This article is by Zviki Ben Ishay, CEO of Lightico and it looks at the customer experience post=Covid, plus how brands can streamline their digital services.
New coronavirus variants threaten to undo any gains of a vaccine campaign, and it looks like we may be living with this virus indefinitely. Meanwhile the economy is in a downturn that may be deepening, and insurance companies must find ways to vie for customer interest.
As a result, there is a tremendous imperative to meet today’s policyholders where they are to ensure more successful insurance claims — despite an uncertain public health and economic outlook.
How are today’s continued challenges impacting consumers’ intent to buy insurance products? How have their preferences for insurance processes changed since the beginning of the pandemic? And most importantly, what can insurance companies do to improve servicing and claims?
To find out, Lightico surveyed 1,385 consumers on March 15, 2022 through an online panel in order to determine consumer experiences, views and expectations for insurance, especially digital lending. The data shows that, while digital insurance has improved during the pandemic, significant gaps remain, and consumer expectations are not being fully met.
There’s No Stopping Digital Trends
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated digital trends like never before. Digitized, remote insurance interactions aren’t a mere stop-gap measure: they’re there to stay. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, 67% of consumers expect their service providers to increase their investment in serving customers remotely going forward. Only 28% want businesses to return to their pre-coronavirus ways.
For the most part, insurance providers have been stepping up to meet these digital demands (though, as we’ll soon see, there is room for improvement). When asked how they have communicated remotely with their insurers over the last six to nine months, 53% say via phone call, 45% via online chat, and 44% through the provider’s website. Interestingly, just 31% used email, perhaps suggesting that this less-instant form of communication is fading in relevance. And fortunately, a mere 1% of customers were required to use fax.
People Are Still Fearful of Face-to-Face Insurance Meetings
While many people have felt “pandemic fatigue”, which is characterized by people becoming complacent about coronavirus restrictions due to burnout, the data says different.
The survey results show that fears surrounding virus transmission are still alive and well. This is understandable given that most of the U.S. (and the world) had yet to be vaccinated against the virus, and new mutations threaten to undermine efforts to bring the pandemic to an end.
As a result, a majority of consumers (79%) remain concerned about going out to meet their insurance agent or provider in person.
Digital Claims is King
Whether for reasons of safety, convenience or both, there’s no doubt that customers prefer filing insurance claims online. According to the survey, 83% of customers say that mobile claims are important or very important to them.
While this preference is near-universal, holding up against the most age groups, not all insurers are providing it. The survey shows that 45% of claims processes are not digital, or only partially digital. This is a significant proportion of claims that go against customer preferences.
In addition, there are real operational costs for failing to digitize claims. Only 19% of customers say it took them less than 24 hours to complete the claims process, from the moment of filing the claim to receiving the final payout. Meanwhile, a dismal 42% of claims processes took over three days to conclude. In today’s world of instant gratification consumer apps and technology, this is unacceptably long.
Put Customers First With Greater Automation and Digitization
If the coronavirus pandemic holds any lesson for insurance companies, it’s that they need to proactively win customers over. Flashy marketing campaigns and attractive prices are important, but they are not everything.
Today’s insurance customer is more digitally savvy than ever. But it’s up to insurance companies to capitalize on this flood of interest. And that means structuring insurance claims processes to be convenient, frictionless, and digital.
As we’ve seen, there is wide variability in insurance companies’ preparedness to serve customers on their terms. By accommodating consumer preferences for digital processes, insurance companies can make sure they are among the leaders, setting the bar for everyone else rather than scrambling to catch up. This is indeed a powerful position to be in.