Maybe it’s the fickle, ever-scrolling nature of the internet, but confidence in many big brand names seems to be declining. From Facebook’s fake news to middle England turning its back on the staid clothing at M&S, consumers are complaining more, or deserting companies that disappoint them.
Insurance isn’t exempt from this decline in public trust. The Institute of Customer Service recently found that customer satisfaction with insurance companies in the UK is declining. Today, research by YouGov for Pegasystems highlights a root cause of the problem – that of how insurance companies communicate with their existing customers.
The study suggests the effect of poor customer services systems is undermining insurers’ reputation for customer service and attempts to offer more personalised services that promote customer retention.
Until only a few years ago, when contacting an insurance provider almost all interactions took place via a contact centre using a landline phone, however the study found that now when interacting with an insurer’s customer service team, only 53% of people chose to use a single form of communication, reflecting current day preferences for 24/7 availability across all forms of communication, e.g. phone/email/website. In fact, a growing number of people (16%) chose to move their activity from one form of communication to another to resolve a single issue e.g. from email to phone, in person to a website etc.
Unfortunately, insurers deal with this need to switch between communication channels badly with many respondents experiencing a severely disjointed experience. Nearly two thirds (60%) of respondents who had chosen to switch from one form of communication to another reported that that they had to repeat and re-enter information that they had already provided, specifically about the reason they contacted the customer service team.
Further exacerbating the bad experience of channel switching, only 43% of individuals surveyed went on to say they felt like they were then treated as an individual customer, with the company protecting and interacting with them on each policy during crucial life events, such as moving home, marriage, or bereavement. etc. Almost a third (30%) of those who had contacted an insurance provider’s customer service team said that they felt like they were given an impersonal service.
Despite evidence that customer service in the insurance industry isn’t up to scratch, when asked about who they want to protect their risks, large insurance brands still dominate, with only 54% of people still preferring to trust them. Interestingly, a quarter (24%) of respondents said that they are now prepared to consider moving to other brands, such as a small niche insurer, new insurtech start-ups, or one of the larger tech firms, such as Google or Amazon.
Commenting on the YouGov study, Tony Tarquini, European Insurance Director, Pegasystems said:
“The findings of the survey underline the need for insurance companies to step up their customer service game. With the plethora of new technologies at insurers’ fingertips it is inexcusable that consumers are still having to waste time repeatedly interacting through insurers’ siloed communications channels into their siloed business organisation to resolve what might be a simple issue with their policy. Powerful Customer Engagement systems, designed with the customer journey and outcome in mind, are here today to prevent that. Insurers are ignoring the fact that the technology is available to implement true omnichannel systems in 90 days – they are simply not making the investment.
“Mass personalised digital service must be integrated into a Customer Engagement system very rapidly so traditional insurers stand a chance of competing with the start-up and large tech companies. Evidence from other industries shows that implementing real time AI in customer service is not a big issue any more. It all seems a solar system away from what customers actually experience from insurers, despite the promises, the hype and the actual existence of the technology to do the job well today.”
“Although customers seem wedded to the established players today, the high latent annoyance with insurers’ bad customer care processes presents a huge threat to their existence. Traditional insurers will see wholesale commercial restructuring similar to what is currently being seen in the retail industry if they don’t respond. Only by concentrating every last effort to up their game in customer service, rather than playing lip service to what customers want, can they stand a chance of staying ahead of new players in the market.”