Insurers struggling to connect with customer service
The internet and digital technology are transforming the UK insurance market. Greater competition and the rise of price comparison sites are impacting revenues and margins, while customer loyalty is a thing of the past. Consumers are demanding more from their insurers, and want a seamless, high quality experience, however they choose to make contact. In order to enable these meaningful conversations, insurers need to focus on delivering what customers want, efficiently, across a growing number of channels.
How well are the UK’s top insurers meeting these challenges?
To find out, the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study evaluated their performance when it comes to customer service. The Study measured them on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to a question sent via email, Twitter, Facebook and web chat. Part of a larger, multi-sector study of 100 major UK brands, it repeats research that has been carried out over the past five years.
Overall, insurers are successfully answering more questions across every channel, but there are substantial variations between channels and brands. In total, across the web, email and Twitter channels insurers successfully answered 58% of all questions, an 18% increase since 2015.
1. Falling behind on the web
In 2015 insurance was the bottom of ten sectors surveyed when it came to providing answers online. This year performance improved slightly, from 40% to 45%, making it the 9th best industry for web answers. Illustrating the gulf, the best insurer scored 65%, lower than the worst fashion retailer, which scored 70%. Too many insurers made it difficult for consumers to find answers online, either forcing them to use other channels or driving them into the arms of rivals.
2. Email delivers high performance
Email appears to be the focus of customer service investment by insurers, showing a dramatic improvement since 2015. Every insurer offered email to non-customers, and 80% of companies successfully answered the question sent to them – the highest sector out of the whole study. In 2015 just half gave accurate answers.
The fastest response (49 minutes) was quicker than 2015 (57 minutes), yet the slowest (5 days 1 hour 12 minutes), was much slower last year’s 70 hours. This meant that the average time to get a response was 28 hours 4 minutes, up from 20 hours in 2015.
3. Half of tweets going unanswered
Insurers are increasingly present on social media. All ten were on Twitter, and four of these had a specific Twitter handle for customer service. However, just 50% provided a successful reply on the channel. While this is up from 2015’s 30%, it still means half of tweets remain unanswered.
The slowest response took 4 hours – yet the same insurer answered the same question on email in 49 minutes. This demonstrates a lack of joined-up thinking within the company’s customer service department – consumers want to have meaningful conversations on their channel of choice, rather than being penalised for using social media.
4. No thumbs up for Facebook customer service
2016 marked the first year that Facebook was evaluated for customer service, and it appeared less developed than Twitter. While all 60% of insurers that were on Facebook responded to a message, only 40% provided a successful reply. The average response time (1 hour 33 minutes) was faster than email, but Facebook took longer than Twitter to provide answers.
5. Chat goes silent
Chat is a perfect channel for insurance as it enables consumers to have a full, meaningful and real-time conversation with an agent, at a lower cost than over the telephone. Yet the majority of insurers are not dedicating sufficient resources to chat. 40% of companies claimed they offered it (double the numbers of 2015), but just one had it operational when evaluated (the same as last year). Given that chat was able to answer the query within 2 minutes, it shows the potential of the channel – provided more resources are allocated to it.
6. Lack of consistency holds back customer experience
Insurers are answering on more channels than ever before, but appear to be buckling under the strain. Many responses are either unhelpful or – even worse – inconsistent between channels. Only one insurer responded on the four channels of email, chat, Twitter and Facebook. Overall just half of insurers were consistent on two or more channels, and 20% only answered on one channel.
To read more about the findings download the 2016 Eptica Multichannel Insurance Customer Experience Study management report or take a look at our infographic here.