Effective communication is essential in the insurance market. Not only does it help build strong relationships, it also ensures customer fully understand both the products and the process. Yet only a handful of insurance distributors take the opportunity to stand out positively by communicating effectively with their clients.
There are now numerous ways to ‘talk’ to your customers. These range from face to face conversations through to telephone, email, text messages, letters and equally important in this generation, social media such as twitter or face book. But only by using the right kind of communication at the right time for your client will you build a strong relationship.
There are tangible benefits for the companies that get this right. According to E&Y, customers are willing to build long-term relationships with their providers. “However, insurers must improve the effectiveness of their communications, as well as recognise and reward the value of the relationships. That’s what will reduce churn rate and build the loyalty that insurers need today.”
What are the barriers for insurers?
Traditionally, many customers rarely think about their insurance provider until their latest statement arrives. With long term products such as life insurance, that could often mean there is no communication with the customer for years.
So how should this change? Importantly communication must always be relevant and useful for customers; there is no advantage in blanket communication just to tick the ‘customer engagement’ box. There are really only three strategic changes those in the insurance distribution market need to make to really ‘delight’ customers. But they are BIG ones:
- Change from product to customer focus.
- Really understand your customer.
- Have the right technology in place to deliver the communication strategy appropriate for each customer
So although the barriers are not numerous, the road to change is not easy.
How to overcome the barriers for change?
Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but always pays dividends. Here are some ideas of how to make the strategic changes that will radically improve customer service:
Make sure the Organisation is focused on the customer
In our blog Seeing through the eyes of the customer, we highlighted five essential steps needed to ensure customers are at the centre of every decision. These steps include aligning the Organisational structure of a company. Only then is it possible to ensure that the information held about each customer is not duplicated and recorded across multiple areas of the business. For most carriers, uniting all the data into one singular view of the customer is still a vision for the future. Keeping the lines of communication streamlined, relevant and timely is impossible without a singular view and unified approach with each customer.
Understand your customer
Collating customer information is only the first step. Even more important is using the insight to really understand the person. Analysing unique customer information will enable you to personalise messages and make them much more useful and engaging. Keeping communication relevant and informative is crucial to building a long lasting relationship.
The right technology
Traditionally, insurance is about personal relationships. In our blog The danger of the 24/7 Insurance Revolution, we refer to the sales mantra ‘people buy from people’, so it is important to retain the personal element of the market. The right technology must firstly allow you to analyse the data. It must then support a process that recognises the needs of the customer. Good communication doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Technology, tools, and automation can make it easy to keep customers feeling happy and connected.
Customers may want a conversation by phone, email, automated chat systems, text messages or face to face. No one method can satisfy an entire customer base. This means that the chosen technology needs to support multiple communication channels that are all seamlessly integrated. Customers only want to say things once.
A recent article How Insurance Companies are Becoming Customer-Centric Through Emerging Technology quotes a report from McKinsey & Company, the Global Management Consultants. According to the McKinsey research, nine out of ten insurers identified legacy software and infrastructure as barriers to digitisation.
The right technology is only one piece in the jigsaw of effective communication. However, in this age of heightened customer expectations, it is an essential piece.
The rewards of effective communication
An article from Forbes quotes that it can cost five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.
The figures speak for themselves. Quite simply, getting the communication right and building a strong relationship with your customer leads to loyalty and higher revenue growth.