[Webinar] Social media management and intervention for insurance providers

Using social media for customer contact, listening and intelligence can be more difficult for insurance providers than it is in other sectors.

This webinar took a detailed look at practically leveraging the obvious benefits of social within the insurance sector and also how to manage the data and protection risks.
A hands-on and valuable webinar for anyone who plays a role in insurance customer experience. 

1 - What is social intelligence? 
2- Understand the potential applications of social intelligence for the insurance industry: marketing, customer service, market research, R&D 
3 - Benefits to implementing a social intelligence for insurers & insurance players 
4 - How to get started and what to consider at each step 
5 - Real Life Insurance case study


Is Omnichannel Confusion Hurting The High Street?

A new report from PwC suggests that almost 1,000 shops disappeared from the British High Street last year. That’s three times the number of stores that vanished in 2013. What is going on?

Fewer customers are venturing out into the High Street is the simple answer. Data from the British Retail Consortium shows that High Street shoppers declined by 3.9% last March – compared to last year – and shopping centres are down 3.7%.

This sounds like online shopping is killing the High Street, but data from a Techcrunch survey suggests that 78% of shoppers prefer to go to real shops rather than buying online. If the shopping apocalypse we all predicted in the nineties has not arrived then how come fewer shoppers are really out there shopping?

Terry Hunter, the UK MD at ecommerce specialists Astound Commerce believes that the answer lies somewhere in the confused message many brands are sending out with their incomplete omnichannel offering. Talking to Information Age magazine Hunter aid:

“Although online shopping meets certain needs, a brand’s physical outlets serve a different purpose,' says Hunter. 'A store is somewhere for consumers to have a conversation about a product line. Yet more importantly it’s also an expedient location to easily return an unwanted item or resolve an issue immediately - a level of convenience that simply cannot be found online.”

Brands that don’t integrate their stores into their online offer are creating a problem. Some shoppers strongly prefer to shop online. Some prefer to shop online, but will always visit a store to check products in person first. Some usually prefer the store, but will often use the online channel to do product research. Somehow the online experience and the store experience need to connect so that all these shoppers feel served equally well.

The problem comes, for example, when shoppers can see online deals that are not reflected in-store. If the brand creates the impression that the online channel and stores are competing with each other then many customers will feel confused, or cheated, and will migrate to other brands.

I believe there is a big change taking place on the High Street today and brands can only function effectively if their online and in-store offers are completely synchronised so I agree with much of the analysis suggested by Hunter. Customers are splitting in their preferred styles of shopping and brands need to acknowledge this and serve all equally well. The omnichannel needs to become a reality.

Insurers Are Making You Talk

The rise of internet and digital channels, as well as the emergence of price comparison websites, have changed how people research and buy insurance.

Choice and ease of comparison have offered customers greater control over their provider and critically, their cash.

With these factors in mind, we surveyed 1,000 UK car insurance consumers in March to find out how they rated the customer experience of dealing with their car insurer.

Somewhat surprisingly 90 per cent told us that when it comes to contact channels they prefer to call. Previous research from eDigital found that only 45 per cent of consumers overall are happy to use the phone. Additionally, research from Dimension Data predicts that digital will overtake voice for all customer interactions within two years.

So if consumers increasingly prefer typing over talking, what is going on in the insurance sector?

We started to explore the way car insurance brands are communicating with their customers.

In a recent insurance technology article in computerworlduk.com, Gordon Rutherford, head of marketing and e-commerce at AXA Insurance, commented: “Insurers still use a language that is alien to customers.”

Within the same article, Andrew Brem, chief digital officer at insurance group Aviva adds: “If I think of the nomenclature of financial services, even on digital you are filling out a form. The button says ‘apply’. When do I apply for something from Amazon? This notion of a form, of applying, of a quote or of acceptance is entirely outmoded.”

This use of language to dictate a very traditional process could also be found on the claims pages of many car insurers websites, such as “call us as soon as possible after an accident.”

Perhaps the reason customers “prefer” to call, is because we are told to.

Behind the times

Whilst 85 per cent of insurers had a Twitter account, we found that only 29 used Twitter direct messages to resolve customer queries.

The same small proportion actively promoted the touch point as a communication channel via their website.

Incredibly, a fifth didn't even offer email contact and only 15 per cent offered live chat support to customers using their website.

It seems that insurers have been so slow to adopt new communications technologies. They are forcing customers to revert back to making calls, which they see as old-fashioned and inconvenient.

That’s going to make the brand seem old-fashioned and inconvenient too.

And customers are noticing. Consultants Engine asked 1,000 consumers to rank 14 UK sectors on their customer experience last year and the insurance sector was rated dead last.

While insurers may not be proactively using digital communication, their customers are, to share their experiences – good and bad – with friends and strangers.

Spread the word

Our own research found that more than half of car insurance customers (55 per cent) are unlikely to recommend their insurer, almost half (47 per cent) are unhappy about their dealings with their insurer and a third thought their insurer wasn’t doing enough to engage with them.

And poor communication leads customers to have doubts about other areas of a brand’s service – 33 per cent said they worried their insurer wouldn’t pay promptly and efficiently if they made a claim.

It works the other way too. While only 15 per cent of the insurance providers we analysed offered the following four different channels of contact - voice, email, twitter and live chat - tellingly, 77 per cent of their customers said they would be likely to recommend them, against a survey average of 44 per cent.

Horses for courses

There are additional requirements around confidentiality and security that can make it difficult to do business through some channels, but it’s a question of understanding which queries can be managed and how far, and which need referring to another channel.

Given that 15 per cent of them have managed to make it work, we have to ask why the majority have yet to embrace a multichannel model, let alone an omnichannel model.

From the same 2016 computerworlduk.com article reference earlier, Andrew Brem discussed the sector’s approach to personalization. He said: “Historically we treat every application as if we had no clue about who was applying.”

Webhelp’s chief customer solutions officer, Helen Murray, adds: “Data and applied insight is the key to a successful omnichannel customer contact model.

“Insurance providers are in a unique position with regards to the data they collect on their customers and their interactions but, unlike other sectors, they are failing to use that data to get closer to knowing their customers as individuals.

“Personalisation is the untapped opportunity for a real revolution in insurance customer experience.”

Bank on digital

The shortcomings of the insurance industry are thrown into sharp relief when we look at the advances made elsewhere in the financial services sector and particularly by banks, which face many issues of regulation, security and confidentiality that are common to insurers.

The use of secure apps is now standard across the industry, with every high street bank also having a presence in the app store, enabling their customers to resolve queries through their smartphones and driving traffic away from voice.

Many banks have launched dedicated digital strategies to great fanfare, while most insurers appear to have been noticeably trailing in their wake.

Insurance is already a sector that suffers from appallingly low levels of customer loyalty – a quarter of UK consumers have dumped their car or home insurer in the last year – so why are so many insurers missing this golden opportunity to enhance their relationships with their customers?

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.

Photo credit: Source

Talented Webhelp trio short-listed for top industry awards

Webhelp, has been shortlisted in three individual categories at this year’s National Outsourcing Association (NOA) Professional awards, to be held on Thursday 19th May 2016 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

The finalists are Miriam Elliott, head of operations, South Africa, who is nominated for ‘strategic leader of the year,’ and operations managers, Gavin Cox and Sarah Cann, who are short-listed in the categories of ‘manager of the year’ and ‘rising star of the year’ respectively.

All three are being recognised for their excellent contributions to Webhelp operations, including the key roles they have played in the on-boarding of Webhelp’s new partnership with Shop Direct. The digital retailer appointed Webhelp in summer 2015 to drive a long-term digital customer management transformation programme.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK commented on the nominations, saying:

“Although we are only at the start of our digital transformation journey with Shop Direct, it’s incredibly rewarding to see such early successes in our partnership and the NOA has helped us to publically recognise the personal contributions of three very deserving people.

“Our people make Webhelp the business that it is, without them customers would go unheard, data would be left as words and numbers and we would fail to see the customer management solutions in Facebook’s recent chatBots announcement for example. We have a team to be really proud of.”

Now in its fourth year the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) Professional Awards is the only awards ceremony solely dedicated to celebrating the talents of those working across the outsourcing and shared services industry.


Press information:

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com

[Infographic] UK Car Insurance Customer Experience

Webhelp recently carried out some research on Customer Experience within the UK Car Insurance Industry. 1000 customers were surveyed and we've shared the results of this research here in multiple formats.

The research made for interesting reading, with most of the insurers we surveyed appearing to be focused on voice contact and very few embracing a digital approach to customer engagement.

Customers contact channel preferences raised a few eyebrows as well, with most we spoke to indicating that they preferred to call.

This was all the more surprising given a previous body of research carried out by eDigital, who found that only 45 per cent of all consumers are now happy to use the phone to call; Dimension Data have also predicted that digital will overtake voice for all customer interactions within two years.

And now we have our handy new info-graphic which explores our findings in a bit more detail.

Click here to access the full infographic

Facebook chatbots announcement has far reaching implications for customer service.

Hot on the heels of publishing an API for Facebook messenger which allows brands to interact with customers via the platform, their latest announcement regarding chatbots at the F8 conference has far reaching implications for customer service departments.

Opening up Messenger as a platform was significant. Using this communication channel enables customer experiences such as these from KLM or Uber, where customers can contact brands using Messenger, and brands can then automate status update messages such as flight information or taxi delivery times etc.. but what does this new announcement give us?

“Bots” are becoming a hot topic; they offer the chance to automate specific conversations, reducing contact costs and customer effort while increasing responsiveness. We have all seen early attempts at this a few years ago with virtual agents which weren’t terribly clever, but now that type of technology is coming of age with 2nd and 3rd generation VA platforms offering compelling customer experiences. Critically the ability to integrate with self-service systems opens up a wealth of opportunities for brands to serve customers in a uniquely convenient way.

For me, all a 'bot' is, is a Virtual Agent that sits behind a messaging platform, so why is this so important? The impacts will be on contact channel strategy and could affect brands’ app strategy.

From a contact channel perspective, when it comes to communicating with brands, customers will want to use the messaging tools they use every day e.g. Facebook Messenger, SMS, WhatsApp etc.. For each customer this channel choice will be different and over time the number of messaging channels will increase. Messaging (multiple platforms) will need to become an inherent part of brands’ Omni channel strategy. What bots will do is offer the opportunity of automation to enable brands to handle the volume while serving customers quickly and efficiently. With bots all of the simple contact types can be efficiently and expertly handled.

From an app perspective things are changing. In a recent Telegraph article, a Gartner quote predicted that app usage will plateau. Other statistics show that apps have a half-life which can often be extremely short. This means that brands will have to work harder to keep their apps front of mind for customers. Adding digital contact features such as web chat as part of this push may help but brands need to bear in mind that doing this to the exclusion of messaging is not likely to work. Contacting brands via digital channels needs to be independent (but not exclusive) of the brand’s app.

Here’s what I think will happen next:

1. Facebook’s move will bring chatbot vendors to the fore, offering brands a selection to adopt

2. Chatbot vendors will adopt all messaging channels, based the popularity of each messaging platform

3. Bots used on messaging platforms and as Virtual Agents on web sites will be able to seamlessly hand off to a customer service advisor if they are unable to deal with the query

4. Other social or messaging platforms will open up APIs similar to Facebook (if they haven’t already) increasing the number of channels brands can use. This is a challenge and an opportunity for brands

5. Web chat vendors will implement chatbots by either partnering with bot vendors or acquiring bot start-ups. Those that don’t will be left behind

6. Brands who can expose existing self-service functionality (e.g. parcel track and trace) as internal Services/APIs will be able to innovate in digital customer service. By swiftly integrating with messaging and bots, customers will be able to conveniently help themselves using their favourite messaging app

7. Bots will be deployed for customer service on social media platforms such as twitter, but I can see it taking a while for brands to trust the bots before they do this. Don’t believe me? Just ask Microsoft….

8. Customer service organisations will need to develop a core competency in Text Analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) as all these new text based channels come on stream in addition to SMS, email, web chat and social media.

What do you think about the potential influence of bots? Do you have any predictions of your own? If so please leave a comment below.

Written by Simon Frank.

Shop Direct and Webhelp partnership shortlisted for two major retail awards

Shop Direct and Webhelp have been shortlisted in two categories at the prestigious Retail Week Customer Experience awards, to be held on the 23 June 2016 at The Hilton on Park Lane.

As finalists in the categories of ‘customer service initiative’ and ‘customer experience team of the year,’ the partnership has been recognised for service delivery and team effort in the early stages of what is a long-term digital transformation programme for Shop Direct.

Shop Direct began working with Webhelp in August 2015, having chosen to partner with the business process outsourcer primarily for its digital, insight and analytics capability. Highlights from the relationship so far have included the addition of greater self-serve options for Shop Directs customers and a 100% increase in the amount of digital contacts managed.

David Turner, CEO at Webhelp UK, said: “When we began working in partnership with Shop Direct last year we were given the challenge of transforming to serve the needs of Shop Direct’s customers. Their customers want to shop when, where and how it suits them, and this extends to the customer service experience. To meet their expectations, we need to provide a seamless omnichannel customer contact experience. This is our sweet spot.

“It’s great to see the progress made by both partners to date towards achieving this vision, and for this progress to be recognised through being shortlisted in the Retail Week Customer Experience awards.”


Press information:

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com

Technology Can Help Reduce Insurance Fraud

In my past few blogs I have explored how the insurance industry is radically changing in the UK. In particular car insurance is leading the way with telematic technology allowing insurance companies to monitor customer behaviour in real time so that premiums can be more effectively priced.

In theory all this works for both customer and insurer. The insurance company gets a much more accurate picture of the risk they are taking on and the customer pays a realistic premium targeted at themselves, rather than just averaging out every different type of customer to create a premium that includes risky drivers.

The UK now has almost half a million cars with telematic devices and last year the growth in use was 40%. Globally we are still only talking about 1.5% of all insurance policies, but its growing fast. Insurance companies want to price their risk more effectively and, as I described in my last blog, this technology creates a win-win situation.

But there is an additional area where this technology helps industry – reducing fraud. The car insurance business has had to tolerate fraud since day one, from repairs being quoted at an inflated price to deliberate ‘cash for crash’ situations. In many cases, it is hard to refuse to pay a claim when there are no witnesses to an accident and when an accident is fraudulent there are unlikely to be witnesses.

Claims account for around 80% of insurance company costs. If fraudulent claims can be stamped out then premiums for genuine customers can be priced more realistically and handled more effectively.

Telematics devices capture an enormous amount of information about the behaviour of the driver, from acceleration to braking to cornering and speed. Most telematics devices can detect if a crash has occurred and will automatically inform the emergency services.

All this information about how the car has been used can be critical when a customer makes a claim. The insurer can crosscheck what the customer says against what really happened, because they can play back the data like a video recording of the accident. If medical claims are made against the insurance company, they can easily determine if the injuries are consistent with the recorded details of a crash.

This constant innovation in insurance is not only improving the customer experience and reducing premium prices, but making it easier to spot fraud too. 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.

Have you tried a telematic insurance system in your car? How has the experience been compared to your old car insurance? Please leave a comment below.

DFS Achieves Sales Success With Omnichannel Strategy

Furniture retailer DFS recently announced impressive sales growth of 17.7% for the past year. This success was achieved thanks to a three-pronged business strategy:

1. Create ranges with broader appeal

2. Expand physical presence – open more stores

3. Develop the omnichannel

The first two strategies are quite standard for any retailer, particularly in furniture, which is not frequently purchased. It’s important to appeal to a broad range of customers or else your brand becomes defined in a certain way. It’s also important to have any many retail outlets as your business can afford to support.

But I was really interested to see that the key business development strategy of DFS includes the use of omnichannel retailand with a boost in sales of almost 18% there is a clear argument that their strategy is working.

DFS overhauled the customer journey with a focus on omnichannel. Some highlights of the changes were:

1. Adding online order tracking to their website so customers always know where their products are.

2. Creating a new online product viewer on the website to offer a much better visual experience when shopping online.

3. Rolling out in-store technology that allows customers to see products in many more situations and colour ranges.

Their focus has not just been about making the online shopping experience better – although their website now accounts for about 40% of all furniture-related web traffic in the UK – but also improving the in-store experience. Giving employees and customers the ability to visualise the furniture they can see in entirely different surroundings adds to the in-store experience and clearly is helping to drive sales.

It’s great to hear success stories from companies like DFS, showing that an intelligent use of the omnichannel can translate into genuine business growth. http://internetretailing.net/2016/03/dfs-focuses-omnichannel-reports-ecommerce

[Free Download] – UK Car Insurance Customer Experience League Tables

Want to know how the UK's leading car insurance providers performed in a recent customer experience survey?

Webhelp recently commissioned a survey asking 1000 car insurance customers to rate their current providers customer experience and the results are now in.

Eighteen questions were asked in total, all of which were categorised under the following criteria:

  • Service - What customers said about their providers quality of service, support and trust...
  • Engagement - How motivated and likely are customers to recommend their insurance provider to others...
  • Price - What are customers perceptions when it comes to value for money with their current provider...

We then used the data to create our own 'UK Car Insurance Customer Experience League Table’.

To find out who came Top and Bottom in our league tables, and to access the complete interactive league table plus the full survey report containing even more insights, just click here!

Bottom Ten League Table