To build a great customer experience, first build a great customer relationship

Customer needs and expectations are changing. These days, they want a personalized insurance experience, from the moment they request a quote to the resolution of a claim. They want policies and products that resonate with their personal needs, and they want a sincere relationship with their carrier.

Soon, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Experts expect this to happen by the year 2020.

That makes every customer interaction a chance to win or lose future business. Better communication with customers – and faster innovation to meet their needs, especially when it comes to following up on a claim – is at the very heart of digital transformation, and what it will take to be a successful insurer in the 21st century and beyond.

We are closer to our customers than we have ever been before

To look into the future, we have to revisit the past. Consider how the industry has changed. Fifteen years ago, customer interaction was limited: a phone call, a letter or visit to the office. Insurers handled claims processing via paper or fax, maybe email.

In addition, even though field agents could take a digital picture, they would have to download the image in the office and submit via email.

In other words, customers expected the process to take time. They understood why a day might pass before someone returned their call.

With the introduction of social media (Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2005) and the smartphone (2007), that all changed. It opened the door to instantaneous communication. After all, more than 90 percent of us engage with social media regularly. More than 21 percent of Americans do several times a day.

Today, customers can connect with the brands they use via online chat or through social media. When they do, they typically expect an immediate response. When they want to heap praise, customers are most likely to post that praise on Instagram, tagging your company so you might see it.

And you know what? Even then, they hope you’ll notice.

When companies don’t meet expectations, especially when it comes to responding to a request or complaint, 38 percent of customers feel more negative about the brand. A full 60 percent will take unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction, according to research from Millward Brown Digital, commissioned by Lithium Technologies.

If that sounds a little like building a relationship, that’s because it is.

I’ve got a good feeling about this

Customer experience is nothing more than the feeling a customer has about you and your organization. That’s not the same as customer service, though customer service plays a large part in how a client feels about your insurance company.

It comes from the relationship you have with your customer, and you should treat it like a real-world relationship. We build the foundation of relationships mostly on emotion. Good ones on things like care, trust, comfort and joy.

In other words, remember that your customers only want to connect with you. They want to know that you are there for them and have their best interests in mind. Each customer. Individually.

They also want to connect via the channel that’s easiest for them. If you make it easy – and your employees can quickly and accurately access the information they need to help the customer – then you’re giving your customers the experience they expect.

Emphasis on the word “help,” too. Customers are human beings and, while they often know what they want, they sometimes don’t know what they need. Listening to customer needs will allow you to offer insight and expand your relationship with the customer even further.

How do you do this? By making sure your digital transformation strategy includes technology that allows employees to quickly access customer interactions and data in one place – and to review those interactions as a single conversation.

Give them an experience they didn’t expect

To arm your employees with the ability to communicate consistently with customers across multiple channels in real-time, they must be able to access all the information necessary – including information on those past conversations and the channels in which they were conducted – instantaneously. They need a complete view of the customer.

So how do you do that?

By tying together key systems and allowing information to work together. After all, you’ve invested in legacy and modern core systems like the Guidewire InsuranceSuite® to manage key data and operations  ̶  whether that’s managing policy, claims and billing information or information about your customer in a CRM application.

These systems aren’t built to effectively manage critical related content – from documents and forms to notes and emails. And it’s really not their job to do so. A robust content services platform complements those core systems, providing employees with a complete view of the information they need, when and where they need it. It does this by centralizing all types of critical content and connects it to the data in those systems.

When information works together, your ability to predict future needs and understand what that customer really wants grows exponentially. You gain insight about the customer, beyond how they shop, when they purchase and what they buy. You see patterns and predict choices they may make in the near future.

In short, you build a true relationship with the customer and give them an experience they didn’t expect.

And trust us. Your customer will notice.

Want to learn more? Download the eBook Stronger Together: When Guidewire and Hyland work in unison, insurers finally see the whole customer today.

Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane is the global solution marketing manager for Hyland’s insurance vertical. Her mission is to effectively position Hyland as the leading content services platform within the insurance market by sharing best practices that accelerate insurers’ digital strategy across their enterprise . Cara leverages her 19 years’ experience in the content and process automation software industry to help lead Hyland’s insurance market vision and roadmap. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

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