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Why insurance firms must pay more attention to the Voice of the Customer

28th Jun 2016
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It is time to hand over the blog reins to PeopleTECH’s resident voice of the customer expert, Gail Partridge...

Many insurance firms have a proud history of delivering an excellent experience to their customers. Equally however, there are undoubtedly consumers out there that have endured long call waiting times, being transferred from department to department and having to repeat their details several times when interacting with their insurance company.

Failure to deliver a good customer experience has bigger consequences than it ever has. There are more companies for customers to choose from than before, and consumers are much less inert about changing financial services providers than they once were.

So what makes a good customer experience in insurance in 2016? Much of it comes down to effort. Companies must look to reduce the effort expended by their customers and make it feel much more like they are having a conversation – and crucially, listening more intently to what those customers are actually saying, paying attention to the ‘voice of the customer’.

The Voice of the Customer

Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a process used to capture customer requirements and feedback with a view to providing the customers with a superior service and / or quality product. In its purest form this sounds straight forward indeed – most organisations would claim that they listen to their customers’ requirements and needs, and put them above all else.

Yet too often businesses have processes that have been built by people that do not understand the customer. Rather than trying to implement systems that make life easier for the customer, there can be a tendency to choose something that is more inexpensive or perhaps that makes life simpler in some way at the backend or other area of the business.

This is a mistake. If any organisation ignores the voice of the customer for too long, they will start to see the impact of that in churn and ultimately the bottom line. Uber is a great example of a company that takes VOC seriously. It is the ultimate in simplicity and feels effortless when consumers use it. Why is it not possible for other sectors, such as insurance, to deliver a similar customer experience?

Effort, not delight should be a focus

Many in the CX industry focus on delivering the best customer experience possible, based on a combination of people, processes and technology. But what does this customer experience look and feel like? Too often, organisations try to deliver an exceptional experience, when they really should be focusing on reducing the effort their customers have to expend to get things done.

Harvard Business Review has written previously about the need to stop trying to delight your customers. What fosters loyalty and word of mouth recommendations is not a one-off ‘super experience’, it’s a seamless and straightforward experience, low on customer effort but high on outcomes.

If one looks at insurance, this would mean customers retaining context across channels and interactions with their provider. People are often asked what their policy number is when speaking to a representative – who honestly knows that without having to dig around for it?

It is partly due to organisations looking at the wrong metrics. Reducing call time is a mantra for many that operate call centres, and while the sentiment is ok, it is a business-focused process, not a customer-focused one. It’s a classic example of a process built and designed by people that do not understand the customer.

Listen and learn

It’s more important than ever for insurance companies to deliver the right customer experience, with new and more agile market entrants emerging all the time. Traditional providers have a long heritage and well-established brands to fall back on, but this will only go so far in today’s economy.

It’s all about reducing effort for the customer, and insurance firms must ask themselves how serious they are about that? If they are, then they should listen to what their customers are telling them and build their processes around that.

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