Customer engagement key to driving value in insurance

Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer at Webhelp UK, argues customer engagement is key to turning insurance from a community into a valued service. This article was also published on Post Online.

The relentless growth of the aggregator market has changed the game for insurers. With consumers now able to compare policies at the click of a mouse, you’d be forgiven for assuming offering the lowest price was the only way for providers to remain competitive.

However recent research suggests otherwise. According to a survey by from 1 to 1 media and KBM group, customers are less likely to defect to a competitor offering a lower price if they feel ‘engaged’ by their insurer.

So how can insurers develop this sense of engagement and ensure customer loyalty at the point of renewal?  The answer is really quite simple – clear, consistent and compelling communications at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

From the start insurers can foster this sense of engagement by being transparent about exactly what a product does, and doesn’t. This builds trust which can be developed by being clear on how and when premiums will be collected, and remaining on hand to respond to sign-up queries.

Once on board customers should also be given regular updates, tailored to their likely product life-stage requirements. Not only does this develop trust, but it also creates valuable cross-selling opportunities.

Engagement can also be promoted by ensuring queries are resolved promptly with helpful advice. While customers’ accounts should be reviewed at the point of renewal and timely reminders, identifying potential savings of more appropriate products, should be issued.

Most importantly, customers derive no greater sense of engagement than from an insurer that resolves their claim promptly, with a clear explanation of the process and the eventual decision.

Insurers have already devoted considerable efforts to operating with clarity, transparency and developing trust with their customers, but there remain significant opportunities to improve customer experience, particularly through digital and self-service channels.

Visiting a general insurer in Europe recently, I was struck by the impact advanced digital channels, including webchat, mobile and social media, had had in reducing running costs to 20% of annual premium income, while boosting its Net Promoter (NPS) and customer satisfaction scores (CSat) to the highest in its national market.

Together with a customer churn rate well below the industry average at just 20%, this is clear evidence, if any were needed, that efficiency and customer engagement can go hand in hand.

And the UK industry is starting to take this seriously. The 2013 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report suggests the UK’s top performing insurance providers already handle 35% of customer interactions by digital channels, while 11% have integrated social media into customer service delivery.

However, the bottom line is it doesn’t matter how many communications channels an insurer provides for customers, unless the experience delivered across them is consistent, compelling and designed to encourage that crucial sense of ‘engagement’.

Achieving this means understanding exactly which elements of the existing customer experience work, and which don’t.

This can be a lot easier than it sounds – all it takes is the simple application of analytics to the customer journey. From ensuring information is consistent across channels to reviewing how efficiently and satisfactorily claims are resolved, analysis can identify where customer expectations are not being met allowing insurers to plug any gaps.

There are those who believe the insurance industry is irretrievably commoditised.  I’m not among them.  By striving for customer engagement, I believe insurance providers can turn ‘a commodity’ into ‘a valued service’ customers will almost certainly be prepared to pay a little more for.

Our latest white paper Insure Against Loss examines in detail the opportunities in the insurance sector. In this paper we will explore how delivering an exceptional customer experience can increase customer engagement levels and reduce customer churn.

Get in touch with Helen on LinkedIn with your comments or questions.


Webhelp UK shortlisted for six National Customer Experience Awards

We’re delighted to be selected as a finalist in the UK Customer Experience Awards 2014. Now in their fifth year, the awards celebrate and reward excellence in customer experience and support organisations and businesses that wish to promote an exceptional customer experience.

The categories we’re up for are Best Customer Experience in: Retail - Webhelp UK and Viking
Small Contact Centre – Webhelp UK’s Rothesay Site
Employee Engagement: Values and Behaviours – Webhelp UK’s People Discovery
Insight & Feedback: A different perspective - Webhelp UK’s Innovation and Discovery
People/Team – A Whole New Level – Webhelp UK’s Viking 212 Team
People/Professional of the Year – Webhelp UK’s Ross Cumberlidge (Sky)
Finalists in each of the categories will present their entry to a team of Judges at ExCeL London on 25 September 2014.

Mike Purvis, Sales and Marketing Director, said:
“The opportunity to showcase and gain recognition for our hard work and outstanding customer experience results has never been greater and has led to this great news. Congratulations to our finalists and we look forward to celebrating and rewarding your success at the awards ceremony.”


300 NEW CUSTOMER FACING ROLES FOR DERBY

       ·         EE partners with Webhelp UK to create roles in Derby for its customer facing division, bringing 300 new jobs to the city

       ·         Marks the latest stage in both Webhelp and EE’s commitment to create more jobs for the UK  

11th June, 2014 – EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, has announced the creation of 300 new jobs in Derby as part of the strategy to become number one for customer service in the telecoms sector. The jobs are also a significant step forward in EE’s ongoing drive to generate jobs for the UK. EE is partnering with Webhelp UK to create the roles and has already kick started recruitment for the successful candidates to start this month.

Earlier this year EE committed to drive up customer service levels with the return of over 1,000 service roles to the UK from overseas call centres. The creation of the new roles in Derby marks the second stage of this plan to deliver industry leading call centre support, and closely follows the opening of a new customer centre in Derry/Londonderry in May.

Following the success of EE’s apprenticeship scheme first announced in March 2013, EE is also tripling the size of the programme recruiting more than 1,300 young people by the end of 2015. To date, EE has hired over 500 apprentices who have completed the programme. EE plans to continue to offer full time positions to the majority of the apprentices, many of whom are in areas of high unemployment.

Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, said: “The opening of our new call centre in Derby is the second UK contact centre we have opened in just a few weeks. It underlines our investment in the UK as well as our determination to make EE number one for service in the UK telecoms sector.

“The benefits for our customers are clear as the performance of UK call centres are shown to exceed that of those overseas. But, just as importantly, today’s announcement shows our significant investment in the UK is not restricted to our network and demonstrates a continued commitment to job creation for communities across the country.”

The 300 new roles deliver a welcome boost to employment levels in the East Midlands region. The latest Office for National Statistics Labour Market statistics revealed that Derby has a youth unemployment rate of 21% and today’s announcement will help continue to address this ongoing issue. The June 2014 figures will be announced later today.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, said: “This is a significant opportunity for Webhelp UK as we continue to grow as a business and this new partnership with EE will also allow us to create a large number of new team member roles in Derby.

“We are committed to delivering the best possible service to our clients and an excellent customer experience for their customers, and remain dedicated to creating new employment opportunities for talented people across the UK.”

In addition to its investment in jobs, including those announced today in the sales division of its customer facing team, EE has also invested over £6m in Derby since 2012, creating one of the most advanced, fastest and most reliable mobile networks not only in the East Midlands, but anywhere in Europe. The double speed 4G service is available across Derby, including at the iPro Stadium.   

The new partnership with EE follows a string of business wins for Webhelp UK, which has seen the customer experience solutions provider increase its headcount from 5,000 to more than 6,500 during the past 12 months

For more information on recruitment in Derby, please visit http://www.webhelpukcareers.com/

 


Customer experience optimisation in insurance

Every industry battles its fair share of challenges while optimising their customers’ experiences – across channels and product/service portfolios. The insurance sector is one where customer churn is high and defecting to competition is becoming increasingly commonplace. The rise of online comparison services combined with the very nature of insurance policies puts customers at higher risk where most relationships are up for review and renewal every 12 months.

How can insurers ensure they are picked at the end of those 12 months, every time? The key lies in using an omni-channel approach to deliver clear, consistent and compelling messages that customers want to engage with, guiding them down a well-structured and easily navigable journey.

This sounds ideal in theory, but the truth is insurers find the concept difficult to operationalise. We’ve recently published an insight article on customer engagement in the insurance sector which explores customer motives during the review and deliberation process before shifting to another insurance provider. Studies find that customers who feel engaged by their insurers are less likely to defect and are willing to accept an 8-15% price differential before jumping ship. The overall feedback to this has been positive, with most industry professionals agreeing to the need for a strong engagement strategy in their customer experience approach. We’ve also heard back from senior industry professionals who still feel that price is the singular, most important factor in determining customer loyalty in the insurance sector, and that engagement is a good-to-have. We would argue that while price is certainly important, as mentioned in our article, engagement is more than a value-add. It is essential for several reasons:

  1. Understanding customer needs – communication that forms the basis of engagement also transfers valuable information back to the insurer and helps deliver the service customers expect.
  2. Predicting customer behaviour – regular engagement does more than build a 360 degree view of customer needs, it can also predict future customer behaviour through big data mining and analytics.
  3. Reducing operational cost – the ideal approach in engaging customers is via a cross-channel approach depending on their preference and need. We’ve published a white paper on the advantages of operationalising omni-channel strategies and here’s link to a quick guide if you’re interested in reading further.

The truth is, customer engagement is one of the pillars on which the insurance customer experience needs to be modelled and not an additional aspect of customer service. Insurers need to evolve and adapt their attitude towards customers. Price alone can no longer be thought of as the hook, line and sinker, customers need more from their insurers, they need engagement as part of a positive customer experience, each time every time.

Our latest white paper Insure Against Loss examines in detail the opportunities in the insurance sector. In this paper we will explore how delivering an exceptional customer experience can increase customer engagement levels and reduce customer churn.


Webhelp UK’s Weekly Customer Experience Paper

This week's customer experience paper contains the latest news and articles on customer service, customer experience optimisation and omni-channel customer management. The paper is embedded below, you can also click through to read it as published on paper.webhelp.com