Navigating technology: Customer service tools for a reliable and rewarding experience
Beyond your staff, the customer defines the agency. You celebrate retention and the ability to expand your relationships with additional coverages. But what happens when success creates a larger book size and additional service demands?
As you consider all of the give and take that transpires within the customer journey, you likely note the areas of operation that would benefit from the assistance of technology. Remember, it is in our best interest to plan where we will be in the next year(s) with the help of technology and determine what we can do in the short term or 90 days to impact that goal(s). We have compiled a list of solutions categories that are available now and help reallocate resources and win back time to invest in meaningful engagements with your customers.
There is discussion in the industry which suggests a future with complete conversation automation, including the use of chat bots on website properties and texting platforms. Relinquishing your client communication to computer-generated responses raises a red flag because nuance and intent are sometimes too sophisticated for technology to decipher. Conversely, using chat solutions to begin simple “yes/no” decisioning that helps funnel customers to appropriate next steps or an agency associate is an efficient first step.
- Website chat solution to welcome online guests and segment into sales and customer funnels
- Texting alerts and updates on renewal and claim events to stay in front of the customer
- Quote starts to capture customer data and pre-fill forms during the sales process and leading up to renewal
Learn more: Enhancing your website to attract and retain clients
Customer portals were pioneered by agency management systems and insurance carriers. The technology is valuable because it provides digitized support and access that was historically reserved for in-office visits. As solutions continue to hit the market, we have witnessed growth in the agency customer portal category. Because independent agencies have multiple appointments, there is demand for the added benefit of a self-contained experience that bridges into its carrier partners when necessary. There are products that are branded for and managed by the agency to store policy-related documents, integrate with payment processors and publish contact data and access points for specific sales, service and claims activities.
Nationwide recently partnered with Glovebox to help independent agencies provide a branded service experience through desktop and mobile applications. Referred to as the client experience platform, Glovebox includes connections to carriers, access to policy documents, automated communication through chat technology and even the ability to provide quotes for select policy types.
- Connection to agency websites to provide customers access to policy documents
- Collect risk profile information following the sale of the policy and before renewal—–including updated and additional driver records, new products and services offered by a small business as it expands operations, and other personal and professional updates that require additional coverage–to ensure accurate data for future quoting and cross-sell opportunities
- Creating a semblance of 24/7/365 service to differentiate from competitors
Learn more: Why agents should add a client portal to their website
Retention is your claim to fame. Your agency takes pride in providing exceptional service and promotes its customer dedication as the key to a long and lasting relationship. These days, marketing language is best served with objective data to prove the claim. In an age where businesses are vying for market position, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become the barometer for judging customer loyalty. “Would you recommend our agency” using a 0 to 10 scale—with 10 being the highest achievement—is the simple concept behind the score. It is now common for customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation solutions to build this capability into the platform and send the survey as part of the agency’s communication strategy. In addition, customer satisfaction surveys following onboarding, claims events and renewals are also possible to ensure processes are meeting expectations.
- Measuring the sentiment of your customers at any point in the customer lifecycle
- Segment data to score your internal staff based on feedback from customers
- Compare your agency to local and national competitors
Payment intake is typically different depending on the line of business. Personal lines policies, including home and auto, are in many cases collected and managed by the carrier. The agency provides a simple link from its web property and/or customer portal to the appropriate carrier website that manages the entire payment process. Commercial lines policies include agency involvement and may leverage the agency management system with integrated payment platforms. We have seen a rise in payment solutions and the way that they treat the experience. From simple pay and go interactions that provide the ability to pass processing and convenience fees to the customer to tools that offer premium financing and payment plans, payment platforms are evolving in much the same way that we have witnessed in the retail space. Owning the payment experience is just another way to expedite manual tasks while ensuring a consistent branded experience for the customer that drives additional satisfaction with less effort and expense.
- Feature of the agency website or customer portal that completes the transaction at the point of sale
- Appended to automated email and text communications reminding customers to make a payment after approving the quote and upon renewal
- Promoted in tandem with a list of digital capabilities that attract customers who favor an efficient and tech-forward approach
Scale becomes a balancing act that requires careful consideration on when to rely on tools and when to ramp up on recruitment and hiring activities. Because expenses impact profitability and uncontrollable outside forces influence claims, commissions and policy demands, there are only so many levers you can pull to create efficiency. Service automation continues to grow, and you have access to tools that assist your customer engagement. Remember to make a list of your needs that focus on automating high volume, repetitive customer tasks and then determine which solutions will make an immediate impact.
Read more of our navigating technology series
Part 1: How to simplify technology decisions by asking four fundamental questions about your agency
Part 2: Controlling the conversation with providers
Part 3: How to measure agency technology
Part 4: Sales innovation that increases efficiency
Part 5: Quoting innovations that assist agency growth
Part 6: Agency management system capabilities for growth and retention
The information included in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, including subject matter experts, to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2022 Nationwide.