As insurers have tried to help customers avoid long waiting times at call centres, offering a good digital experience has become the prime focus – and, according to one insurer, having a solid digital customer interaction process is now a necessity, and has a strong influence over where customers choose to get their policies.
NZ Post research conducted last year showed that $1 of every $4 spent in New Zealand in the first six months of 2020 was online - 30% higher than the same six months the previous year - and even those who didn’t traditionally shop online had started doing it more often.
When it comes to conducting essential transactions online, AA Insurance digital delivery manager Kato’one Kaho said that customers no longer see insurers as competing with other online retailers. Instead, they are part of an increasingly competitive supermarket of online offerings, where the ease of digital interaction may well be the deciding factor on who gets the purchase.
“I think there is a great opportunity in this space for our industry. In this digitised age, customers no longer think of us as the insurance company versus their experience with Amazon or the supermarket, or whatever else they do online,” Kaho said.
“Customers have now had over 20 months in lockdown, so it’s become much more of an issue if you’re on a platform that is not working so well. That prompts the customer to consider whether you’re really offering a good service, and whether they should be going somewhere else.”
“This creates a really good opportunity for us to catch up with the customer and their expectations, because where they may have been OK with an ‘average’ online experience in the past, they’re not happy with that anymore now that so much of their life is conducted online,” she said.
“When the pandemic started, we had to put everything down and put a lot of work into our online resources, particularly to support our staff.”
Kaho said that investing in digital resources had been equally important for staff as it was for customers, and with Auckland in lockdown for at least another week, recreating a “virtual office environment” was key to ensuring that staff were able to continue assisting customers with as much energy and motivation as they have throughout the pandemic.
“I don’t know if we nailed it, but it’s been referred to as “putting your own mask on first before you help others”, and we had to role model that as leaders, and also train our staff to do that,” Kaho said.
“We put different virtual activities in place, and just tried to reinvent virtually what happens in the office - and also to have the opportunity to express if something is not going well.”
“I know that we’re all after a good customer experience, and it’s fantastic that our staff have been so concerned about customers,” she added. “They’re really going over and above, but we really want to ensure that we role model looking after yourself first.”