The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the face-to-face engagement process many insurers (and their customers) have become accustomed to. Events of the past 12 months have accelerated digitalisation and modernisation initiatives to ensure organisations can maintain operational effectiveness with the potential to grow in a more connected environment. The personalised, omnichannel customer journey has become a critical part of the potential for this success.
An international survey has found that 54% of customers now prefer direct or digital channels, up from 38% before the crisis. The ability to self-service their requests and be more in control of their own policy management (to an extent) mean end-users now want insurers to deliver on a more digital-centric engagement model. For their part, insurers must recognise that traditional ways of interacting with customers have evolved to entail more than just face-to-face, email, and telephone calls.
Instead, it is about integrating these with the likes of social media, chat bots, and other elements to deliver a more consistent, unifying customer experience. It is no longer good enough just to offer a variety of channels for customers to reach the insurer on. These channels must ‘talk to’ one another to deliver a level of consistency that is still a challenge for many insurers. The technology has now evolved sufficiently to enable this to happen. But it does require the will to change from a boardroom level down all the way through to the first entry point into the organisation.
Linking physical and digital channels in the new normal must be fundamental to help drive operational success. Call centres and brokers will always be a key part of the value chain. However, this is now enhanced with additional engagement points designed to best serve individual customer needs. And by linking the data generated through these channels, the likes of agents, brokers, and even the executives themselves can gain a better understanding of specific customer needs.
Combining this communication can unlock previously untapped growth potential. So, while attracting new customers will always be part of business strategy, upselling to existing clients with products and services better geared to their immediate requirements must not be neglected. An omnichannel delivery model helps to enable this more effectively.
In such a data-rich environment, upskilling agents to use digital tools more effectively will be vital. Insurers must understand the importance of being able to effectively meet the omnichannel demand from customers. And having an empowered employee base with the skills necessary to do this forms a vital component. Another aspect is the ability to integrate data across existing and newer systems while potentially injecting them with the likes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and even robotic process automation to introduce new layers of customer insights and automation, thereby enhancing the end user experience.
All told, being responsive to an omnichannel customer journey will be one of the cornerstones on which a more modern, agile insurer for the digital world is built.