CX Lessons for General Insurance Brands

22nd September 2021

During a recent discussion with Jon Bowen, Customer Director at Paymentshield and Martin Hill-Wilson, a regular contributor throughout the CX Transparency series, one topic continually seemed to bubble to the surface: what are the current CX challenges and opportunities in the General Insurance sector? And how can businesses exploit or navigate them effectively?

Channel pivoting and omnichannel

Customers are, understandably, hugely dissatisfied when they cannot pivot from channel to channel with ease – or even worse, are prevented from using their channel of choice at all. Enabling your customers to complete outcomes in a way that suits them is essential to customer happiness and loyalty. But an Omnichannel experience does not only create customer happiness – it can also have a positive affect to internal cost agendas. A clever and enjoyable customer journey can lead to reduced costs in far reaching areas of the business too.

Drilling down further in this pressing need to create simple and memorable customer experiences, Jon shared that the immediate priorities and investment for many in the industry will be similar to his: embedding the latest regulations around fair pricing, vulnerable customers, and consumer duty in a way that adds value for the customer.

Quick fact: The FCA’s new Consumer Duty regulation is potentially transformative in terms of how it expects insurance brands to adopt a service design type mindset. As they put it, the new regulation ‘expects firms to be considering consumer outcomes throughout the whole consumer journey right from product design, to delivery, and after sales service.’

Investment in clever technology

Across the broader Atlanta group of insurance brands, Jon shared that the pandemic and lockdown generated a clear uptick in customer contact. People seem to want to spend more time understanding their policies and seek reassurance and confidence in their brand choice.

In line with this trend, Paymentshield’s own contact volumes increased 10% against a customer growth of 3-4% over the same period. However, the resourcing of this was offset by a 26% growth in both interactions and ‘no contact’ journeys. This has freed up customer facing teams to focus on higher impact conversations when things become emotional or complex.

However, this contact strategy requires more than a technology investment. The technology used to support digital journeys needs to be clever, easily integrated and most importantly – well considered. If the digital journey is not great and customers are forced into it, they revert to habit and will re-enter queues for live assistance. This highlights something that has come up again and again throughout the CX Transparency series – investing in tech is not enough, the need to change operating models must also be considered.

Aggregator-led competition

Commoditisation via aggregator led competition embeds a focus on price and cost controls deep into organisational decision making. The subsequent drive to differentiate has been technology-led, and to a lesser degree, a focus on customer experience and all this entails in terms of changing ways of working, decision making and ethos.

My experience is that without introducing new ways of thinking, technology-led strategies are used to simply manage cost. As Jon said at the outset, get the customer experience right and the commercial benefits drop out as a result. However, this mindset shift remains the industry’s greatest challenge.

A clear example of this struggle lies in the approach to demand generation and whether there is enough effort to understand why customers need to make contact. Put another way, it is smarter to reduce failure demand than simply try to automate it. Jon estimated Paymentshield’s failure demand is somewhere between 15-20% – which is actually pretty good. Part of the root cause is that many teams work within their bubble of priorities and metrics which can lead the impression everything is working when in fact, the customer is struggling to make things happen.

Some takeaways

  • Understanding customer needs helps focus on their agenda and priorities – so you are informed enough to deliver exactly the service they want.
  • Seeing the journey across the silos in the same way customers do opens the door to effective customer experience management, ending up with greater focus on servicing value demand instead of wasting time and resource.
  • Contact centres can become a driver for change by capturing and sharing customer insights into what is and is not working across the value chain
  • Get yourself a growth strategy that is built around insight driven intermediaries that help your business with decision making and creating actual change where needed.

Listen to the full CX Transparency series virtual session here.

Sean Keane
Director of Consulting Services


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