COVID-19 has hit customers and businesses hard. Most businesses overestimated their digital readiness and ability to handle the surge of customer requests triggered by the pandemic, according to a recent survey of 1,200 global business leaders conducted by Pegasystems, Inc.
Specifically, 74% of respondents said the global health crisis exposed more IT gaps than expected, 54% admitted they should have done more to help their customers, and more than a third (36%) said they lost customers because of failed communication.
The good news is that identifying these challenges is the first step toward solving them. Business leaders now realize they should have been much better prepared for the surge of inquires the crisis created.
As the insurance industry continues to rebound and carriers work to rebuild relationships with policyholders, it’s time to think about what comes next.
Change for the Better
With all the issues the pandemic exposed, business leaders have learned a lot, especially when it comes to their customers. Sixty-on percent of business leaders learned more about their customers than they had in the previous two years, according to the Pega survey.
When it comes to future preparedness, most respondents (71%) have accelerated their digital transformation plans to better prepare their organizations for the next potential crisis. And 74% have permanently changed the way they operate.
Looking ahead, there’s an opportunity for carriers not only to recast their approach to servicing their policyholders with a more personal touch, but to lay a new foundation that will help them drive business growth in the future.
A New Approach to Customer Engagement
Most policyholders don’t want to call customer service for a simple question if they can help it. They would rather have their questions resolved digitally – via email, chat, mobile, etc.
The problem is that many carriers provide web form style experiences that can capture data but don’t connect to any of their internal systems. A customer’s “journey” might start with the web, an email or a chat, but when that policyholder can’t get their question answered, they pick up the phone, frustrated.
When front-end digital solutions aren’t built with intelligence to automatically populate key fields or natural language processing to extract meaning, customers have to start over when they finally get an agent on the phone. But it doesn’t have to be so hard.
Instead, when carriers put their policyholders at the center of a transaction, the information follows the customer — whether they switch channels or get transferred — so the agent can pick up exactly where the customer left off to resolve the issue more quickly.
When live agents are required to handle low-value queries like, “when is my next payment due?” it’s not only costly and inefficient for the carrier, it’s unnecessary for the policyholder. On the flip side, when agents are freed up to provide high-value knowledge work, they can spend more quality time with policyholders to solve complex issues. This is more efficient for the policyholder and more profitable for the carrier. They can also get ahead of issues to build stronger relationships with their valuable customers.
Working Toward a Digital-First Future
Upgrading legacy systems is the first step toward preparing for a digital-first future. It will lead to a faster, more efficient and fulfilling experience for agents and customers, especially in today’s virtual business world. Agents working remotely can’t just lean over a cube and ask their peer a question. They need real-time information and guidance at their fingertips in order to do their jobs well.
Pandemic or not, companies need an end-to-end digital foundation to drive better experiences for their agents and policyholders. They need to double down on the service experience, put themselves in their policyholders’ shoes to differentiate their brand, and set themselves up to fend off the next crisis.
Global business leaders recognize that digital transformation is no longer simply nice to have — it’s critical for operating efficiently and building strong relationships with customers. It’s not the future. It’s here to stay.
Article By: Tom Harrington
Source: Property Casualty 360