Customer Service Strategies for the Insurance Industry: Human-Digital Blended Experiences

Mary Ellen Power, October 14, 2021

With the initial disruption brought on by the pandemic now past, the insurance industry is looking to modernize how insurers and broker-dealers interact with clients and provide a high quality customer experience. With the mass migration to digital communication channels, consumers have come to expect the ability to conduct business remotely, with any device they choose.

The challenge now is how to provide a superior customer experience and ensure customer satisfaction within the confines of remote digital processes. Despite a surge in all-things “digital,” insurance customers still value human connection. That’s why a human-digital hybrid model is an important combination for replicating the in-person experience.

We recently presented on how The Future of Insurance Combines In-Person and Digital Interactions. In the presentation, we share ideas on how insurers can bring the human connection to digital insurance processes through a hybrid model that addresses evolving consumer behaviors in a remote-first world.

Below is a 5-minute summary of the key points from the webinar. To listen to the whole presentation, follow this link .

A New Remote-first World

Recent research shows that consumers are embracing digital touchpoints across the entire customer lifecycle, especially at the beginning. According to Forrester Research’s The State of Digital Insurance, 2021, “71% of US life insurance buyers researched their insurance products online”. Similarly, “comparison sites are the most popular way for UK insurance buyers to research their purchase, with 55% using them”1. This indicates that buyers are out there making an effort to look at comparison sites and using online search engines to familiarize themselves with their options before they actually engage with an agent.

COVID-19 has also driven new digital consumer behaviors post-purchase. When asked if it was the first time they accessed financial accounts online on a computer, 12% of respondents said yes. This shows that even digital laggards are overcoming the adoption hurdle with the shift towards online transactions. As they continue to use these services, they will become more comfortable and further rely on digital channels.

When Human Help Is a Must

The insurance industry is now accelerating the pace of its digital transformation. However, whether for a new policy or a claims settlement, it’s important to remember that insurance is a product that requires a lot of trust. With that comes the customer expectation of receiving good service. Customers want a more convenient and modern experience, but they also want to interact with people when they need advice or want a consultation.

Many products, including life insurance and wealth investments, require a discussion about customer needs, level of risk, and short and long-term goals. It’s at this point where human interaction is critical in building a trusted customer relationship and can serve as an important differentiator.

Creating Human-digital Blended Experiences

As consumers become more comfortable interacting with digital touchpoints, insurance agents and advisors will remain a critical component. Insurance companies need to understand how and when consumers want to engage with agents and advisors when they're virtual, and what the optimal experience looks like. Human assistance during the digital experience is going to be required in more complex and higher-value transactions.

To do this remotely in a quick and effective way, OneSpan recommends four elements to create the optimal human-digital blended experience:

  1. Video-enabled communication: This allows companies to mimic the face-to-face environment that would normally take place between an agent and policyholders.
  2. Identity verification and authentication: It’s critical to ensure that the person your systems are interacting with is who they claim to be.
  3. Real-time review of documents: Having the ability to review online documents in real-time will avoid customers dropping off mid-way through their digital journey. Additionally, any adjustments, clarifications, or questions can be answered right away, so the customer can make decisions.
  4. E-Signatures: E-Signatures are key to producing legally-binding agreements online. They also provide a strong audit trail to meet legal and compliance requirements.

The Changing Role of the Advisor

As the creation of human-digital experiences evolves, the role of agents and advisors will also continue to change. But a few key responsibilities will still need to remain top priority for insurance companies. This includes continuing to provide a premium, customer-centric experience to address their questions and concerns in real-time.

Though much of the workflows and processes can remain self-service, agents and advisors will need to assist customers along their digital journey at various touchpoints to help them avoid and overcome difficulties, and clarify terms and conditions in their insurance policies. They will also continue to help customers reduce missing and incorrect information in new business and account applications and forms, to avoid back-and-forth emails or phone calls and speed up transactions. Overall, agents and advisors will need to continue to engage with customers in a more interactive way that brings the face-to-face environment into the virtual world.

Where to Go from Here

Traditionally, carriers and agents relied on face-to-face meetings with customers to complete business applications, disclosures and policies, and the insurance claims process. But shifts in consumer behavior and industry competition towards online experiences put pressure on insurance businesses and financial services organizations to create a new high-touch, digital customer engagement experience. The consumer gets the help they need to complete their transactions while insurance companies engage virtually and build customer loyalty.

Developing a hybrid human-digital model to address evolving and new customer  behaviors is the way to ensure customer retention and prevent churn in a remote-first world. Replicating in-person customer interactions through digital platforms that integrate e-signature, videoconferencing, identity proofing, and rich collaboration capabilities needs to be balanced with the role of advisors and agents in remote channels. Overall, a hybrid model will build a stronger connection and loyalty with consumers while becoming an integral partof your omnichannel strategy.

Watch our full on-demand webcast to better understand how OneSpan’s technology enables insurers to create the optimal hybrid human-digital model.

The Future of Insurance Combines In-Person and Digital Interactions
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The Future of Insurance Combines In-Person and Digital Interactions - Blog

In this webinar, OneSpan shares how insurers can bring the human connection to digital insurance processes. Watch Now

1. Ibid.