With the average Canadian checking their Facebook 14 times per day, it’s more important than ever for carriers and brokers to have an effective presence, especially during a catastrophic event. It’s an increasingly important strategy for Aviva Canada, which was the first carrier to address the unfolding Fort McMurray fires on social media, offering clients and area residents a platform for safety and claims information.
“We were really proud to be the first ones on social media with Fort McMurray – 11 hours ahead of any competitor,” says Jean-Francois Marquis, social media specialist at Aviva Canada. He adds that as the flames grew, the carrier had to step up their response efforts. “When we started with the messaging for Fort McMurray, we could not anticipate how bad it was going to be. The size of the fire could not be anticipated at that moment,” he says. “At first, our strategy was just to provide some basic information as to what the customers could do at that precise moment: for example, how to prepare to evacuate, and constant reminders to follow the local authorities.”
He says that a week and a half into the fires, customer social outreach changed from basic information-seeking to requesting support for specific claims. In that context, social media provided an effective method of communication during peak times, whereas in the past consumers may have been greeted by a busy signal. “Maybe five years ago, the phones would have been their first instinct,” he says. “Now I think Facebook and Twitter have become a first reflex for people.”
He says that social expectations are rapidly evolving in Canada; customers now demand a response within 90 minutes compared to a week just two years ago, and social media managers are a growing workforce among carriers striving to keep up with demand.
“Just a few years ago, people turned to social media just to get basic information about a brand and a company, and now they want daily updates,” he says. “There is room to grow and there are so many possibilities. We can do customer service through social media, we can do awareness campaigns, we can do marketing campaigns – all of these aspects.”
Insurers straddling the social fences soon “won’t have a choice” in pursuing a strategy, Marquis says. For larger carriers, the opportunity exists to connect directly with social platforms to develop better customer services and experiences, Marquis says, adding that Aviva’s UK-based global headquarters works directly with networks on new technology. “They have direct contact with the social media providers to be able to implement structures that help us create platforms for customer service.”
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