Innovation’s upsides and pitfalls for UK insurance

26th February 2024

Nicky Njerpe

by Nicky Hjerpe

Would UK insurers succeed in a penalty shoot-out – or blast the ball into the crowd? With customer service, you get few chances to win. Technology can be on your side or work against you.

In its recent analysis of customer service (CX) in insurance, global consultancy McKinsey makes a powerful point: “Customers typically interact with their insurance carrier once or twice a year. This is in stark contrast with other financial services industries, such as banking, in which customer interactions take place 10 to 20 times more often. The low frequency of customer touchpoints in insurance means that it’s extremely important to get each one right.”

Admittedly, McKinsey’s report looks at the US marketplace. But the high stakes of insurance interactions will apply in the UK too. Here, customer satisfaction with the insurance sector fell from 80.8% to 78.7%, according to the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI).

When it comes to improving CX, McKinsey believes that success is about offering seamless, omnichannel customer journeys. But then adds: “… this hardly describes the insurance experience today. The customer journey is typically fragmented from the start.”

So how can insurers increase customer happiness in the more complex area of claims? And what role can technology play. Let’s look at three areas when insurance brands may be winning or losing.

1: Intuitive interfaces

Getting customers to download your app can help to build trust and engagement. But is there a point where the road gets bumpy once customers enter the claims process?

Customers value the freedom to be able to switch contact channels – but they don’t like this being forced on them. For example, asking them to download a form to print, complete, scan and email can frustrate people. It feels like they’ve suddenly stepped through a time portal and gone back 10 years.

In the customer’s mind, everything should be seamless … on the app, the website or sorted via a call. They don’t want to shifted from one channel to another because the insurer’s back-end systems lack integration or rely heavily on manual, paper-based processes.

2: Speed and efficiency

Handling claims in the highly-regulated insurance sector can be more complex than many services for other industries. But customer expectations will be based on their experiences elsewhere, such as their online bank account or retail purchases that come with tracking.

Customers may be asking themselves: “Why on earth is this taking so long?”

It’s important to streamline and accelerate the process using automation. What’s more, each of your contact channels should also be able to provide a step-by-step status update on claims.

This will also ease the pressure on your voice channel, saving anxious or angry customers from calling up, demanding to know what’s happening.

3: Human contact when it’s needed

In many instances, virtual assistants and chatbots will be able to handle routine inquiries about claims. But an overreliance on these technologies without human oversight can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding.

The claims process often involves sensitive situations – where people need reassurance – and so a complete absence of human touch may result in CX that seems impersonal and disconnected. Customers may feel as if they’re going around in circles.

They need technology that can put them through to a human adviser tight away – someone with their claim details on the screen already.

Converting opportunities

Would a shabby claims experience lose you customers when renewal comes around? For some brands, poorly executed technology will result in own-goals. However, the right innovation can change the game for insurers – and secure lasting customer loyalty. You don’t need to rip and replace your existing systems either.

New contact centre tools can bring your engagement data into one place for your claims advisors to access easily. Robotic process automation (RPA) can be used to connect disparate systems, maximise accuracy and accelerate workflows. In addition, low-code tools can be used by business teams to smooth out any bottlenecks in the claims process and personalise experiences for customers.

When rare CX opportunities come around, it’s essential that insurers step up and take their chances.

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