Karen WheelerKaren WheelerNovember 2, 2017
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8min352

The insurance sector has become notorious for low customer loyalty and bad Customer Experience.

Research by The Actuary revealed that 27.9 percent of consumers find it the worst sector when it comes to customer service.

This was only made all the more clear in the Institute of Customer Satisfaction’s most recent Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). In its survey of more than 10,000 UK customers, the sector was granted the unenviable accolade of being the only one not to improve its satisfaction index score in the six months leading up to July 2017.

In contrast, other industries like the financial services are consistently showing improved levels of customer satisfaction and engagement. In the recent CSI, three banks (First Direct, Nationwide, and M&S Bank) were ranked in the top ten scoring organisations for customer satisfaction for the first time, challenging retailers who traditionally dominate this area.

So, for an industry that’s long had a bad reputation when it comes to Customer Experience and satisfaction, what do insurance providers need to do to turn things around and keep up with other sectors?

1. Go beyond the remit

Like banks, insurers operate in a highly competitive environment and customers are faced with an overwhelming amount of choices. However, the truth is that customers often base their choice on price alone. According to research by Marks & Spencer, 95 percent of respondents stated that price was one of the most important factors when deciding which insurance provider to choose.

The average customer’s level of engagement with their insurer is scarce. Typically, a person will only make contact when they need to make a claim, or renew a policy. To make matters worse, making a claim tends to happen at a point of crisis, for example: theft, damage, or loss – when people are, understandably, feeling upset, angry, or worried about their possessions, health, or family.

These factors mean insurers need to work harder than most to create a positive Customer Experience, and a good way to do this is by diversifying their offerings outside of their remit.

It’s time providers found new reasons to be a part of customers’ lives, moved away from being perceived simply as a point of contact during a time of crisis or renewal, and became a provider which offers ongoing support to – and engagement with – customers. For example, thinking beyond the traditional, physical products insurance policies cover – homes, cars, phones – to offer solutions that can help customers in other ways.

2. Protect their online identity

A policy offers peace of mind. Many people take out insurance policies and never need to make a claim. Consumers simply feel better knowing that should disaster strike, they have the right support in place to help them. And it isn’t just physical possessions that people want to protect these days.

With cyber security scandals hitting the headlines every week, consumers are increasingly aware of – and worried about – protecting their online identity.  According to research by Callcredit Information Group, 66 percent of consumers perceive the risk of identity theft and online fraud as one of their biggest concerns around sharing personal information online.

So when you consider the common perception consumers have of their insurers is as ‘protectors’, it’s clear there is an opportunity for them to help customers to prevent and detect such fraud incidents before they have even occurred – and help assist and resolve issues if they do arise.

For example, by providing cyber prevention and detection services that continually monitor their customers’ activity online and flagging incidents when they’re at risk. By doing so they can offer a beneficial service and solution that increases engagement.

3. Embrace digital transformation

We’re in a world where we live through our devices, so to improve the Customer Experience insurers clearly need to keep pace with the digital age. But, there’s still some way to go. A recent survey by Eptica found that the UK’s leading insurance companies fail to accurately answer more than two thirds (68 percent) of routine questions asked through the web, email, Twitter, and Facebook.

Looking to the US for inspiration, insurers should take note of digital insurer Lemonade, which is making waves for its digital-first, fuss-free approach to claims. At the start of 2017, its virtual assistant Jim set a world record as it reviewed, processed, and paid a claim in three seconds – with no paperwork. If all insurers can aim to deliver this level of service, which brings cost and time-saving benefits to consumers, this could lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and advocacy.

In the UK however, it’s the financial services companies doing this particularly well, with digital bank Atom leading the charge. In a clear sign that Atom wants to offer its customers something different, it acquired software company Grasp, which specialises in games and virtual reality development, to improve its digital platforms.

Atom’s app lets customers personalise their experience by choosing a logo, name, and colours. By allowing them to adapt the interface to suit their personal preferences, it makes the banking experience truly unique and improves customer engagement.

Insurance is often perceived as a necessity in life. It’s not particularly enjoyable but it’s always needed. To improve their Customer Experience, insurers need to think beyond their current offerings and find other ways that they can add value to consumers’ lives. If they do so, they might stand a chance of turning their reputation around.


Karen WheelerKaren WheelerJuly 19, 2017
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9min126

The banking industry, perhaps more than any other, has seen the most change from the digital revolution of the past decade. Traditionally, in-branch visits were the first port of call for customer when it came to managing and discussing their finances. But the unstoppable rise of mobile apps means people can now bank wherever, and whenever they please; all they need is a smartphone in the pocket.

There is plenty of evidence to support these trends. The British Banking Association (BBA) found that in-branch visits declined from 476 million in 2011 to 278 million in 2016 – a 32 per cent fall. But money matters can be complicated and sensitive, so it’s clear there will be an ongoing need for both a human and digital service in banking.

So, how can banks deliver this omnichannel experience?

Energise the In-Branch Experience

The good news is customers still value face-to-face conversations with bank employees. This is especially true when it comes to opening a new account; research from Lexis Nexus found that, when it comes to opening an account 61% of UK millennials prefer to do it in person – rather than online.

But with apps available 24/7 – and able to meet most of our everyday banking needs – customers now have less of a reason to go in-branch. So when they do, banks need to capitalise on this and make the experience memorable, valuable and relevant. Crucially, this is an opportunity for banks to enhance relationships with its customers; offering a positive experience that they’ll remember, while introducing them to relevant products and services that can benefit their lives.

One good example is Virgin Money, which last year announced it was opening a ‘game zone’ in its Sheffield branch, with bowling alleys, table football, and a children’s play area. In a statement, Chief Executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia commented, “We wanted to create somewhere people could come together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s time for a better kind of bank and Virgin Money and Sheffield’s new Lounge are here to deliver that.

This demonstrates how banks are seeking to reinvent the in-branch experience through offering new and unexpected services. For some customers, visiting their bank can be akin to visiting the dentist; a necessary but not always pleasant experience. So making the experience as straightforward and relaxed as possible is crucial.

Keep Pace with Customer’s Digital Expectations

 Smartphones have become an integral part of the customer experience in banking. Millennials have very much led the charge for this adoption. According to a new global survey by Legg Mason, almost half of UK millennials want to do their financial planning on a smartphone. Banks are working hard to keep innovating in this area; just having an app is not enough – they need to offer something different in a digital age where we are accustomed to a cycle of upgrades and improvements.

It was only a matter of time before the ‘selfie’ – the most modern of all artforms – became a legitimate part of the customer experience in banking. Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland are all experimenting with biometrics in the security process, allowing consumers to log on to their online accounts by taking a photo.

Challenger bank Atom has also tapped into customers’ expectations for personalisation; letting its customers choose a logo, name and colours to make their app experience unique. By allowing customers to adapt the interface to suit their preferences, Atom claims to “celebrate your individuality in every way”. What’s great about digital banking is its agility, and ability to constantly develop and test functions and services to keep evolving the customer experience.

Add Value in the Era of Self-Service Banking

 At the heart of the omnichannel experience is the seamless linking and integration of on-and-offline channels. Banks need to avoid seeing the channels in isolation; both contribute to the overall perception customers have towards their providers. What’s clear is that both channels are valuable in different ways. Banking apps offer convenience and instant access to customers wherever they are, whereas in-branch is the place where customers go when they want the expertise of the bank’s employees to be a part of the experience.

In the age of self-service banking, to really build customer engagement and encourage loyalty, banks need to offer people products and services which can enhance and add value to their lives in other ways. For example, offering tools to help protect their online identity, not just in banking, but across their whole digital footprint. Or using data-driven marketing to create targeted offers at opportune moments. Another example would be push notifications highlighting the bank’s travel insurance product when the customer has just booked a holiday.

The pace of change in banking shows no sign of abating and research by the consultancy Caci estimates the number of branch visits is forecast to drop to 268m by 2020, while mobile app usage is on track to more than double to 2.3bn. For banks to succeed in a competitive industry, they will need to offer valuable interactions across all platforms, engaging customers with their products and services and seeking new ways to become more valuable in their everyday lives.

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