Too often brands start with the wrong question: “which channel shall we engage our customers on?” The real question is: “what channels do our customers want to engage us on?” The answer to that question varies depending on both the customer and the type of engagement and therefore brands – particularly Insurance brands – need to be flexible enough to engage on a range of different channels – consistently and within the etiquette boundaries of each.
Every customer is unique and in their journey through the various touchpoints with a brand could require engagement on many different channels. Pushing your customers into inappropriate or inconvenient avenues for conversation will aggravate them and weaken your bond with them. Conversely, by being adept at switching from one medium to another so as to meet them where they want to be – rather than where you want them to be – greatly strengthens your relationship.
Here are some examples of different ways customers might want to engage their insurance provider:
- Social Media: Twitter or Facebook are very efficient channels for quickly and conveniently answering customers’ simple questions in a way that still provides an electronic trail, but is mobile-friendly and asynchronous (i.e. not in real time). Generally, if a customer engages an insurance brand on this medium then it is safe to assume that they are happy for the conversation to continue there. However, if a brand is uncomfortable using this channel (for confidentiality or legal reasons) then social is also a place where another avenue can be brokered. While asynchronous, industry standards on response times have settled around two-three hours.
- Email: With modern marketing automation systems, email has turbo-boosted its efficiency and effectiveness as a 1-2-many marketing channel that delivers huge amounts of ROI data. However, in addition it is also a very effective medium for 1-2-1 communication for document delivery, renewal reminders, policy updates and so on. A customer might also prefer this medium to paper for environmental reasons and this should be respected.
- Phone: The insurance business can involve a far higher proportion of sensitive conversations with customers than other industries – surrounding delicate topics such as natural disaster, bereavement or injury. These should be handled by phone as most customers would prefer empathetic and experienced agents to ease difficult situations and to provide critical answers in real time. But the timing of this can be brokered by social media or email and at these times customers should not be placed in old fashioned holding patterns.
- Paper-based: Certainly there is very much still a role for paper-based communications, either for more senior customers who prefer paper for its filing-friendliness and paper-trail; or more generally for legal purposes. Postal services such as registered post provide that same delivery time-stamp that email can provide and thus the “paper-trail” is as robust as with electronic forms. While electronic signature products proliferate there remains a great deal of authority vested in an inked signature. Furthermore, in terms of marketing and branding, a glossy print-production still conveys an air of gravitas and significance to valuable policy documents and service guides.
The success factor here is flexibility and a corporate culture that puts the customer first. Ideally the same customer service agents will meet the customer across most of these channels but that isn’t always logistically possible. Regardless, the brand’s voice needs to remain consistent and protocols must be uniform across all these avenues. Crucially, the more seamless this connection is the stronger the customer relationship in a competitive and churn-ridden marketplace.
Join Fuji Xerox at the 9th Annual FST Media Technology and Innovation – The Future of Insurance event to hear about how insurance companies are harnessing different channels to drive customer centricity. To find out more visit https://fst.net.au/conferences/9th-annual-technology-innovation-future-insurance