Jeremy Pope, Senior Director of Consumer & Policy Services, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
It is no secret consumers and organizations have created a rising demand over the years for self-service tools and technologies to improve efficiency and enhance convenience. In the late 1990’s, financial institutions were considered some of the early pioneers attempting to entice reluctant consumers to utilize ATMs for sensitive transactions such as banking deposits. After years of marketing, increased usage and an overall positive experience, consumers now prefer ATMs, mobile smartphones and online banking platforms over traditional brick and mortar banking centers.
The property and casualty industry is following a similar course as it strives to meet the evolving self-service demands of today’s technologically savvy consumer. We are finding that consumers who once preferred to shop and service their insurance policies with a visit to a local insurance agent’s office are now looking for opportunities to meet their needs through various technologies and self-service tools.
Consumers are now demanding such services as electronic document delivery, real-time product changes, online claim filing, and video and chat capabilities accessible through various mobile platforms. While property and casualty organizations strive to meet self-service needs, it is imperative the industry delivers solutions to the marketplace that exude an overall consumer-centric experience. This is especially true for the property and casualty market, which is considered somewhat complex and does not have a reputation among consumers for being exciting or trendy.
Customers today want to be in control of their servicing experience but do not want technology to create roadblocks along the way. Such roadblocks can stymie organizations’ self-service strategic efforts that are not implemented with great consideration and unwavering tenacity. It’s also important to acknowledge that self-service technologies remove traditional human oriented touch points from the customer journey. Successful organizations must find ways to fill the gaps to ensure self-service tools include relationship deepening components to help consumers feel connected and loyal to the brand, products, or services, they purchase.
While property and casualty organizations strive to meet self-service needs, it is imperative the industry delivers solutions to the marketplace that exude an overall consumer-centric experience
Today’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies integrated with advanced Interative Voice Response (IVR) systems have allowed organizations to transform the customer phone experience into a more customized and personable transaction. Recognizing originating phone numbers and authenticating customers through biometrics are technologies many organizations have implemented to alleviate consumer frustration with self-service telephone tools.
In addition to meeting customer needs, self-service advancements provide great operational and fiscal benefits for the organization. For example, our company has discovered that the more servicing channels we make available to consumers, the more transactional volumes we are able to offload or level out as appropriate between the various self-service channels (such as online, mobile and phone channels).
This is specifically critical during a catastrophe response. Following such an event, our organization expects a significant surge of volume as policyholders seek to file claims or ask general questions regarding their policy. Implementing self-service channels has helped offer a convenient and efficient customer experience while reducing the operational burden of surged volumes amongst various internal departments which impact the customer experience.
As consumer needs and preferences continue to evolve within the self-service arena, integration across various multi-channel platforms within organizations will become more prelavant and quite frankly, essential. The property and casualty insurance industry has made great strides transitioning traditional servicing channels to allow customers to self-serve their policies for routine transactions and for critical needs during a catastrophe. Ensuring customers feel connected through technology will continue to be an evolving roadmap, but one we must not lose sight of as an industry.
Implementing a self-service roadmap throughout an organization requires tweaking and adjustments along the way to ensure maximum utilization and customer satisfaction. To help gauge success, organizations must solicit and analyze continuous feedback from their customer base. Customer satisfaction has been included as part of our strategic plan and corporate goals, which has helped us refine our corporate culture over the years. We have a formal Voice of Customer Program (VoC) to help us identify and analyze consumer trends and preferences. We utilize this feedback on a routine basis to help validate the self-service offerings we make available to our customers today, as well as to help prioritize future advancements and the technologies of tomorrow.
Strategy surrounding the customer experience must remain nimble and flexible as consumer trends are constantly changing and becoming more and more complex. Throughout this exciting journey, the property and casualty insurance industry has the challenge of transitioning complex products and fitting them into various self-service applications, without losing the personal connection that is critical for customer satisfaction and our success.