Alex Glanz

Solutions Principal, Insurance

This year alone we have seen a volcano erupt in Hawaii, a bomb cyclone in New England, and mudslides and devastating fires in Southern California. It’s during times like these that the largest number of people rely the most on their insurance carrier. As people begin to file claims and seek assistance, customer service resources quickly become maxed out – employees are inundated with claims and calls from panicked customers, third party vendors are stretched too thin, and internal systems are overwhelmed.
This is when high-quality customer service counts the most. A 2015 Medallia study found that 40% of customers are likely to switch insurers after a bad claim filing experience, up from 15% when they have a good or average experience. In addition, a 2018 Medallia study found that customers under 35 are almost twice as likely to anticipate changing carriers, so it’s vital to ensure that customers are satisfied with the entire experience from the initial purchase through to the claims process. Neglecting what are often highly emotional circumstances for customers during a disaster can cost insurers more than just a lost customer. One bad experience can lead to poor brand perception, increased regulatory scrutiny, and an erosion of trust in the insurance market.
Below are three ways insurers can prioritize customer relationships and set themselves up for success during a disaster.
1. Utilize customer experience data to prioritize needs
A stellar customer experience matters more than ever in times of crisis, when insurers need to respond to major disaster scenarios and people feel the most vulnerable. The most effective way to resolve the urgent customer needs first is with good prioritization. This is where existing customer experience (CX) data can be your best friend.  A data-driven approach can provide you with the tools to maintain critical service during a disaster by helping to identify what people value most during a crisis, and guide you on how to best address those pain points and meet their needs. As a result, you will build strong CX relationships that will lead to loyal customers for years to come.
2. Give Your Employees The Power To Take Action
In a time of crisis, every second counts. Empower your employees at every level to respond quickly and efficiently to needs of your customer. Reduce any red tape and create a cadence where more challenging requests are immediately routed to a manager or person with the authorization to handle it. By giving each employee the power to problem solve in the moment, the focus remains on the customer and issue can be resolved more efficiently.
3. Start A Two-Way Dialogue With Your Customers
Customers need quick and easy access to their provider during an emergency.  People are navigating downed phones lines, interrupted cell service, and unreliable internet access. Providing as many contact channels as possible helps to ensure a better experience. Make sure your call center routing and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are streamlined, have a dedicated team monitoring social media, and leverage live chat and automated chatbots to connect with customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. During this time you also want to use feedback surveys to collect customer experience information and monitor for service breakdowns. And by reaching out to customers for feedback before a claim is settled, you have the opportunity to address issues and make things right before it’s too late.
A 2018 Medallia survey asked consumers if they’d consider purchasing insurance from Amazon in a hypothetical scenario. We can’t predict the future but 55% of satisfied customers under the age of 45 would consider buying insurance from Amazon. And while Amazon doesn’t offer insurance today, they’ve made recent investments in insurance startups and there are unconfirmed reports that Amazon’s own home insurance offerings may not be too far off either. Pairing this threat with the consistent traction new players such as Hippo and Lemonade are gaining makes it critical for established insurers to provide exceptional customer experience – and it counts more than ever in a crisis.
Learn more about Medallia for Insurance.