The insurance industry is missing opportunities to improve results by providing the web experience its customers have come to expect from other markets.
Potential insurance customers turn to the Internet when shopping for policies, with a quarter exclusively using their mobile or tablet devices to compare options. According to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, 74 percent of those surveyed use insurer websites or aggregators to obtain quotes and research information. While a majority of people have shifted from agent-exclusive shopping to online comparison shopping, it doesn’t mean that the process is seamless or pleasant. Consumers are often frustrated by the inconsistent user experience, the difficulty navigating websites, as well as the challenge of connecting to a live person for questions. According to the 2016 Eptica Insurance Multichannel Customer Experience Study, which evaluated 100 of the leading insurance carriers in the U.S., nearly half (46%) of consumers said they would spend just five minutes searching for information on an insurer’s website before giving up and going elsewhere. Consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the overall experience, especially millennials, who have consistently rated insurance low on the satisfaction scale when compared to other industries.
Given these findings, it’s no surprise that creating the“right” customer experience is top of mind for many insurers who realize that online shoppers represent their biggest untapped market. However, it can be difficult to know how to offer the best overall interaction with the right customers at the right time. Most consumers express similar frustrations with the online insurance shopping experience:
- They want to compare rates from multiple carriers more easily.
- They want to have an easy option to speak to an agent to answer questions or easily find self-service answers on the website.
- They expect prompt responses from carriers.
- They want to be able to use their mobile and tablet devices and have a seamless experience across all media.
Carriers who have failed to meet these expectations have pushed high-intent online consumers offline, due to frustration, lack of usability, or a less-than-seamless experience. In fact, while nearly 75 percent of consumers start their search online, only 10 percent actually buy their policy online. Carriers are confronted with an enormous missed opportunity.
Unfortunately, too many insurers in the U.S. tend to be stuck in an “analog world” without responding to a customer’s needs accurately or efficiently, according to the aforementioned Eptica survey. For example:
- 14 percent of U.S. insurers failed to respond successfully on any sort of preferred digital channel, whether it was email, social media, or chat.
- Most carriers responded via email (37%) compared to other digital channels, but the average response time was appalling: nearly two days to a response.
It’s no wonder consumers are fed up. If carriers have the online resources for consumers to peruse and research policy options, they should also be able to provide better support to consumers who need more information to move forward in the online sales process.
Carriers are aware of these problems, but not enough have taken the necessary steps to fix the problem. It seems that for many carriers they do not properly prioritize good customer experience because they do not understand what it entails. Online insurance shoppers are not simply comparing carriers to one another. They are comparing them to other websites and industries that have been far quicker to react to technology shifts. For example, a recent study found that 40 percent of insurance research time was spent on smartphones and tablets, but that most don’t finish there because carrier websites are not optimized for a mobile experience. Compare that to the seamless customer interaction of companies like Amazon, Google, eBay, and a host of others who have spent considerable capital on refining customer interaction until it is nearly flawless—with mobile UX as a core part of that strategy.
While there are a number of major points of contention that consumers have with the online shopping experience, it’s important for carriers to remember one thing: Meet the consumers where they are before they are even your customers. In order to do that, there are three mindsets that leadership within carriers needs to embrace:
- Prioritize your digital presence: Tech solutions that help ease the customer experience and streamline the process are essential. A demographic shift that is well underway means that more and more consumers are looking to shop online because they trust and prefer the online process. The digital channel will become the primary source for many shoppers to research and make a purchase. Carriers must shift their mindset to make this a priority and invest in the future.
- Let data inform your decisions: “Omnichannel” is a buzzword that’s often used to reach people in their preferred channels, but it’s become painfully clear that carriers must connect customer experience to all channels in a far more seamless way. This requires a shift in thinking – data can offer a holistic view into who the customer is, how best to reach them and how to solve the channel problem by providing a cohesive experience across each customer touchpoint. Data can help align strategy for each channel.
- Reframe the way you think about the consumer: It’s important to know that not every visitor to your site is a potential customer, but each is taking away something valuable – a perception of your brand and the value you provide. Carriers who provide value by giving consumers information in a clear and concise manner in one place can help the consumer and themselves. For example, a new revenue stream for a carrier comes from displaying comparison options on their website. This greatly enhances a carrier’s value and perception to consumers. At the same time, the carrier receives revenue every time a shopper clicks on a comparison option from another carrier. Not only are carriers giving shoppers convenience and choice, but also creating a steady revenue stream that did not exist previously. This shift in mindset to provide consumers what they need will help both the consumers and the carriers in the long run.
The insurance industry is missing opportunities to improve results by providing the web experience its customers have come to expect from other markets. Adopting these three mindsets will go a long way to help bridge the gap by improving customer satisfaction and as a result, driving better bottom line results.
This article appeared in Insurance Innovation Reporter, a business-to-business media brand focused on the insurance industry’s use of information technology in support of business goals.