by Charles Sybert –
Today, insurance companies are rushing to meet the digital experience demands of the very discerning and digital savvy customer. In the rush, they tend to overlook a cornerstone of marketing – a consistent message. Bringing the digital experience to life requires multiple teams, which can result in differing messages among systems. The differences ran the gamut from the simple inconsistent use of fonts, or incorrect positioning of the company logo, to the more serious offenses like verbiage not carrying the same tone as the brand image. While the miscues can be explained away as being due to technology limitations, or concessions by the product owner to move the project into production, or something to be tackled as a future enhancement. While from a consumer perspective, all they see is the “black dot in the middle of the white paper” and start to question, is this the right company for their business? A consistent message delivered with hyper-personalization drives consumer loyalty and attracts new consumers. We will review some of the most common touchpoints with the consumer and then define methods to enable a consistent message.
Key customer touchpoints
The online experience is one where most insurance companies do reasonably well in ensuring brand cohesiveness. When you look at a typical web site, you will see the same colors, fonts, and wording. But it is essential to take a step further than the website itself and look at each of the components.
- Quoting – When the customer processes a quote, does your website act as a portal into your policy system, or does the experience match the website?
- Chatting – Opening a chat feature, does the chat skin match the rest of the website, or does it look like it was added to the website instead of built-in?
- Mobile – Is the same core functionality available on the mobile device as the website with the same look and feel?
As insurance customers’ demographics continue to go younger, insurance companies need to embrace social media platforms as over 79% of the population has a social media account. This will require a new way of looking at marketing from the traditional 30-second commercial or sponsoring an event.
- Personality – Define the communication style, Wendy’s is known for roasting other social media accounts while others are informational
- Complaints – Define a process for how to address complaints quickly when they are logged on the social media account
- Flexibility – Ensure your messaging matches the platform, i.e., Instagram is a picture while TikTok is a video while remaining true to the brand
- Hyper-Localization– Build your messaging based on the consumer’s location, activities and proximity to landmarks
Documentation is an area that starts to show inconsistency due to the large number, styles, and communication needs. When looking at the documentation, it is more than just the font and size being used but the entire experience that should be hyper-personalized.
- Overall Documentation – Does the wording, style, graphics, and approach used in the proposal package match the claims notification letters?
- Logos and Style – Does your documentation have the same letterhead look, same signature stylization, and same font?
- One-Off Documentation – Items such as proof of insurance, insurance ID cards, etc., often have a different look than the rest of the documentation. Some of this is driven by legal requirements but consider filing a different look and feel with the DOI. Is it possible to move to an online version?
To borrow an adage, it is not what you say it’s how you say it could never be more true when looking to maintain consistent messaging. The customer must feel the same hyper-personalized approach, wording, and focus on all communication.
- Printed Materials – If you compare a policy welcome letter to a billing invoice to a claim settlement letter, do all of them have consistent tones, word usage, communication methods?
- Telephone/Chat – Does your scripted customer responses match your brand image?
- Adjuster – During the claim process, do your adjusters carry the proper message with their communications?
- Hyper-localization – Are you meeting the customer where they physically are and delivering the right messages to help guide the customer?
Internal system will impact the brand image as users of the policy, billing and claims system will adapt and communicate using the vocabulary, processes, and constraints of the system. When servicing the customers, especially in high-stress situations, they will rely upon the screens in front of them to communicate with the customers instead of depending upon training
- Vocabulary – Are standard terms such as insured referred to the same for all systems?
- Processes – Are the processes for meeting the customers’ needs hyper-automated to quickly respond to the customer or clearly laid out?
- Customer-facing – If the systems are exposed to the customer, do they have the brand look and feel, language, and capabilities to meet the customer needs?
Delivering a Consistent Message
Ensuring all communication and touchpoints remain consistent can be daunting, but it is achievable. To make this a reality, a vision must be determined accounting for all communication methods with a sharp focus on every detail.
Develop Customer Personas
Defining the customer is not defining an insurance product’s target demographic but rather understand what types of customers interact with various channels and understand their experience. Once you know the types of customers, you can build the necessary messaging to meet the customer’s terms and location.
- Review your systems – Using the customer persona, understand how the customer passes through the various systems and process handoffs. Do they provide a frictionless experience? Is sufficient information recorded and passed onto the next step?
- Develop persona per demographic – A person accessing the website will have a different focus from someone using the web channel vs. call center vs. agent
- Let the data lead – Too often, staff members think they know the types of consumers instead of guessing, focus on the data and establishing natural groupings
Adjust the Marketing Standards
IT is often provided with a marketing standards word document that is a page or two long with some basic logos attached. When new systems with dynamic capabilities such as chat for communication, predictive analytics to inform the customer of the claims process, or using third-party data to speed the policy quoting process are introduced, the template does not make sense.
- Continually Evolve –As new technology capacities come online, the messaging standards must be updated and continuously evolve. Most standards were developed when mail was the primary method of communication
- Be Directive – Provide clear expectations of how various messaging, branding, and expectations are to be set and maintained
Insurance companies most often interact with their customers at the worst possible time, when the insured has suffered a loss. Insurance companies have one time to impress the insured during the claims process truly, and it starts with the first notice of loss. During this process, two key things happen: reporting the loss and setting the customer’s expectations. This is where messaging and technology play a vital role.
- Understand the customer’s needs – Using the wealth of claims experience, insurance companies can build a predictive model based on the insured and type of loss, prompting the call taker with critical messages. The messaging can range from we can quickly resolve this issue to we understand your concerns, but this will take some time. These messages will ease the insured’s apprehension and sets an excellent tone for prompt resolution.
- Setting the expectations – Throughout the entire process, the insured’s expectations must be appropriately set and managed. If it was a simple glass claim, ensuring the windshield company was on time, or a complex bodily injury explained the details needed. If expectations are appropriately set, the consumer will be more likely to be optimistic about the experience.
Delivering on expectations
Setting expectations is straightforward, but delivering on the expectation will make the customer experience a pleasant one. Generally, it is not people or process that causes the misalignment, but rather technology inconsistencies and process handoffs.
- Research – Talk to your customers through focus groups, one on one interactions, and surveys to understand where the breakdowns are happening. Take each comment and suggestion seriously and determine how/where the process can be fixed. While this is a lot of effort, it will quickly surface the process’s deficiencies to be fixed.
- Empower your staff – Too often, a difference between a happy customer and an upset one is a minor token of goodwill. Empower your team to be able to make small changes. If the customer was canceled due to a 5 dollar payment shortage, empower the staff to write it off, make the customer whole, etc.
Creating a resilient organization that focuses on providing an outstanding customer experience and then bend technology to meet the needs. Too often, technology drives the business instead of enabling business.
- Use Strategic Memory – Leverage the company treasure trove of data to build predictive and analytical models for customer demands. For example, if a customer was in a car wreck with three reported injuries, how impressed would the client be, but if the insurance company were to provide a projected timeline of closing the claim? This would list out all of the things the insured would have to provide, timelines for resolution, and expectations from all parties
- Create a single interface – Create a hyper-personalized experience with the power of portals, micro services, AI, and RPA to build one all-inclusive interface with the systems sitting in the background for both customers and employees. This will provide a single source of information, expectations, and brand settings for all related issues resulting in a pleasant customer experience.
- Simplify the technology stack – Using a multitude of technologies, vended and homegrown products all with their own data needs, processing uniqueness, and limited external interaction reduce the ability to deliver on expectations.
Insurance companies need to continue to invest in the digital experience. However, the focus is required to ensure consistency throughout all channels and methods of communication. Insurance companies rarely make large mistakes to drive away consumers. It is always the small things such as the letter looks different, the EFT wasn’t received when expected, every time the insured speaks with a representative no one understands the problem, etc. It is these small things that create consumer frustration. If you can create a frictionless hyper-personalized experience using existing context notes enhanced through automation and technology, your customer base will remain loyal and continue to grow.