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When it comes to Customer Service, expectations have never been higher. After years of hearing “the customer is always right,” consumers have a low tolerance for inconvenience. They understand that their power to take their business elsewhere is not to be ignored and therefore expect fast, efficient service that takes care of their needs to their liking. 

In the insurance and benefits industry, the customer experience is of even greater importance than in other sectors. 

Customer service is about more than a pleasant voice on the phone 

No matter how friendly and understanding your customer service agents are, if they cannot offer solutions to your clients’ and customers’ needs and concerns, they will be unable to offer world-class customer service. 

While soft skills certainly have their place in CSR training, when it comes to higher customer satisfaction ratings, it is crucial to focus on the root of problems that create frustration for the customer (rather than blaming the agent that delivers the message). 

Often the driving force behind a CS failure is administrative issues 

Very rarely is an obstinate and vengeful customer service representative the cause of a customer service failure. Usually, they do their job to the best of their ability with the tools that they have been provided. 

The real problem behind customer complaints usually leads back to those tools that the customer or agent is using; after all, the agent can only do so much with a flawed administrative system.  

These administrative problems could be a disconnect between departments, trouble finding the correct information, or slow and unnecessarily complex systems causing delays.  

What are some specific administrative issues that ruin customer experience with insurance companies? 

More specifically, when it comes to customer service in the insurance arena, major problems can ruin an otherwise positive customer experience: 

(1) trouble with online processing of payments, changes, and registration 

(2) the system of sending and receiving documents with pertinent information in a secure manner 

(3) creating a responsive customer service system when an online or automated procedure falls short. 

These problems fall into two categories: trouble with online/automated administrative systems and trouble making the right person readily available to resolve troubles where online self-service options drop the ball. 

How can you proactively solve problems online? 

Ensuring that your desktop website, mobile website, and mobile app (and yes, you need all three) are easy and intuitive to use comes down to using the right program behind the scenes.  

As mentioned above, the fundamental problems with online systems are self-service options for policy maintenance and the secure transfer of sensitive documents. 

Is registration and account maintenance intuitive? 

If your system makes it challenging for potential customers to register or sign up for their account or policies, then you have already lost the potential lead. They have many options online, and you can be sure that they will not waste their time with a site or app that is challenging from the start. 

Similarly, if making changes to their information, policy, or account online is too challenging and cumbersome, they will make an even more significant change and move to another company that makes things easy for them to accomplish with self-service options online. 

For these reasons, an easy and intuitive system for registration and account maintenance (like paying bills and updating coverages) is imperative for customer acquisition and retention. An elegant site that leads a customer through a process step by step, clarifying and answering questions along the way, will go a long way towards acquiring and retaining customers and preventing unnecessary phone calls with easy-to-use self-service options. 

How easy do you make it to send and receive documents? 

Especially where insurance policies are concerned, there will never be a shortage of information that needs to be conveyed securely. In today’s digital world, using notarized paper documents and sending them through the secure mail system is too slow. Your system must provide the option to send and receive digital documents and ensign paperwork, all while keeping sensitive information safe.  

When an online solution falls short, is your phone system easy and effective? 

At the end of the day, we are all human. As much as we like anonymously ordering our pizza online or texting instead of calling, there will always be those situations that arise where you just need to talk to a real, live person to effectively (and, ideally, quickly) resolve an issue. 

Although self-service options are the preference of nearly everyone these days, every online system needs a human fallback. Every company that wants a positive customer service experience needs to offer their customers the ability to call and talk to a live person. Sometimes talking to someone is the only effective method for what to do, how to do it, and why it has to be done in a certain way. To avoid administrative problems with your phone system, consider the following points. 

Avoid confusing and frustrating phone trees 

A responsive customer service system gets your customer to the right person quickly and effectively. Creating a phone tree that is simple and effective is often a balance between providing enough branches to be helpful, but not so many to be overwhelming.  

Unfortunately, phone trees are often designed for straightforward problems, and often customers are calling in specifically because their question or problem is outside of the box. Even a well-designed phone tree will only lead them in circles or (very likely) to the wrong person. Therefore, no matter what, you always need a catch-all that directs the call to an operator who can intelligently assess the issue or question and direct the call accordingly.  

Reduce hold time frustration in intelligent and convenient ways 

Perhaps the single most frustrating thing about waiting on hold is a repetitive, recorded message promoting the website and letting the customer know that there are self-service options available online. In this day in age, if a customer is calling in, you can bet that they either cannot (or will not) resolve their problem using the online system. They have already tried it, they know that it’s not working for them, which is exactly why they are calling in instead. 

Whenever possible, your phone system should keep hold music quiet and tolerable and automated messages infrequent and helpful. The option to receive a call back instead of waiting on hold is a great addition and may be appealing for some, but someone who does not want to take you up on that offer does not want to hear about it every 30 seconds.  

The goal is easy and convenient customer service from all angles  

These customer service solutions should be implemented from the ground up. Starting with an online system that removes ambiguity, offers a simple and straightforward path to accomplishing tasks, and isn’t littered with unnecessary roadblocks is the first step towards creating a better customer experience that will improve retention and acquisition.  

Genius Avenue was born in the insurance and benefits industry and we understand the needs of your customers and how to meet them. To learn more about how we can help with customer acquisition and management, and sales and marketing support, click here.