Embracing superior customer experience as a growth driver in the insurance industry

by Anthony Ogutu

Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during and after the customer’s needs are met. Customer service is therefore meeting the needs and desires of any customer.

According to McKinsey, Companies that offer best- in-class customer experiences grow faster and more profitably. To reach this level, insurers must relentlessly improve customer journeys across channels and business functions.

In normal circumstances customers expect good service from the service providers. Some characteristics of the services customers expect include;

  • Promptness: Promises for delivery of services must be on time. Delays and cancellations of service deliveries should be avoided
  • Politeness: Politeness is akin to a lost art. Saying ‘hello’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘sir’, and ‘thank you’ very much’ are demonstrations of good customer service. For a business, displaying good manners is key whether the customer makes a purchase or not.
  • Professionalism: All customers deserve to be treated professionally, which means the use of competence or skill expected of the professional. In normal circumstances professionalism is an indicator to the customer that they are cared for.
  • Personalization: Using the customer’s name is effective in producing loyalty. Customers like the idea that whom they are dealing with knows them on a personal level.

When we look at the factors that are responsible for achieving superior customer experience as a growth driver, we must understand clearly the difference between customer experience and customer service.

Customer experience is how your customers perceive your brand. That perception is the outcome of every engagement a customer has with an organization. It is the grand total of every interaction and experience at every touchpoint in the customer journey. All the experiences from these interactions form customer experience while on the other hand, customer service is the cumulative effort of an organization’s employees, putting in addressing various concerns and issues of customers.

A positive customer experience is crucial to the success of a business due to the fact that a happy customer is one who is likely to become a loyal customer who in turn can enable a business boost its revenue. The best marketing money can buy is a customer who will promote the business, one who is loyal to the company, promotes business through word of mouth marketing, and advocates for the organization’s brand and products or services.

Importance of Customer Experience

A remarkable customer experience is critical to the sustained growth of any business. A positive customer experience promotes loyalty, helps in the retention of customers, and encourages brand advocacy. In today’s business, customers have the power, not the seller. Customers have a plethora of options to choose from at their fingertips plus the resources necessary to educate themselves and make purchases on their own. This is why it is important to provide a remarkable experience and make them want to continue doing business with the organization. Customers are the best resource for an organization for growing brand awareness.

In McKinsey’s research into repairable auto claims in the US, five qualities were key to driving customer satisfaction: employee courtesy, ease of communicating with the insurer, employee knowledge and professionalism, transparency and ease of the process and the speed of the claim settlement.

Measuring Customer Experience

There are various ways of measuring customer experience. Some of these ways are as indicated here below;

i) Analyze customer satisfaction survey results

Using customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis and after meaningful moments throughout the customer journey provides insight into the customer’s experience with the brand and product or service. A great way to measure customer experience is Net Promoter Score or NPS. It measures how likely the customers are to promote the services or products of an organization to their friends, family, and colleagues based on their experiences with the organization. Analysis of NPS from a multiple touch points across the customer journey will indicate what is needed to improve and where an excellent experience is already being provided while at the same time showing customers they are being listened to and care about what they have to say.

ii) Identify the rate of and reasons for customer churn

Churn happens as it is part of doing business. It is therefore important to learn from it when it happens so that it is prevented for happening again. Regular analysis of the churned customers should be done to determine whether the churn rate is increasing or decreasing and the requisite actions to be taken to prevent a similar situation in future.

iii) Ask customers for product or feature requests

A forum can be created for customers to request new products or features to make the offerings more useful and helpful for the problems they are trying to solve. The forum can be shared through survey, social media, or a community page and customers should be given opportunity to proactively offer suggestions.

iv) Analyze customer support ticket trends

Customer support tickets with issues that support representatives work to resolve everyday should be analyzed. If there are recurring issues among the tickets, possible reasons for the hiccups should be reviewed and how solutions can be provided across the board. This will enable the total number of tickets the ticket representatives receive to decrease and at the same time providing a streamlined and enjoyable experience for customers.

Customer Experience Management

This is the process of surveying, analyzing, and enhancing customer interactions with the business. Customer experience monitors customer touch points and evaluates how each related experience can be improved. It is a fundamental component of customer-first strategy because it demonstrates a clear investment in customer needs. By monitoring and enhancing different touch points along the customer journey, the organization will consistently bring more value to users. New users normally want to see results fast, assuring their recent purchase. However, if any additional value is not added over time, these customers may lose interest and look for benefits elsewhere. Customer experience management therefore accounts for these customers and provides programs and features that prevent potential churn.

Making a Great Customer Experience

To make a great customer experience, make a customer journey map, create buyer personas, establish a positive connection with customers, ask for and act on feedback, create helpful content, and build a community. The most important part of creating customer experience is understanding the entire journey a customer makes. Creating a customer journey map will help in understanding every touch point that the organization has with the customers. From there focus can be on how to make each of those touch points a positive experience for the customer.

Once focus on creating positive experiences with the customers is accomplished, the next thing to do is to evaluate the success. Ask for feedback and build a community.

The more contact is made with the audience the easier it will be for the creation of an excellent customer experience and hence the achievement of superior customer experience as a growth driver.

In conclusion, there are four core elements highlighted by McKinsey to a successful approach to excellence in customer experience: inspiration, insights, improvements, and institutionalization.

Inspiration: Create a comprehensive vision for a customer-centric business and operating model with clear targets.

Insights: Develop customer insights and link customer satisfaction to operational key performance indicators and business impact (such as churn and cross-selling).

Improvement: Radically redesign customer journeys from start to finish, using digital elements as the standard.

Institutionalization: Build customer centricity into the organization, changing culture and processes from the front line to the C-suite.

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