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Why Insurance Companies Need to Rethink Online Self-Service

by Neal Keene | November 7, 2014 | No Comments

Self-service platforms have a long way to go when it comes to engaging customers.The digital transformation in insurance has allowed consumers to access their policies from a variety of different channels. Policyholders used to have to call or visit an insurance agent in person to get information or make updates to their plans, but now it’s just a matter of pointing and clicking.

However, while digital self-service platforms have become widespread, only 58 percent of consumers say that they’re satisfied with online self-service and only half say they can find the information they really need.

There’s a clear disconnect between what’s available and what consumers want in a self-service platform.

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) say they prefer to get answers to their questions online, but if the platform isn’t intuitive or engaging, they’ll still end up calling a support center.

According to the EY 2013 Global Insurance Digital Survey, “the two biggest drivers of digital strategies are enriching the customer experience and regaining more direct control of the customer relationship – far ahead of attracting prospective customers and increasing sales.  While the cost of acquisition continues to rise, retaining existing customers is an increasing necessity and should be a critical and measurable benefit of any improvement in the customer experience, digitally enabled or otherwise.”

But what would a new kind of digital self-service option look like? And what kind of benefits can they bring the business? Here are three:

1. A Full View of Each Customer

An insurance company’s online self-service solution should be integrated with the data from billing, policy production, marketing and other departments. That way, you can build a comprehensive customer profile that shows transaction history and offers a view of that customer’s individual behavior.

The ability to see profile, product, transaction, billing and behavioral data can allow insurers to personalize the customer experience and build real-time opportunities to serve the right offers and the information that customers need at the right time and through the right channel.

2. Diverse Self-Service Capabilities

You might have a website that allows customers to choose their insurance plans, but do you have an app that can show them their coverage amounts, latest billing amount or other activities with their account? Can they download PDF statements and forms to help renew a policy or expedite an update to their coverage?

A comprehensive self-service platform should be optimized for web and mobile experiences. It should also offer a streamlined billing and payment experience. By allowing customers to manage their customer profiles and accounts online, you can also drastically cut down on the costs of maintaining call centers.

3. Scoring + Engagement = Measurable Outcomes

Today’s modern self-service platform does not promote a passive experience. With real-time scoring and automated decision-making, an insurance company can build targeted screen prompts, offers, notifications or invitations based on a customer’s interactions with the website. By consolidating data from across the organization, carriers have the capability to understand the needs and desires of the customer and drive the desired outcome with digital self-service – whether updating policyholder information, changing coverages or getting a bill.

Targeted engagements, real-time scoring and decision capabilities also offer the ability to improve marketing ROI and drive revenue.

A Customer Experience, Reimagined

We’re still in the early days of what a true customer-engaging, digital self-service platform should look like. However, we do know that high quality data and customer analytics help build the foundation. The more targeted insurers can make their messages, the better customers will understand the value of certain policies and offers. Likewise, with an interactive and helpful self-service experience, customers are likely to feel more loyal to the brand in future.

While many insurers may offer online tools to assist in the customer journey, most still don’t offer the data-driven customer experience that can really set them apart and connect with customers on an individual basis. Until that happens and customers can really find everything they need online, digital self-service will still be thought of as a frustration rather than a convenience.

Want to learn more about taking digital self-service to the next level? Read about what a new kind of platform can do for your business and your customers.

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