Digital innovations have substantially changed the insurance industry. Among the aspects most profoundly affected are the channels carriers use to engage with their customers.

Many traditional insurers invest significantly in digital capabilities to lower their costs and also acquire, retain and expand valuable customer relationships. Their actions are often based on two core beliefs:

  1. Their customers (especially millennials) want an experience that is more digital.
  2. By building digital capabilities and meeting the needs of more digitally sophisticated customers, they will reduce service costs and increase loyalty.

While these assumptions are true, they fall short of capturing the complexity and nuances of customer engagement.

Accenture Strategy’s multi-industry Global Consumer Pulse Survey found that there are many situations in which customers – even those who are typically more prone to use digital channels – prefer to engage with people. 

Customers prefer human instead of digital at times - Inline

Most insurers know this is true about their own customers. People have a real need for and appreciation of human connections. Customers of all descriptions want to be heard, understood and empowered.

What’s more, as digital creates more opportunities for self-service and automated interaction, insurance companies are more prone to become more impersonal than ever. When customers do make an effort to contact a company representative, it is usually because they have a particularly complicated issue to resolve, or because they are especially frustrated or angry.

These are critical moments that can make customers ardent advocates or vocal ex-customers. What role can digital play in these circumstances, and how can it build satisfaction and loyalty?

Advice and sales are other aspects of insurance where people will continue to play a vital role. As Accenture’s Jean-Francois Gasc has pointed out in his analysis:

“During the next three years around 30 percent of digital sales leads are expected to be finalized by an agent over the phone or by a call center operator. About 27 percent of digital sales leads are likely to be concluded by agents in face-to-face discussions with customers.”

Digital Disconnect in Customer EngagementDigital is a vital component of any company’s go-to-market strategy. But its role is not simply to provide alternative channels and processes. Just as important is its ability to reinforce traditional channels and enable processes that make the insurer’s people more effective.

Insurers need to align their digital capabilities with their customer-facing representatives in order to deliver the optimal channel and service mixes that customers demand.

To learn more, download the report: Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement

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