Insurance agencies are failing to meet customer expectations: Report

Insurance agencies are failing to meet customer expectations: Report | Insurance Business

Insurance agencies are failing to meet customer expectations: Report
Independent agents and brokers are falling behind in providing their clients with the kind of customer experience many insurance shoppers now expect, a joint report from Market Insight Group and Applied Systems reveals.
 
The report, “Adaptability: The insurance customer experience imperative in an online digital mobile society,” is based on a recent survey of 1,200 North American and UK agency/brokerage owners and customer service representatives (CSRs). According to the results, independents both fail to understand the expectations of today’s consumer and do not have the resources to bring those expectations into reality.
 
Nearly 90% of North American agents, for example, identified email and face-to-face meetings (F2F) as the primary methods they plan to use in interacting with clients in the next two to four years. Researchers at Market Insight Group aren’t certain this is the best strategy.
 

 
“Insurance firms believe that email and face-to-face communications will reign supreme in the next two to four years. Possibly,” the report said. “But we believe that this will depend on the line of insurance, the nature of the interaction, and the desires of the customers concerning the interaction options they want to use.”
 
Researchers said they are “doubtful” F2F will still be important for personal life property/casualty insurance, and are similarly unconvinced that F2F will satisfy the increasingly important small business customer.
 
Given the time crunch facing small business owners, researchers do not believe such customers will be satisfied with F2F “for administrative transactions or even investing their time in email threads to get service interaction resolved.”
 
Instead, consumers are much more likely to look for click-to-chat or click-to-call options for interacting with their insurance agent. Indeed, while most agencies seem to rely on communication platforms in Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the following Market Insight Group graph, customer are starting to show dependency on platforms offered in Phases 3 and 4.
 

 
Unfortunately, agency owners say providing customers with these technologies is difficult thanks to time and budget constraints, as well as a lack of appropriately skilled staff.
 

 
These kinds of mismatches could come back to hurt agencies in the very near future, the report authors say.
 
“Technology advances are ratcheting up customers’ expectations of immediacy, ease of use, and accessibility of people and information, regardless of where they are or the time of day,” the report says. “Insurance firms and their teams have to become adept at using these technologies in order to offer strong [customer experience].”
 
The report authors suggest insurance agencies create a “practical vision” of how clients will want to interact in the next two to four years, prioritize those strategies—particularly client self-service portals and mobile capabilities—and consider reaching out to technology vendors to create solutions.

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