Consumers increasingly expect that companies will anticipate their needs and offer guidance at the right time. Whether it’s advertisements that appear on social media or suggestions for movies based on their streaming habits, today’s consumers have become accustomed to receiving relevant information from the companies they do business with.
Since COVID-19, consumers are turning to online sites for insurance needs 33% more often. And in our recent survey, more than 1 in 3 people reported that they’ve encountered a problem when doing business with an insurance company online. As more of your customers turn to digital channels, you must commit to offering a best-in-class digital experience.
By guiding your customers through their digital journey, you can build your customers’ confidence in their purchasing decision. If your customer struggles or needs additional information, digital tools such as contextual guidance can provide your customers with useful snippets of information at the appropriate moment, essentially giving customers an answer before they even ask the question.
Here are eleven strategies you can implement to improve your digital experience at scale.
- Define Your Overall Mission
Be very clear about why you want to continually improve the digital experience for your customers. Make decisions based on your goal to serve your customers and provide a best-in-class experience regardless of the channel they use to interact with you.
While digital engagement should be your focus, you should also aim to streamline your call center so the experience is quick and efficient for the customers who prefer to call and for the customers who have complex needs. By rising to the challenge to deliver an exceptional experience that your customers expect, you create life-long, loyal customers.
- Understand Your Demographics
Your customer base is diverse. It’s important to understand the demographics of all your subsets of customers.
Understanding these demographics can help you create experiences that are not one-size-fits-all while also ensuring that your products are competitive for your industry.
- Focus On Both The Financial Services And Digital Experience
Your customers now expect the same type of digital experience from you that they get from companies such as Amazon and Netﬂix. Create seamless digital experiences for your customers by focusing on not only the financial services products and service quality but also on the digital experience itself. Newcomers to the market are focused almost entirely on the digital experience to compete, you must focus on digital too.
If you can shave minutes off of a transaction or present customers with what they need with one click, you’ve given them back something truly valuable: time.
- Replicate A High-Touch Experience In A Digital World
Your goal is to humanize the online customer experience, so start with the humans who work with your customers — your customer service representatives. Encourage your representatives to reach out when they encounter questions or friction points from customers. Ask your customer service representatives to explain how they help your customers understand your products and services better, and make the most informed decisions. Then apply those learnings to replicate proactive guidance in the digital space.
And keep listening. In addition to your customer service representatives, ask your customers about their pain points. You can implement web analytics tools to analyze customer behaviors to find areas where you can offer guidance.
- Know Your Data
Work with your data and analytics partners to test and statistically quantify the changes you make in our digital experience to analyze whether or not those changes improve the customer experience.
As you uncover more opportunities to instill confidence and clarity in products and services for your customers, you can continually tweak your rules that trigger proactive guidance. Customers appreciate useful, contextual information proactively provided to them; they become annoyed with time based or out of context interruptions. Understand the customer’s intent and get feedback directly from the customer to verify that it was indeed helpful. Benchmark and understand the contacts that are no longer coming in for topics that where proactive has been deployed.
- Iterate And Improve
Delivering a great customer experience means you are never done. Instead, it’s an iterative process. I am a heavy believer in testing and learning. You should seek to understand what your customers are doing and create hypotheses to eliminate any friction.
And as we learn, we all must adjust quickly. You shouldn’t expect to get it perfect the first time or the fifth but instead, focus on incremental wins that create a culture of constantly seeking to improve your customers’ experiences. It’s crucial to collect learnings from each customer and then apply those learnings to help customers accomplish their goals faster.
- Test, Test And Test Again
Customers can interact with you in thousands of ways, so work with your partners to better understand the most meaningful interactions. Then select the most impactful, create a hypothesis to solve the challenge, implement the change and test it to validate that you achieved the result you expected.
Since customer behavior determines whether or not a customer receives a proactive treatment, you can compare the engagement of the customers you engage with proactively to those you don’t. What do they do in the digital channel? Do they call the call center? Do they complete their transaction?
Take a look at the full customer experience to identify both problems and opportunities. A lot of insurers stop short and only measure what is right in front of them. Instead, go in several directions left and right and continue to test and monitor your progress over time.
- Communicate Proactively
Offering proactive guidance when customers hesitate or struggle is powerful in fostering digital engagement. You can guide your customers to complete basic tasks online. Digital guidance provides the needed information at the point of struggle without requiring the involvement of an agent.
For example, you can guide a customer to reset their password to avoid lockout and an unnecessary contact with your representatives. Or you could offer useful information including how-to videos for complex products such as home equity loans and specialty insurance.
If you can answer a customer’s question before they ask it and set expectations for what will happen two to three steps down the digital road, you give customers the confidence to remain in digital.
- Focus On Education
Education is critical in building confidence in the digital channel. Instill confidence by helping your customers understand the complexity of insurance products. By offering the right amount of education and simplifying and humanizing customer interactions, you make the customer assured that they chose the right product and that you are there for them when they need you.
- Focus On Channels Your Customers Prefer
Email and live chat continue to be the most preferred digital channels for customers. Optimize these interaction channels by being proactive when you detect customer struggle and by offering live chat or email assistance based on urgency and need. Before you invest in technology to support your customers, make sure they will use it.While industry studies prove that those customers who use chat are more satisfied than those who use other channels, insurers can translate those satisfaction improvements into real business results. The results are impressive: companies have increased completed applications by more than 70%, doubled the number of products sold, and significantly increased applications initiated.
- Get Started Now
Don’t succumb to analysis by paralysis. Pick a place to start your proactive digital engagement journey. Start small, create a hypothesis, implement and test it, quantify return on investment and iterate as you learn.
Being stagnant is dangerous. Competitors will pass you by. If you are not getting better every day, you are falling behind. The finish line keeps moving, so you must have discipline and endurance to continue to evolve and improve.
To keep your customers engaged and satisfied, you must guide customers and give them
the assistance they need — even before they know they need it. By anticipating what your customers want and connecting and engaging with them throughout their entire digital journey across devices, you can deliver exceptional experiences in a digital world.
Tara Sporrer is senior vice president of marketing at goMoxie. She may be contacted at [email protected].
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