Buying insurance used to take some of the fun out of getting a new car. You’d find the perfect ride, get a loan on site, and want to hit the open road. Then you remembered that you needed to insure your vehicle before you left the lot. If you happened to be car shopping during business hours — hitting the dealership at, say, noon Monday — you’d probably be OK. You’d call your agent, and he or she could issue a policy pretty quickly. But if you shopped on a weekend or after 5PM, you often couldn’t get immediate coverage. You’d have to leave your new car on the lot for a night or a weekend until your insurance agency opened for business.
Not anymore. As discussed in Going “Channel-less,” a new Forbes Insights briefing sponsored by Pitney Bowes, digital transformation and 24X7 omnichannel customer engagement can help insurers improve the customer experience and differentiate themselves in a market that’s growing increasingly commoditized. To implement omnichannel engagement and customer relationship management strategies, insurers need data of the highest possible quality. This data helps them interact with the right customers via the right channels, and offer the right policies at the right premiums.
When recently buying a new car, I experienced this type of seamless customer service. I had my insurer’s app on my smartphone. I typed my new car’s vehicle identification number into the app, and specified the coverage I wanted. The app then asked me a series of questions. When I encountered one I didn’t understand, I tapped on the app’s “click to call” feature. An agent picked up. He answered my question, then asked if I wanted to continue the insurance purchase via the app or with him, on the phone. I decided to finish with the agent. He knew exactly where I was in the application process, so I didn’t have to repeat any information I’d already entered into the app. When we were done, he emailed me a PDF of my insurance card to show to the dealer.
Service excellence continued a few months later, when my car suffered some hail damage. I filed a claim via the app. The app recommended a repair facility nearby and made an appointment for me. When I got to the repair place, the service technician already knew who I was. He had all my paperwork. He told me to leave my keys, and said he’d call me when my car was ready.
Insurers are only able to provide this type of near-seamless engagement experience when they have quality insight into the behaviors and demographics of each customer. Is the customer’s driving record clean? Is his neighborhood safe, or are car break-ins a problem? How popular a target is the make and model of the car being insured?
The connections that enable excellent customer experiences aren’t always easy to make. Insurers have a lot of disparate, siloed systems that cannot communicate with each other. This makes it hard to develop a single view of each customer, which in turn makes it hard to improve the customer experience.
To better understand in-house data, insurers can deploy new technologies that pull data from the places where it already lives, for a more complete view of what is known internally about each customer. Once that view is established, insurers can enhance it with third-party data that provides deeper insights about customers’ physical locations, demographics, digital footprints, and other characteristics. Insight from this data can help insurers offer the right policy to the right customer at the right price, via the right engagement channel — thereby improving the customer experience.