Insurer IAG claims social media first for NZ

Social media use has evolved from claims and complaints to buying insurance, says this major insurer

Insurer IAG claims social media first for NZ

Insurance News

By Maryvonne Gray

IAG says it has achieved a New Zealand first and possibly an Australasian first too with its ability to offer ‘end to end’ social media customer service.

After launching on social media in December 2015, the company has evolved from simply offering improved communications with customers to upskilling QFE sales and service consultants who can now provide a quote via social media.

Tineke Bright, digital manager – digital strategy and innovation at IAG, said in the last three months alone, the company had had nearly 3,000 interactions with its customers on social media and had even sold three new policies.

Bright said: “We’re really proud of leading social media service in the insurance space - we look at it as pretty central to our strategy at group level because it’s the number one thing people do online, so I think that it’s a real competitive advantage for us at the moment.”

Bright said there were so many positives to be gained from following this route, with one being a clear shift in the overall sentiment coming through in social media exchanges.

“Initially we found a lot of our comments on Facebook were around claims and complaints about claims, which is as you’d expect from any insurance company,” she said.

“But what we’re finding is that sentiment is changing from quite aggressive to now more and more people are messaging us on social and we’ve seen it change from really, really negative to over half are really positive.

“One lady commented just this morning that she loved this Facebook method of managing insurance and that she’d be changing her other insurances over soon.”

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Bright added: “It also gives us the chance to talk to our customers more than the traditional once a year at renewal time or when we do broadcast messaging.

“This gives us a chance to talk to customers every single day and we can come back to them right away in real time.

“We are very careful not to use canned responses and this gives us a chance to really connect with our customers.”

Bright admits there was considerable resistance to taking the plunge with social media in the first instance.

“When I first joined the company our social media policy was just not to do social,” she explained.

“As everyone knows, insurance is quite a risk averse industry so there was much wringing of hands about whether we needed to be this transparent with our customers, but ultimately our CEO at the time, Jacki Johnson, was like ‘Absolutely!’ and we’ve had a complete transformation of culture.

“The reason being was that if they’re talking about us anyway on their own Facebook pages then we’re not part of the conversation and it’s all negative, but if we’re part of that conversation then we can hopefully turn it around for our customers and as it’s all in the public domain. If we do it really well then it’s really good for our reputation.”

Bright said it had not been a simple thing to implement, as it involved a vast number of people on board and on the same page before then training and upskilling them accordingly.

However, the team has become really passionate about the potential new career pathways it has carved and the extra skills they could now add to their CVs.

While it was still in its early development, Bright said the next challenge would be to work out how to scale it out to the banks and brokers.

“We’re really quite behind a lot of the international insurers overseas but I think we’ll see all insurers follow suit and that will make life better for all of us,” she said.

Related stories:
Aus/NZ insurance company Twitter tally ‘shockingly low’
Social media ‘the new Yellow Pages’

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