But there’s more to this requirement: carriers must ensure that interactions remain seamless, no matter how customers choose to connect.
“If I start a chat and talk [the customer]then complete a transaction in an app – that all has to come together,” Shore said.
“This raises the complexity that companies have to navigate when they meet the need for digital [communication]: the ability for all channels to interact and integrate.”
Seamless digital experience
A piecemeal omnichannel experience only causes frustration for customers and maintenance problems for carriers.
Consider a customer looking to file a claim or adjust their policy on a company’s website, says Shore. If the website doesn’t do what the customer wants them to do, they call the 800 number. They have to start from scratch because the customer service representative who answers the call because the customer service representative does not know who they are or what they are trying to do.
“You can only get so far away from them before you have to talk to others. You have to make some decisions and then you come back, and maybe try to do it in the app and start over,” Shore said.
Conversely, a seamless omnichannel experience might involve the customer seeking help online through a chatbot, then being connected to the right agent who can respond to their concern. The agent can initiate the right procedures for the customer on the app or website.
“It’s more than just saying that customers prefer digital because that’s obvious; customers prefer digital, but they also prefer the entire system to work together,” Shore said.
“If you don’t tell your customers, you will lose relevance and face growth and sustainability challenges. This can lead to revenue challenges because you end up writing off customers who don’t match the profile you want.”
Changing customer needs
Nationwide is undistinguished in meeting the rapidly evolving needs of customers. One of the largest carriers in the USit offers a range of personal and commercial insurance policies, including auto, homeowners, pet, farm, and life insurance.
“We’ve seen these changes happening for a while, but the need to address them has been accelerated by COVID-19 and the generational shifts that are coming to our customer bases,” Shore told Insurance Business .
Seamless digital experiences aren’t the only customer trend brought on strongly by the pandemic. Customers also want to feel cared for by their insurers.
“In this time of constant instability, whether it’s the pandemic, social or geopolitical unrest, or economic issues affecting families and business owners, customers are focused on care. They expect the companies they do business with, especially in our category, to take care of them,” Shore said.
“This emotional toll and high expectations of care is something we are very focused on at Nationwide. Our mission calls for us to protect people and businesses with exceptional care.”
Emotional connection with customers
For EVP, Nationwide’s mission of “extraordinary care” can be expressed through the smallest and lowest form.
The company’s fast-growing pet insurance business, for example, began sending handwritten sympathy notes to pet owners who canceled their policies after their beloved animals died.
“We mention your pet by name and express our condolences because we know people love their pets like a family member,” Shore said.
The program sent more than 6,000 condolence notes to bereaved pet owners. Such actions help grow the carrier’s emotional connection with its customers, according to Shore.
“Sure, we can just send a check to say, ‘here’s the coverage for the final vet costs.’ But taking that extra step doesn’t have to be expensive or high tech,” he says.
What are other ways insurance carriers can improve the customer experience? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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