As it turns out, the “personal touch” might be somewhat overrated, at least when it comes to routine personal lines insurance transactions. Customers don’t always want to talk to a live human being. Many customers – especially younger customers – actually prefer to conduct transactions online. The range of transactions includes paying bills, managing policies (adding a driver or changing an address), printing insurance ID cards, providing first notice of loss (FNOL) and tracking the progress of claims.

In a super-competitive market, we are seeing these technological capabilities becoming more and more of a differentiation point for personal lines carriers. Distinguishing characteristics include an experience that is intuitive and easy to navigate, but also one that is seamless — that is, the customer should be able to jump from mobile to online to an in-person conversation with a call center or agent without having to re-start the process.

Property and casualty insurance tends to be event-driven rather than relationship-driven. That means that, except for basics such as premium payments, most customers have infrequent and irregular interactions with their insurer. The main company website, as well as consumer marketing campaigns, can be used to promote self-service options. The rewards for insurers who get self-service right – in terms of lower costs and increased customer retention – can be considerable.

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