A growing number of health insurance providers are embracing digitization and transforming the way in which they interact with customers. However, just 56 percent of consumers feel their health insurance offers good customer service and 49 percent rate their insurance’s communication skills.
And the reason, according to the 2018 Forrester U.S. Health Insurers Customer Experience Index, is because too many companies in the sector aren’t focusing on the biggest driver of customer experience (CX) – emotion.
“It can be easy to forget that emotion is central to being human, and that emotion is central to the customer journey” says John Thompson, VP, Business Development, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance at Sitel Group. “So, before adopting any form of technology, your company needs to understand where that technology sits in this journey and how it can improve the possibility of generating positive emotions.”
If properly integrated, technology revolutionizes the way you serve your customers, be it in automating back office functions or via chatbots and other artificial intelligence (AI)-guided systems for providing instantaneous responses to customer questions or for sorting through thousands of data points to find the right premium or mitigate risk.
Indeed, Bain and Co’s 2017 report into the industry notes insurances that have doubled down on customer service through investments in a multichannel approach and adopting digital tools have been rewarded with greater customer loyalty. This, in turn, has seen increases of up to 20 percentage points for Net Promoter Scores (NPS) over a three-year period.
However, the companies that are succeeding are the ones using technology to augment their contact center agents’ capabilities, rather than to replace the human touch.
“No matter how tech-savvy we become, we are always more likely to pick up the phone to discuss something as sensitive as health,” explains Thompson. “And, when we do, we want to feel empathy, to feel supported – things that an algorithm can’t deliver. Humans have the emotional intelligence needed to solve the most complex of problems and no matter how innovative technologies like AI become, it’s impossible to imagine customer service without a human touch at its core.”
This is why customer service shouldn’t be viewed as contact centers, chatbots, social media or email. Instead, it should be seen as a selection of interconnected, consistent tools for providing customers with a positive service wherever they are and whenever they want it.
“For health insurances, this means enabling a customer to move seamlessly from the website to live chat or from a chatbot to a live agent without that customer ever having to repeat themselves or provide information twice,” said Thompson.
In Forrester’s annual index, consumers rank customer service, communication and feeling respected as a customer as the top reasons for choosing a health insurance. In other words, premium costs and the healthcare plan itself are secondary to CX.
Likewise, the latest PwC Experience is Everything Study shows that 78 percent of consumers place a premium on positive experiences and interactions with brands when making a healthcare purchasing decision.
Therefore, the message is clear: companies that want to retain their existing customer and attract new customers in 2019 must use CX, not competitive pricing, as their chief differentiator.
Whether it’s building on or strengthening customer experience and loyalty, optimizing the flow and understanding of data through your enterprise or using a multichannel approach to engage with consumers, partnering with an experienced provider like Sitel Group gives you access to all of the expertise and tools needed to really differentiate your services from those of your competitors.
We have a proven track record in helping organizations across banking and financial services to enhance their levels of customer service and CX.