The difference between a good and a poor customer journey has always been clear, and the businesses on the ‘poor’ end of the spectrum usually pay the price. This is as true for insurance as it is for any other customer-facing industry. One common thread between good and bad customer service is consumer-to-business communication — people simply don’t like spending time on the phone, on hold, with a relentless ‘your business is important to us’ droning on in-between renditions of Opus Number One. In fact, a recent study found that 59 percent of consumers avoid calling companies for this very reason.
Modern messaging channels, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS/text messaging, even Instagram, are transforming the way people interact with businesses on this customer journey. These channels combine accuracy with the personability of human interaction, while also providing the flexibility and convenience customers want. So what does this mean for the insurance industry? No more wait times, no more endless transfers to answer a simple question, and no more dropped calls, to start. To dive deeper into these differences, let’s take a look at what a customer’s experience might look like with – and without – modern messaging channels:
A day in the life with Ted, with and without a digital messaging experience
The old way:
Ted rubs his neck as he holds his phone up to his ear. He wants to change his insurance provider and has one simple question about deductibles. Thirty minutes later, he’s still on hold. Finally, a representative comes on the line. Ted asks his question and the representative tells him, “Sorry, you’ve been transferred to the wrong department, please hold while I transfer your call.” The process continues on, Ted being bounced from department to department, until he has wasted more than an hour of his day.
The new way:
While at work, Ted decides to use the new text messaging feature offered by a prospective insurance provider. He messages his query and puts his phone down, expecting a long wait time for a representative to answer. Within seconds, Ted has received a response from a chatbot, who prepares him to message with a live agent. Minutes later, while he went on with his work, he messages back and forth with the live agent at his own pace and has his answer on his phone for later reference, allowing Ted to get back to work, frustration free.
The old way:
The unthinkable has happened. Ted was driving home from a late night at work and had to brake suddenly to avoid a dog on the road. The car following Ted collided with the back of his car. The collision was minor and no injuries were sustained. Ted knows he is technically at fault and is calling his insurance provider to ask questions about making a claim. After finally getting connected, he struggles to explain the damage over the phone, or even to make out exactly where the accident happened. If only he could send them his location, or a live image of the damage…
The new way:
Minutes after the collision, once Ted and the other party had exchanged details and had a chance to calm down, Ted pulls up the previous messaging thread and just continues messaging his new insurance. Rich messaging lets him share a photo, his exact location, and get a link to a YouTube video that explains the next steps for handling the claim. Ted feels at-ease despite the situation, knowing everything there is to know about filing a claim with minimal hassle.
The old way:
Ted has PPO health insurance and wants to find a new dentist within his insurer’s network. It’s 4:30PM. He picks up the phone to call and confirm his insurer’s approval at the dentist of his choice. An automated phone menu lays out the options for Ted to navigate his call, ‘press one for new claims, press two for in-process claims…’ As Ted waits to hear out the menu options, his mind wanders. He missed the option he needed. He listens to the options again. Ted is confused — the option he expected to find isn’t there. Ted hits a random option to speak with anyone who might be able to help him. He then spends another forty-five minutes on the phone, being bounced from representative to representative, repeating account information he already provided to the IVR. Finally, he gets his answer. It’s now 5:30PM. He calls his new dentist, an automated message informs Ted that the dentist office is now closed. Ted is disappointed and sore.
The new way:
Using his insurer’s messaging channel, Ted is able to ask specific questions about his coverage and verify his insurance is accepted at his desired dentist office within minutes. He doesn’t need to repeat his account information, or actively wait on hold. The time it takes the messaging agent to respond is time he can use to go on with his day. The insurance agent answers his questions quickly and clearly, leaving no room for confusion – and leaving a referenceable trace of the information on his phone. It’s now only 4:45PM and Ted calls the dentist’s office, securing an appointment just before they close. Ted smiles, then winces; the messaging system made it easier for him to secure a dentist appointment to address his nagging toothache.
6 months later, a first payment is due. Ted receives a message allowing him to quickly approve the payment with his card on file. No more emails that end up in spam, or logging into a web portal only to struggle with remembering his password, or having to keep an app on his phone for the few times a year he needs service from his insurance…
Modern messaging that deploys asynchronous messaging through digital and social channels enables financial institutions and other businesses to provide customers with the personalized service they deserve on their schedule. Customers report that the ability to extend their personal modes of communication to the business realm would greatly improve their customer service experience, as well as their perception of the company. This, combined with the fact that these messaging systems are already used for private communication, makes it surprising that they’re not being used to connect people in the business world. Insurance companies who want to be ahead of the digital transformation curve should consider combining modern messaging channels on one convenient, digital customer service platform.