Are insurance companies meeting the CX quality expectations of today’s consumers?
Everyone involved in customer experience knows that customers are becoming more demanding, and are continually expecting more from their interactions with organizations. They want quality conversations with brands if they are to remain loyal for the long term. This is equally true, whatever sector you operate in as shown by the findings of Eptica’s 2017 Insurance Customer Conversations study. But unfortunately, the study also found that many insurers are failing to rise to the challenge.
What do consumers expect?
This year in the study we focused on the theme of quality conversations and whether they were being delivered by insurers. We asked 1,000 consumers about their experience of interacting with insurance companies. At the outset, nearly three quarters (72%) said that they are growing more demanding about the service they expect from insurers.
91% expect a response that is fast and accurate - as standard. That means delivering a quick, relevant answer, whatever the channel, needs to be a given for any interaction. But consumers also want to go beyond these basic requirements: they want to have high quality conversations, with 28% listing context as the most important factor in their exchanges, followed by empathy (27%) and personalization (24%).
What are insurers delivering?
To see how insurers measure up, the study analyzed the quality of conversations provided by 20 leading UK insurers. It evaluated their responses to five routine questions sent via email, social media and chat. These were assessed against five important criteria:
- Speed – how quickly was the response provided? Higher marks were awarded for faster responses.
- Relevance – how relevant was the response and did it answer the question?
- Context – did it show understanding of the whole question or respond solely to part of it?
- Personalization – was it personalized to the respondent?
- Empathy – did it show real empathy with the consumer’s needs?
Each response was scored on a scale of 0-5 for each criteria. For example, to receive 5 out of 5 (100%) for relevance it had to provide a full reply that successfully answered the question, without a consumer having to send a follow-up message or visit another channel. Results were then aggregated and expressed as a percentage, for each channel and quality criteria.
When considering the findings, it’s important to appreciate that only 40% of all questions asked were answered. This in itself shows an immediate gap between the best and the worst when it comes to quality. To take account of these low response rates the evaluation is therefore only based on those insurers who did respond to a question - so it automatically focuses on the ‘best’ performers.
Looking at the results, Facebook (78%) and Twitter (71%) achieved the highest overall ratings followed by email (62%) and chat (53%). Quality scores for individual responses on different channels and different criteria ranged from 44% to 96% - showing a large gulf between those insurers that are meeting customer needs and others that are struggling.
The quality chasm
The key findings of the study are that there is an obvious gap between what consumers want and what companies are delivering. For example, 28% of consumers said context was the most important factor in a conversation, yet in the evaluation the insurers that responded to questions scored just over half on chat (53%) and 58% on Twitter and email for providing contextual answers. Facebook scored 78%.
Another factor that stood out was the poor showing of email. Despite having no limits on the lengths of responses that can be sent (unlike the 140 characters of Twitter) it scored lower for empathy, context and personalization. Chat scored lowest against these three criteria, despite its real-time, conversational nature. This points to chat agents not using the channel to its full ability – perhaps because they are overwhelmed with concurrent chats or because of a lack of consistent knowledge to underpin their answers.
When it comes to speed of response, each channel was assessed on a different scale based on consumers expectations, so on Facebook a top score of 5 was awarded for a response within 30 minutes, while for email a 5 equated to an answer within 2 hours. Despite this, Facebook and Twitter led the way, both scoring 90%, while email scored 52% and chat 76%.
Digital transformation has made switching insurance supplier much easier, leading to high levels of customer churn at the same time as expectations are rising. Consumers buying insurance now want much more if they are going to be loyal - with speed and accuracy seen as basic hygiene factors. Insurers therefore need to be able to demonstrate qualities such as empathy, relevance and context if they want to differentiate themselves and drive loyalty. Yet, as the research shows, while some are successfully delivering quality conversations, many others still have a way to go.