to their insurance. From purchasing policies to submitting claims, many prefer not having to wait on hold or talk directly with a contact center representative if they don’t have to.

It’s well worth the effort to explore where self-service can be integrated into your contact center service capabilities. Consider mobile apps, IVR system capabilities, online tools such as policy comparisons, and other options that can be offered.

Why self-service? Besides providing an opportunity to improve the customer experience, self-service channels can reduce call volume, provide policyholders with fast answers to the questions they need, and even increase cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Integration with Digital Channels
Along with using self-service channels, policyholders are also more likely to use a digital channel first before dialing for help. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to use social media, online chat or text – sometimes simultaneously, particularly when they’re trying to get resolution for an immediate issue.

Because policyholders and prospects are shifting between channels, context needs to be captured so that they aren’t forced to repeat their issue multiple times. The problem of siloed digital channels is getting more and more critical, and the insurance companies that embrace solutions that overcome this challenge will be able to achieve a higher level of customer experience.

On-hold Times
Because of the critical nature of policyholder calls, keeping them sitting on hold for extended periods of time will directly lead to increased churn and decreased revenue. Obviously, it’s important to have sufficient staff to ensure calls are getting answered on a day-to-day basis. But what about unexpected influxes of calls, such as following a natural disaster? This is when it’s wise to have a solution that gives policyholders the option of getting a call back, instead of just sitting in an on-hold queue. By giving callers the ability to do something other than wait on hold, you can greatly improve their journey and their overall perception of your company.

Insights
While there are many strategies for directly improving the customer experience, it’s important to not negate the usefulness of data. Today’s contact center and CRM solutions offer a tremendous amount of insights about policyholders and their behaviors. By learning about their journeys from start to finish, you can adapt current processes and procedures to make their experience more optimal. You can also gain valuable information that can be used to reduce costs, improve employee retention and even increase revenue.

What’s Next?
The contact center environment is changing rapidly for insurance companies. The days of simply answering calls is long gone. And with policyholders more likely than ever to change insurance providers, there is simply no room for delivering a poor customer experience. Because of this, it’s vital to stay on top of the latest innovations and adapt strategies based on what customers need. By not being the insurance company that is stuck in the 1990s, you can position yourself to gain more policyholders and hang on to the ones you already have.