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COVID-19. It’s testing us all.

As you know, the New Zealand Government announced this week that a level 4 alert for the country will commence Wednesday, and insurers have been listed as an essential service and will continue to operate.

But it’s by no means business as usual. Unprecedented times call for a change in thinking. 

As an insurer, your Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are being actioned. Staff numbers may be wavering and consumer demand shifting. 

In this short blog we discuss why digitising the customer experience should be part of your BCP if it’s not already.

The online customer experience

Offering a personalised and simple online experience for customers is even more important than ever during a stressful and emotional pandemic. 

From the confines of their home, your customers are wondering what they’re covered for and the uninsured are thinking about buying insurance right now. 

Online web forms often have kick outs without explanation, low conversion rates and often require the user to pick up the phone at the end of the form anyway: inadequacies in the online customer experience like these, create user frustration and an unsuccessful interaction with a customer. Now is the time to implement an end-to-end optimised digital experience for customers who desire 24/7, instant responses, and a simple user experience while they ensure they have the right cover.

On top of that, when there is limited human contact as there is right now, offering the next best thing means a lot to people. Offering a ‘human-like’ contact will create personalised experience instead of impersonal and unresponsive forms.

Insurers who do offer this will not only benefit from serving existing customers well during a crisis, but will also continue to sell policies during this tough time.

The call centre

One of the biggest challenges is the enablement of alternative work arrangements for employees. This of course includes the call centre which is often harder to shift remote than it is for other employee teams. As you know, call centre staff are under huge pressure due to a portion of staff not being able to work remotely or becoming sick. On top of that, call volumes remain higher than normal. Many of the callers just want reassurance in trying times.

By moving more of the customer experience online, call centre work loads can be reduced and remaining staff can focus on the complex cases. Those customers coming through the call centre will also have a better experience without waiting in a phone queue for quite as long.

Insurers who do offer a sophisticated digital option for customers will not only retain competitive advantage in the market, but be able to manage staff morale and workload in stressful times.

Agent numbers

COVID-19 is also likely disrupting your distributor network. Your agents and brokers suffer similar risk management and BCP challenges, and have made the shift to working from home.

“Under these circumstances, insurers that have invested in advancing their digital capabilities will likely be better positioned in the short term to maintain a connection to their distribution partners, who, in turn, should be able to offer faster and more comprehensive services to their clients.” (Deloitte)

Ensuring distributors can do as much as they possibly can online will help them thrive. One example is how JRNY’s customer experience tool can help gather important information to be sent to the broker, so they can focus on acting on the information, not the administration.

Summary

As you’re implementing and reviewing your BCP right now, consider optimising the online customer experience as a primary and early focus. Minimising impact to the end customer will reassure people that you are there for them, are stable, and are in it for the long haul.

In the case of a pandemic where staff numbers are low and the workload is high, digitising as much of the workflow is a no brainer.

Companies that don’t have an optimised digital customer experience as part of BCP are at risk of losing new and existing customers as well as competitive advantage. Now is the time.

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