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Study: How insurers can spark enthusiasm in their customers

Cologne | 20. September 2017

While insurance customers nowadays want digital channels, they do not want to do without analogue options for interaction. This poses a challenge to insurers, which have to seamlessly link online and offline channels, as found by a current study from the management consultancy A3A Strategy Consulting.

Digitalisation has fundamentally changed insurance customers’ expectations. To find out what exactly customers want nowadays from their insurers, A3A Strategy Consulting teamed up with adesso AG to conduct an online survey of 212 private German policyholders. The survey aimed to determine how insurers need to adapt their approach to customer contact in order to satisfy their customers in the long term − or even spark their enthusiasm.

The survey’s findings underscore the major importance of digital channels: 61% of the respondents expect to be able to handle each phase of their customer journey through a digital channel. In general, however, they also want various communication options depending on the phase.

Despite all of the hype over digitalisation, the question about which channels insurance customers regard as a given reveals that insurers cannot afford to neglect offline channels. Apart from an insurer’s website, respondents cited in particular such things as telephone hotlines and contact with a local personal advisor. However, the channels that spark enthusiasm in the people who participated in the study are mainly digital. They include live chats for certain phases of the customer journey, apps that make it possible for certain services to be performed independently and self-service portals that enable users to handle simple tasks on their own. The question about irrelevant or even unwanted channels also yielded interesting responses: WhatsApp and social media play only a secondary role for customers in communicating with an insurer.

When asked about their expectations regarding personalised customer experiences, more than half of the people who participated in the study said that options to communicate using their preferred channels spark their enthusiasm. Likewise, more than half of the respondents would also like it if they received personalised rates and services, and if they could have a hand in shaping insurance products according to their needs. In terms of customer service, a quarter of the respondents expect to have a designated contact, while two-fifths would be impressed by a transparent customer history available to all contacts. Nearly 60% of them expect response times of 24 hours nowadays, while almost 70% would be delighted by a response within five hours.

Gradually making sustainable improvements

In light of these findings, the authors of the study have developed recommendations about how insurers can optimise the customer experience for their customers. They propose making gradual and sustainable improvements that extend to all areas of the company. The first step is to achieve the common market standard and to keep pace with rising customer expectations. Only after insurers have done that should they begin coming up with ways to spark customers’ enthusiasm. The final step involves developing elements that are not yet currently seen as important, but which could play a role in future. Following this roadmap ensures the efficient use of limited financial and human resources beginning with those items of greatest importance.

“Insurers need to follow their customers into the digital realm without neglecting analogue channels at the same time. It’s the only way they can create a complete customer experience covering all the bases,” says Burkhard Herold, who heads the Insurance line of business at adesso AG. Gerald Herrmann, an insurance expert at A3A Strategy Consulting, adds, “Customers nowadays expect to be able to switch seamlessly between devices and channels all within one and the same transaction. Inconsistencies with regard to content and statements, or complicated processes with media bridges, negatively impact the customer experience, which is why they should be avoided at all costs.”

The study, titled “Begeisternde Customer Experience in der Versicherungsbranche” [An inspiring customer experience in the insurance industry], was compiled by A3A Strategy Consulting in collaboration with adesso AG and alleato. It can be downloaded from A3A (German version) by clicking on the following link: http://www.a3a-consulting.com/cem-studie/.

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