Consistency must be the customer service buzzword in insurance
Providing consistent accurate information when responding to queries is one of the key elements of good customer service. This is particularly important within regulated sectors such as insurance where - to avoid risk and ensure compliance - you need to be able to demonstrate that you provided customers with the same, approved information however they made contact. Ensuring consistent answers is also more efficient because people who’ve been given conflicting information, will most likely make contact again - adding to the number of queries the customer service team has to handle.
For these reasons, a major focus of the Eptica Insurance Multichannel Customer Experience Study was to measure the consistency and channel choice offered by US insurers. The research analyzed the customer’s experience by evaluating 100 leading U.S. insurers, across ten sectors, on their ability to provide answers to routine questions via email, the web, chat, Facebook and Twitter. 1,000 consumers were also polled on how long they were willing to wait for responses on these channels.
Alarmingly, among the insurers in the sample, just one responded to queries on all four channels of email, chat, Facebook and Twitter. 14% answered on no channels at all, while a third (32%) replied on just one – hardly the multichannel experience that customers want. This is despite the fact that the majority offered these channels:
- 76% advertised email contact (60% responded)
- 88% were present on Facebook (53% responded)
- 84% had a Twitter handle (43% responded)
- 17% claimed to have web chat (5% had it operational when tested)
It seems that a large number of customer queries are simply falling through the gaps and not getting a response.
Of the ten insurance sectors the study explored there were huge differences in response rates. For example, pet insurance companies answered 53% of questions while others performed less well - auto and home responded to 25% of queries and health only 18%.
Inconsistency and a push to switch channels
Particularly concerning was the revelation that 68% of responses which came via email, Twitter and Facebook actually asked the researcher to change channels and switch to using the phone instead – and this was for some pretty basic queries. This is very inefficient and way out of step with what consumers want; in a competitive market such as insurance customers will choose to buy from companies that can offer them the channel choice they want.
No companies provided consistent answers across all four channels (email, Twitter, Facebook and chat); while nearly half (47%) of insurers failed to provide consistent answers between any channels at all. Just 6% were consistent on three channels, and the one health insurer that answered on four channels, failed to deliver consistent answers.
The upshot of all this is that a consumer making contact on email or Twitter for example, would receive different responses, pointing to an inefficient silo-based approach to service. This lack of knowledge sharing within insurers pushes up costs and confuses customers. Unsatisfied customers will either make contact again (usually via a more expensive channel such as the phone) or worse - simply go elsewhere.
Insurance is an incredibly competitive sector and companies must offer consistent, accurate, multichannel customer service. However, too many insurers seem to be adopting a channel by channel, unintegrated approach, pushing the phone above everything else. There’s a big need to expand the range and resources they offer – including making sure that different channels work together and are supported by a shared knowledgebase. As well as improving consistency, this will help them boost efficiency and win and retain more customers.
To read the full Eptica Insurance Multichannel Customer Experience Study, click here.