Bills and Statements Provide Opportunities for Better Relationships, More Revenue

The annual World Insurance Report, written and released by CapGemini and Efma, is bad news for insurers. The second section, which begins on page 13 of the 60 page report, found that “positive Customer Experience” was down compared to year prior by 8.3% in North America and 5.3% in Latin America. Less than 30% of customers using mobile or online channels to conduct business with Insurers reported a positive experience. Given the technology that exists and is available, this is alarming news. Unhappy experiences are among the most preventable ways to lose a customer.

Clearly, the Insurance industry—in particular the IT departments—need to look in the mirror. Either they aren’t implementing customer-facing technology well or they are installing the wrong technology for their customer’s needs. They can do better to fix this problem. Here’s how:

What is Customer Experience?

No matter how we earn a living, we are all customers of someone or something. So we should be able to relate to the idea of customer experience without great difficulty. Think of how you feel about a waiter who isn’t attentive, about a mechanic you just don’t trust, a customer service person who puts you on hold for long intervals…not good, right? So the concept is simple. Some experts from info-tech advisory firms have complicated it a bit: making customer experience about Big Data or analytics, for example.

Those are upper classman customer experience factors. For the rest of us, the simple rules still apply: treat others as you would be treated. Don’t complicate their lives. Don’t confuse them with razzle dazzle and hundred dollar words when a simple explanation is all that is needed. Apply the first rule of the showman: give the people what they want. It doesn’t matter if you are juggling chainsaws, serving them a cheeseburger or mailing them a bill: give the people what they want. That’s a big part of the customer experience.

Because let’s face it: customers don’t come into the store that much anymore. They don’t read your blogs as much as you would hope. They don’t call, they never write. You know how you communicate with customers, about 90% of the time? You send them a bill.

Think about it: you send them a bill that comes every month-- through whatever channel—and you have a regular, reliable way to touch base with them. In addition to saying, you owe me X amount, you can give them a coupon for being such good customers for remitting their payments on time.

You can send them a survey that says, “How can we serve YOU better?

You can give them some helpful hints about how to have better health, save more money, or use their technology better.

There is a world of opportunity on that billing statement

Not everyone will take advantage of it, but that’s alright. This is your chance to offer them a better deal, a different deal, a new deal. You can say, “I notice you use our service in this way, maybe you should change things up and save yourself some money.”

Because when it comes to customer experience, every little bit helps. You can send them the bill in living color. Some people probably like black and white but others appreciate color. It’s not just for junk mail anymore. And the beauty part is that every month you have the chance to make their experience with your company better. Every time you send a bill you have an opportunity to give them a better customer experience. And it’s not just about content. The delivery of that bill can make their customer experience better, too.

Because how they get the bill is a big part of their customer experience. Some people want to open a piece of mail. They like the solidity of a mailed envelope. They like to know for sure where it came from. Other people prefer the web. Why bother with mail when you can do it by email? And then there is Gen Y.

Gen Y are those folks born anywhere from the 80s to the early 2000s. The youngest are teens, the oldest are having families. They are tech savvy, like to influence one another, impatient with the aforementioned black and white and always seeking new ways to use technology. They watch classic films by themselves on their iPads and have no idea what they are missing by not watching it on a big screen in a full theater. They don’t care.

But you know what they do care about? Technology. Technology is what separates them from us. Technology is what binds them together. Remember the recent Baltimore protests and riots? It was all started by a Twitter message referring to a film most of them have seen (Purge) and many of us have not. The point wasn’t the protest as much as it was the channel. If you were one of them, you got that message. For Gen Y, the medium is truly the message. Remember the mom in the yellow dress yanking her kid off the street? He ignored her calls. He ignored texts. My kids do that all the time.

To them, a mobile device is freedom and connection. Connection with one another, not us. It’s not a leash. If you try to yank it, they resist. You probably gave them the phone to keep them safe, so you know where they are, so they are never out of touch. That’s probably why you got them that device. But that’s not how they view it. To them, phones are for kids. Other kids.

Social media and mobile are the binding elements

It’s for cementing their generational prerogatives, not for being called home for supper. It’s for Instagram. And Twitter. And Snapchat. Social media and mobile are the binding elements of the entire generation. They may or may not care about religion, politics, whatever: what they care about is the channel. They care about the medium. It gives them In-Group status. It makes us the Out-Group. In the world of Gen Y, Out-Groups are not based on race, or religion, or sexual orientation. Those are “all good.” What matters is how connected you are and via what channel. For these kids, “social mobility” means something else entirely from what it means to us.

Here’s another example: I was in Westminster once, in London. It was a weekend and it was quiet there. All of a sudden, young people came pouring out of the tube station. I thought it was a protest or a mass demonstration. They kept coming. For about an hour, just hanging out. Nothing happened. No speeches. No concert. Nothing. Just hanging out. And then, as quickly as they arrived, they left. The disappeared into the tube station and left us there.
It was a pub crawl. Someone tweeted out the next destination. And they all went. That’s the power of mobility and social media. They mobilized a thousand kids to do absolutely nothing.

Why the soliloquy about social media and mobility? Because for the Gen Y crowd that you do business with, mobility is the customer experience. That is first and foremost what they want. So the headline here is that these young people are 25-33% of your market. As a portion of your market, their numbers and importance to you is only going to continue to grow. You dare not ignore this problem. You dare not ignore this opportunity. They’ve never known life without technology driving it, so the idea that they might grow out of it, as earlier generations have as they matured, is a non-starter. They are only going to continue experimenting with new technology and finding new channels to open. And you better keep up or you will lose them.

According to the World Insurance Report, the positive customer experience of Gen Y dropped by nearly 11%, compared to an increase in positive customer experience for older clients. And since they don’t actually talk or meet face to face with people, it’s not about training your agents or bringing the customer service department home from India. The negative rating indicates an extreme unhappiness with your billing and statement preparation. They are reacting to things like channel availability, attachment load time, interactivity and other values that they find more integral to their experience as a customer than did past generations. Your document output operation has never been more important. And whether you outsource it or host it inside, as a business leader, as an IT leader, as an operations leader—you better get on top of it.

So what do you do about it?

First, ask yourself how your mobile presentment strategy is working. The report clearly shows that 58% of Gen Y think the mobile channel is important, compared to 25% of older customers. So while you still have to satisfy your traditional mail customers—it’s not going away—you also have to add this channel to the mix. Truth is, your entire business model may be changing. Insurers have always relied on agents as the face of the business. But, as indicated earlier, Gen Yers don’t particularly like face to face communication. And so the agent channel is less important now than it was even a year or two ago.  Mobile and Internet channels are what counts. And guess what? That’s true not only for Gen Y but for your other customers, too. They like doing business online. You may have to shift resources from agents to digital. You’re going to need a strategy for that. Part of that strategy will be to avoid duplicating processes, putting a new process in for mobile that will co-exist along the processes that lead to paper mail or email delivery.

Second, you also need to know what you know or don’t know about your customer to improve their experience.  Ask yourself these questions: what metadata do you have at your disposal to improve the experience?  What metadata would you like to have to improve the customer experience?  Many times the data we already have can serve our needs perfectly.  Other times the metadata we have can serve as building blocks to create the information environment we need to serve our “new era” of customers in the way they would prefer.

The easiest way to build this customer-friendly experience is to have a powerful set of tools to build and shape the data you have or the data you need.  When you have the right tools you can take the information you already have about your customers, and bring in external data about the demographics of your customers. Once you know who they are you are on your way to building a great customer experience.

If you are looking for a tech consultant to help you, Compart is a good place to start. Our approach is to separate channel streams at the last possible moment in the process. So AFP goes to the printers and viewers, PDF to the archives and HTML5 to the mobile and internet driven devices. It’s all a single process until the last mile. That way, there is no duplication, there is not inefficiency or unnecessary cost, and the customer gets what they want where and how they want it. That’s a good deal for everybody and one that you can’t afford to miss out on…

I’ll give the final word to the Report: “Effective channel management is expected to play an enormous role in insurers’ success in providing positive customer experiences in the future. Our data shows that channel usage and preferences are in a state of flux. As a result, insurers will need to satisfy the desire of some customers for the comfort and familiarity of traditional channels, while at the same time meeting the needs of others for faster, more convenient service…Along every measure, insurers have ample opportunity to improve their practices and procedures, and ultimately achieve better performance. The way forward involves adopting a more customer-centric approach to every type of insurance activity, thus ensuring that heightened customer experience expectations are met.”

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