“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”―Maya Angelou
“Customer intimacy” might be the latest catchphrase in customer experience, but I wonder how policyholders really feel about being more intimate with their insurance company. How close do they really want to be? If customer intimacy provides a feeling of comfort, of being taken care of, of being treated consistently—as a numero uno—then I suspect most policyholders would fully embrace the concept. And if the carrier can truly deliver on that promise, then you basically have a match made in heaven. Indeed, loyal customers have up to three times the net promoter value of passive customers.
The arrow into the heart of that relationship is via anomnichannel experience. Omnichannel communications are a key digital capability that customer-centric insurers are embracing to meet customers’ rising expectations and to improve retention. But it is not what the vast majority of insurance customers are experiencing today.
Most insurers currently support multichannel interactions, but many of their portal and mobile capabilities remain siloed and deliver a disconnected experience to the customer. Omnichannel capabilities go beyond multichannel to unify online, mobile, and offline channels and link them directly with core systems to ensure a consistent customer experience, regardless of the interaction method.
Omnichannel means you’ll never have to say you’re sorry
Don’t risk disappointing your customers; instead, delight them. In the omnichannel world, channel switching is transparent for the customer, who never has to repeat or re-enter information, never has to wait too long for a response, and always interacts with a person or a system that understands the relationship and the context of the customer’s request. Isn’t that starting to sound like a relationship that is going places?
The key idea here is that you don’t want to leave the customer to wilt and die on the vine. Engagement can take many forms as it shape-shifts through channels, responding to and chronicling a policyholder’s life events—new home, new car, new baby, deaths, injury—doing what any good friend does.
Imagine, as a policyholder, being alerted on your preferred device that your daughter’s car on your policy has been in an accident and help is on its way—before she is able to contact you directly. The future is a world of connected cars and connected homes—connected everything—bringing useful, timely, or actionable information to the insured. This connected future could not only help policyholders manage their risk, but also delight them with insights and recommendations, even humor, and link them in real time to all entities in their account.
Yes we have soup, but not for you
Love and true friendship can be elusive, however, so don’t expect it to be coming to the insurer near you anytime soon. The omnichannel experience emanates from the warm, fuzzy, and holistic inner workings of a digital insurer. And, alas, to borrow from the heartsick refrain, “A good digital insurer is hard to find.” A recent Accenture survey revealed that only 25 percent of insurers have a single view of the customer, and are working to improve the customer experience across all contact points. Given the tight link between customer-centricity and the digitalization of insurer operations, a lot of progress has yet to be made.
Why so little love from insurers? In all fairness, for some it is not for lack of trying, but they are knocking against the biggest obstacle—says the same study—faced by insurers executing a digital strategy: overcoming the challenge of legacy systems.
SMA analyst Mark Breading underscores this point in a recent research report, The Digital Insurer: A Framework for Enterprise Capabilities in the Digital Age, in which he states that modern core solutions provide the foundation and infrastructure to enable digital insurers by supporting real-time mobile interactions and omnichannel operations.
Get to the heart—or rather, the core—of the matter
A true omnichannel solution is not an add-on capability. It does not consist of digital capabilities layered on top of, or to the side of, other channels. In many instances, insurers are pursuing a string of unconnected initiatives layered onto a legacy core administration system, but this incremental approach only forestalls the inevitable.
Enabling a true omnichannel strategy for insurers requires embedding and integrating this capability at the core policy, billing, claims, and customer account processing level. While vastly improving the customer experience, this strategy also has the huge benefit of allowing insurers to avoid unneeded integration to additional portal and mobility solutions, get their digital customer services to market quickly, and reduce overall sales and servicing costs.
True omnichannel capabilities bring interactions and information together for a differentiating customer experience that fosters loyal customers, and both insurers and customers will feel the difference.