Adaptation of original article posted on RetailBankerInternational.com, September 2016
The financial services industry is ripe for change. Customers are more demanding due to the improving experiences they have in other industries, regulators are on the charge to re-establish trust, and booming Fintech is decreasing the cost to serve customers.
Some parts of the industry are catching on, but others lag. Our latest annual Customer Experience Survey shows that insurance companies are among the worst at serving their customers.
Nurturing Relationships with Customers
We’ve identified three ways for insurers to turn the page and improve the experience of their customers: by designing experiences for simplicity, context and consistency.
1. Design for Simplicity
Levels of customer effort can predict customer loyalty. The lesser effort customers put into a relationship with a company, the more likely they are to remain with them.
Through experience with other industries, customers are used to quick, easy and smooth experiences and a growing number expect exactly the same from financial services. Customers have become exhausted, frustrated and angry with services that should seem straightforward on the surface, but are actually overwhelmingly cumbersome.
Insurance company, Zurich realised that it’s not just about getting the basics right, but going beyond customer expectations and an easy claims process that yields a successful claim, creates satisfied customers that love and trust their insurance company. Most notably they wanted to challenge the perception that claims don’t get paid or that it can take an unnecessarily long time. Addressing these assumptions led to a 25% decrease in claims-to-payout time and engendered lasting customer relationships through trying times.
Design the complexity out of the experience, and increase the chances of customer success. Think your customer journeys through so it makes sense to customers, and mimic the smooth experience they have with their favourite companies.
2. Design for the context
Financial products are complex and hard to understand. Designing for the customers’ context makes it easier for them to grasp the value of what they’re considering purchasing.
By closing the gap between “having cover”, and “being covered”, you will build a strong foundation of the type of trust that creates lasting long-term relationships.
Zurich UK Life’s widely publicised initiative placed customer needs at the centre of the critical life claims process. Agents were granted a budget to show they care when dealing with customers who’ve been diagnosed with a critical illness. Twenty-two new initiatives were launched to help speed up the payment process, including increased use of text and email to communicate with customers. Claims specialists were also encouraged to give updates to customers over the phone to provide better emotional and practical support.
Understand your customers’ needs and how they behave throughout their end-to-end journey. Knowing what your customers need through this holistic perspective will allow you to harness technology to best use customer data to meet their needs and drive engagement.
3. Design for consistency
Customers are more likely to become loyal when a service is delivered consistently well. This implies that from one end of the customer journey to the other, and across channels, the service level is reliable.
Design for a consistent experience across the journey, so that you are just as responsive and reactive when you are selling, as when you are supporting. This, unfortunately, is not the norm in the industry, and the source of a lot of customer mistrust.
Customers also experience consistency through service continuity – they expect to be able to continue something in a channel that's different from the one they started in. If they begin their search for travel insurance on a computer, they expect to be able to continue it over the phone and complete it at a branch. Design for a reliable consistent experience they recognise.
To achieve this consistency, it's important there is a company-wide customer experience vision and service principles that guide service across all channels and throughout the whole customer journey. This philosophy was brilliantly employed by Virgin for the award-winning customer experience initiative “Voice of Our Brand.”
So, build long-lasting relationships with customers by designing for…
…Simplicity - so they choose you over competitors because it’s so easy to do business with you.
…Context - to hook them on your service because it’s relevant to them and their world.
…Consistency, so they know they can rely on your service.
Read some financial case studies here