New research from data insight specialist Consumer Intelligence reveals people are more likely to have heard from fast food companies and their gym than their insurance company. Banks were almost twice as likely to have pro-actively got in touch with their customers.
A quick look on Twitter or Facebook reveals a constant stream of customer complaints that they are not hearing anything, not even an acknowledgement, when making travel or other claims. Policyholders are posting photos and video on social media which demonstrate the hold times can be 2-3 hours in some cases. Not good. Of course, the situation regarding home working and distancing in an office space obviously makes normal call centre operations impossible, but one broker Brightside, has already outsourced its entire operation to a WFH environment.
The overall message from the insurance industry has been “don’t call us unless it’s urgent,” which is fine, but won’t assuage consumer anger. Many companies have been leading the way with automated chatbots, AI assistants and more – now is perhaps the time to publicise those new features and make app portals much more than simple Manage My Details tools.
Last Friday, the Financial Conduct Authority wrote to insurance CEOs in an effort to ensure the sector is doing everything it can to support its customers when many are now vulnerable because of the coronavirus pandemic. It also warned customers’ behaviours would change because of it, such as having to keep work items at home and expected that claims wouldn’t be rejected because for reasons out of their control.
As part of the response, the Government has announced that mortgage providers will be offering payment holidays to customers facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. However, when Consumer Intelligence asked homeowners whether their mortgage provider had been in touch with them about the matter, only 47% say they have been contacted.
The poll also revealed that 39% of people due to renew their insurance in the coming month were worried about not being able to afford the premium. Half of them had already discussed their concern with their insurance provider, with reports of the response ranging from “dreadful” to “good” and “proactive”.
Consumer Intelligence CEO, Ian Hughes says: “In a crisis, communication is key. At this point in time, consumers need information and clarity from their service providers, and they need empathy. Many will face financial hardship in the coming weeks and months, and people are worrying about how they are going to survive. It is imperative that all sectors maintain open lines of communication to provide peace of mind for their customers at this very difficult time. Consumers have long memories.”
The poll also underscored that people can feel differently about the meat of the message and the means of its delivery. Some 58% of respondents said they were impressed by the UK Government’s providing of information and updates – but only 38% were impressed with the Government’s preparations for a UK outbreak.