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12 STEPS TO ELEVATE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT THROUGH COMMUNICATION

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By James Hall, Commercial Director, Doxim

 

One of the most important business lessons from the past 18 or so months has been the importance of customer experience. This is especially true for insurers, who have dramatically had to alter how they service their clients, as well as their communication around those services.

In the wake of COVID-19, thousands of businesses faced unprecedented levels of disruption. Those businesses turned to their insurance companies to help make the shortfall from that time. Many of them are still waiting for their payouts. Insurance companies, ordered by Britain’s highest court to pay thousands of small businesses millions of pounds in claims for COVID-19 disruption, are facing a battle with reinsurers over who should foot the bill.

Coupled with a slew of insurtech companies coming for their lunch, this situation only makes it more important that insurers use communication to retain and grow customer bases. Historically, that’s not something insurers have been good at. Within the last few years, more than 90% of insurers worldwide did not communicate with their customers even once a year, and many customers did not receive a single communication all year. Of those interactions, many were limited to claims and related advice. Digital communication is, obviously, the best way around this, allowing organisations to talk to customers on the channels they want to be reached on.

But simply adopting digital communication isn’t enough. Organisations also need to ensure they’re doing everything they can to provide their customers with the best possible experience. This is known as customer experience management (CXM). While customer experience is the sum of all their interactions and exposure with and to that brand, CXM is what the organisation does to manage and optimize customer experience; it is a combination of all the strategies, processes, systems, and technologies that a business employs for this purpose.

While the task of enhancing CX can seem daunting, organisations can make it a great deal easier by making 12 simple adjustments to their customer communications. These steps can, in turn, be broken down into four categories of progression.

 

Audit

The first few steps when it comes to enhancing CXM involve assessing the current status of your customer communications. Doing so means auditing all the communications your customers currently receive. Initially, at least, it’s probably best to start with one or two customer journeys such as onboarding or renewals.

1. Step one in the audit process is to fully visualise the customer journey you’ve chosen. One way of doing this is to print out every piece of communication for this journey and stick them up on a large, blank wall. Ideally, they should be put up in the order the customer receives them in. If you notice that they’re dealing with differences in design and tone, and calls to action, you know for certain that you need to take action.

2. Even if your communications are aligned from a design perspective, you should identify the best performing piece of communication. Importantly, this shouldn’t be the piece of communication that you like the most, but the one that gets the best results. As a team, you can then discuss what elements made it so successful and how to integrate them.

3. The third step in the auditing process is to take your team through each step in the customer journey from the customer’s perspective. Here, you can note where your communication is lacking and can be improved.

 

Design

With the audit step having given you an idea of how much work you have to do, you can begin to address the communication issues you’ve identified. Design is the best place to start on this front.

4. Using cues from the best performing communication which you identified, you can design your communication standard. This standard should also incorporate best practice on layout, accessibility and readability.

5. You also need to ensure that your designs clearly display the most important information and include a clear call to action. As well as it being immediately clear what the communication is about, it should be obvious to the customer what they’re expected to do.

6. With those elements in place, you should do as much testing as possible. Assess whether your communications adhere to your design guidelines, and if they meet accessibility requirements and are compliant with industry regulations, such as GDPR. You can also use A/B testing to further refine the message and your call to action.

 

Align

The outcome of the first six steps you’ve taken should give you a design template on which to base your future communications. With this template in place, you can begin to align all your communications so that your public body has a consistent brand voice.

7. The first step in the alignment process is to build out a plan for consistent creative design and tone of content in your communications. This will help you create a customer experience that lines up across all your target communications.

8. Another important aspect of alignment is timing. By reviewing the frequency of customer communications across the customer journey, you can hit the communication sweet spot, rather than too frequently or not frequently enough.

9.The next step can be the hardest, especially in public service organisations where people can easily get stuck in their ways. It is nonetheless critical to align the objectives of everyone involved in communication. Organisation-wide buy-in is crucial to creating a consistent customer experience.

 

Enhance

Now that you have communication that does what it’s meant to, is set up and designed to achieve the intended results, and is aligned across the organisation, you can look at ways to keep enhancing it.

10. The first thing you need to know about enhancing your customer communications is that the design needs to be refreshed regularly. People stop paying attention to things that are familiar to them. Additionally, standards, regulator requirements, and best practises evolve. It’s therefore imperative that your organisation also adapt.

11. Another important part of enhancing your communication is to listen to how your customers react to it. This can take the shape of direct feedback as well as analysis of their interactions with each piece of communication. The more data you have, the better equipped you’ll be to refine your communication and optimise performance.

12. If you’ve done all of the above successfully and seen positive results, you can apply these steps to other customer journeys.

 

For the good of public service

Insurers are under pressure from all angles to meet increasingly high customer expectations. Their best hope of doing so on a consistent basis is to use enhanced communication to manage their experiences.

 

Business

OUTSOURCING YOUR IT SOLUTIONS CAN SAVE YOU FROM COSTLY DOWNTIME

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Amir Hashmi, CEO and Founder of leading IT and Cloud services provider Zsah, discusses why you need full-time professionals if you want to avoid the money pits of IT downtime

 

A lot of wealthy business owners will uphold the following infamous statement – time is money. Many CEOs believe that it should be at the heart of your business strategy. They aren’t wrong, and it is no different when it comes to IT. Therefore, it is high-time that businesses consider the real risks and costs associated with IT downtime, and do all they can to avoid it

In the midst of a post-pandemic technological revolution, it’s now more important than ever to carefully consider who manages your technology. It is essentially the motor that drives productivity, efficiency and growth, and if therefore, if there isn’t a thorough and dedicated system in place, businesses risk system failure, which can risk everything.

Something so essential to a company deserves to be taken more seriously than just to deploy the services of an IT help desk when there’s a significant issue. The answer isn’t necessarily to consider ways in which you can fix a problem once it arises, but instead to ponder upon ways of preventing an issue from occurring in the first place. This is what leads us to managed IT support services: your personal, dedicated team of IT experts that not only fix issues when they occur, but that also constantly improve the software and hardware so there is less chance they ever take place.

 

The real cost of downtime

Whenever your IT isn’t functioning at its full capability, you are losing money. Even the shortest of gaps in service can severely impact the customers’ experience, your reputation, and the output and efficiency of your entire staff.

In 2017, ITIC sent out an independent survey to measure downtime costs. It found that 98% of organisations say that a single hour of downtime costs over USD $100,000, with 81% putting the figure at over $300,000. For 33% of businesses, 60 minutes of downtime would cost their firms between $1 million and £5 million.

Figures from Statista.com reveal 24% of organisations worldwide reporting average hourly downtime costs amounting to between USD 301,000 and USD 400,000, with 14% reporting greater than USD 5 million in costs.

Elsewhere, IHS Markit surveyed 400 companies and found downtime was costing them a collective USD 700 billion per year – 78% of which was from lost employee productivity during outages.

 

Managed IT solutions are the key

Though we may never know the full cost of downtime, it is evident that it costs individuals and businesses a large amount of money. Don’t wait until your next emergency to remedy a problem; get the professionals in now to prepare for the future, rather than just fix problems in the present.

When you work with a managed technology services provider, your network and infrastructure are supervised 24 hours a day, all year round. As with any IT service, this means that issues will be fixed – however the real advantage is more long-term. As technology service providers perform regular proactive upkeep, there will be a reduced chance of suffering from issues in the first instance, and when (or if) they do occur, it will be far simpler to recover data thanks to full cloud integration.

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HOW TRADITIONAL INSURERS CAN USE TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CUSTOMERS

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The customer experience with insurance is anomalous, in that one is only required to engage with their insurer if things are going wrong for them. To add value to the relationship, new technology and methods should be adopted, in turn driving loyalty and business growth, writes Oliver Werneyer, CEO and Co-founder of Imburse

Oliver Werneyer

Insurance is one of the oldest industries in the world and it is still, to this day, considered a grudge purchase. Looking back, insurance has a history of having a challenging relationship with its customers. According to an IBM study, in 2008, only 39% of consumers trusted the insurance industry. This percentage has stayed largely similar over the years, having reached only 42% in 2020. For any business with growth ambitions, good customer relationships are crucial.

I believe that now more than ever, the insurance industry not only needs to continue investing in improving relationships with customers, but to really think about new ways of doing so. At a basic level, the moment of truth for an insurance customer is when either they need to pay or are getting paid. Insurers can have the best policy wording, quick claims processes, apps and advisors, but if the experience to pay premiums or to receive a claim is bad, the customer immediately loses trust.

The pandemic has exposed this tenuous relationship between insurers and its customers. The need to move everything online and provide personalised services has exposed significant shortcomings in the service insurers provide. The industry has been too slow to adopt newer technologies and move engagements closer to the customer (self-service and empowered). This is largely due to the legacy systems and processes that insurers failed to modernise over previous years.

This means that the better-positioned incumbents have stronger customer relationships and benefit disproportionately from the pandemic, as they are able to win more new customers and convert customers from other insurers. They also benefit from significantly lower customer acquisition costs and much better growth, as illustrated in this McKinsey report. Even new entrants or InsurTechs are benefitting massively by focusing on improved customer experience and customer relationships.

However, it is never too late for insurers to build better relationships with customers. The main way to build a good relationship with a client is to make life easier, live up to promises and add value through the relationship with them. By working on these key elements, insurers can start building strong relationships with their customers, and, through the right partners, deliver this in a timely and non-disruptive manner.

 

Embedded Services

Insurance products often get a bad reputation because they cost money, but the benefits might only come much later, or never. Customers don’t get to experience a positive relationship with insurance products, either because they never claim and feel like they lost out, or they claim and they’re in a bad situation. By either embedding other services into the insurance experience to deliver a more transactional engagement, or embedding insurance products into general customer experiences such as online shopping or rewards, insurers can enrich customer relationships to generate value.

This way, insurers become a value-adding part of the customers’ everyday activities and not just a product that they have to pay for and may never get anything back from. One example is to embed micro-savings capabilities, often found in banking, into pension savings and insurance products. This can allow customers to save more for pension, attract younger customers and build a portfolio of fiscally disciplined customers.

 

Tailored journeys and personalisation

Customers have come to expect personalised journeys and engagements from product providers. Streaming services, social media, e-commerce or mobility services have shaped the customer expectations. Now, customers are also expecting personalisation for insurers.

Insurers need to invest very heavily in delivering personalisation and customisation to customers as they engage with their products. Failure to deliver this puts renewed strain on the value perceived by the customer and their relationship with the insurer. This applies not only to customer interfaces, but to aspects such as payments. Insurers should make it easy and pleasant for customers to pay and get paid. As the main moment of truth, payment experiences need to work optimally.

 

Perceived customer value metrics and delivery

The value customers derive from insurance products is, generally, monetary. Therefore, insurers must invest in product enhancement to increase its perceived value. Perceived value is not tied to a monetary value. By being able to choose between multiple payment options, such as a $300 pay-out to a bank account or a $320 Amazon voucher, the customer has a higher perceived value of the payment. This can be achieved by leveraging non-insurance products that can be purchased at a discounted price, exclusive access that the customer would otherwise not have or conversion into a form that is more useful to the customer.

Payments, for collection and pay-out, are at the core of delivering this value. An excellent payment experience immediately influences the customer to be positively inclined toward a product (PwC report). In order to offer this, insurers need to leverage multiple technologies and providers, offer any speed of transaction in any market, and deliver faster automation and better risk control. The key is to transform insurance products into transactional value-adds to customers’ lives and use this opportunity to continuously build on relationships with customers.

The main roadblock for insurers is still the operational implications of these activities and the costs that arise. In looking to build a better customer relationship, insurers need to look at partners that are operational enablers to deliver this. Partners that can solve the integration and speed-to-market problem so that insurers are enabled to deliver new capabilities, not bombard them with new ideas and no path to delivery.

Imburse, for instance, enables insurers to access all the global payment providers and technologies available in any market. Through a single connection, insurers can deploy any payment capability into any channel, for collection and pay-outs, without ever again needing to build a direct operational integration to the providers. This gives them full freedom to leverage payments as a key value driver and customer experience enhancer.

Building a better relationship with insurance customers is key for the insurance industry to close the protection gap. Incumbents are in the prime position to look at Insurtech and Fintech partners to rapidly and significantly modernise, digitalise and transform their own capabilities to deliver major enhanced value to their customers.

Imburse is an advanced universal payment connector that enables businesses to gain cost-effective access to complete global payments technology, regardless of the service provider. To learn more, please visit www.imbursepayments.com.

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