The COVID-19 pandemic has brought healthcare and economic crisis across the world; as a result, humans had to change the way they live and work. Several parts of daily life and business are challenged. The new normal may be a lot different from the present because almost all types of companies are trying to find new ways to carry out operations. Meanwhile, companies are putting their best effort into surviving the pandemic – for instance, producing and implementing an effective crisis response, having appropriate policies concerning employees’ well-being, focusing on customer satisfaction and retention.
Since customers are given the utmost importance, leading insurers are working on their efforts to improve customer experience in order to meet their needs. By continuously delivering what consumers expect during this crisis, insurance companies can lay the foundation of goodwill and long-term relationships with communities.
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How Can Insurers Engage Customers Amidst Social Distancing?
1) Provide Practical Help to Financially-distressed Customers
Financial security is everyone’s concern, and in times of a crisis, customer expectations increase, especially from their insurance provider. Moreover, as companies in almost all sectors were forced to reduce operational activities for some time, millions of small business owners and employees had faced substantial financial issues.
Providing practical solutions to customers when they are dealing with financial challenges is a massive responsibility for insurers, which can also prove to be a significant trust driver. For instance, financial institutions had not put penalties on customers for not meeting payment obligations in March and April. Telcos has not terminated services or levied late-payment fees for customers who experienced hardship in these two months. Similarly, energy suppliers did not shut off power against nonreceipt of payment; travel companies and several airlines allowed customers to cancel their bookings without deducting cancellation fees.
2) Collaborate and Innovate
Insurance companies can take help from third-party service providers or temporary resources to fulfill customers’ increased demands. For example, an insurer has new products to offer that have the potential to win customers’ interest, but they don’t have the real means to make these products reach the masses. For this, they can hire a marketing firm to promote the products to reach people who need them most. Likely, they can collaborate with insurance BPO service providers that can help them reduce operational burden in times of high demand.
By outsourcing just a few hectic, time-consuming, and labor-intensive insurance processes, you as an insurer can free up your valuable time that you can invest in grabbing leads and increasing sales, which actually boost your revenue and fulfill most needs of your business.
You are not limited to collaboration; with the availability of several technologies that can help the insurance industry thrive, you can improve processes, and this will help you improve customer experience in the long run. For instance, automation can be used to process claims; cloud solutions can be used to allow customers to fill forms through the internet and upload documents that your executives can access anytime from anywhere, boosting the overall operational and processing speed.
3) Help Customers Reduce Mental Stress
Many people were forced not to come out of their homes and experienced several issues with the shutdown implementation. Many companies acted to make consumers’ life a little more relaxed.
Families had to keep their children occupied to kill their boredom at home for weeks, and this was the point where online content became a need. Telcos provided unlimited data for free for a couple of months to all their mobile customers who had a subscription to data plans. Entertainment companies, for example – Walt Disney Company, released Frozen 2 (a family-friendly blockbuster) on Disney+ three months earlier than the decided date. Similarly, New York’s Metropolitan Opera broadcasted digital shows for free to keep their audiences entertained virtually; Google Arts & Culture had joined hands with museums across the globe to provide customers with a virtual touring experience.
Insurance companies can also do such initiatives and add such services to their products; for instance, they can provide free access to online content on the purchase of insurance.
4) Take Customers Online
With people still reluctant to physically visit an office to acquire services, insurers that have been operating from company premises had to bring customers to their online portals for easy sale and insurance claims management.
For example, fitness centers were closed by government orders; however, they redirected their customers to virtual fitness training sessions in order to continue their business. Companies offering virtual meeting platforms helped corporations conduct meetings with ease. Similarly, schools and universities are still using different applications to provide tuitions to students in a virtual setting. Banks have started taking more of their services online and opened several self-service platforms that customers can use for their convenience. Courts have begun virtual hearing; medical providers are offering care using digital tools with health insurers’ help in this initiative.
Insurers need to offer some online platforms where customers and new buyers can find required help and new products anytime and anywhere they can.
5) Provide Customers an Easy Access to Reach You
When everything (including supermarkets and banks) was closed, many customers faced issues while seeking attention, care, and answers to their queries. To counter these issues, businesses started offering extended-hours for customer care. Many service companies experienced an increased flow of calls that made them shift to remote-working arrangements. Even with more customer care executives and centers, millions of customers waited on call for long periods to get connected or be provided with a solution.
Therefore, insurers need to prioritize customer support, for which they can run their contact centers around-the-clock in multiple shifts. A majority of queries are related to claims, and insurers need to train their staff so that they can make representatives capable enough to address customers’ emerging issues and needs.
6) Develop Your Product Portfolio According to the Situation
Insurers need to do brainstorming and build products that consumers need the most in the current situation. Let’s get back in time to see what others did during the initial months of the COVID-19 outbreak. There was a huge demand for personal protective products and medical equipment, considering which several apparel manufacturing companies stepped into making face masks that are still highly required across the globe; similarly, liquor production companies moved to make hand sanitizers to fulfill the increasing demand. Not just these, some automotive manufacturers shifted to manufacturing ventilators – General Motors partnered with a US-based company to manufacture respiratory care equipment.
Apart from that, rideshare companies used their network of drivers to deliver urgently-required medicine and daily goods. This initiative helps thousands of people who were unable to get out of their homes to make a purchase and meet their daily and medical needs. Taking such examples, insurers can also collaborate and build a new product portfolio to stay committed to their customers and society.
The insurance sector is facing reality – It is now a well-known fact that COVID-19 will continue to affect customers, investors, employees, stakeholders, suppliers, etc. However, the long-term severity of the crisis is yet to come up in front. As new issues and challenges emerge in the sector, insurers need to take smart steps to become ready to face what is not expected. They must utilize tools and resources they currently have in place along with improving staff skills and considering technological investments; because all of this will help them lock in new opportunities coming out of changing market circumstances and thrive in the years to come.
Mika works at Cogneesol as an insurance industry expert, specializing in an insurance policy drafting, claims administration, commission management, and more. She also loves to write about the latest trends and technology in the insurance industry.