Author: Brad Epker
Everyone knows that Chicago is known as the “Windy City”, and yes, it has a breeze that comes off Lake Michigan. But not everyone is aware that the Windy City moniker also has to do with the prevalence of political conventions and campaigning in the late 1800s, and really nothing to do with mother nature’s wind. Basically, there was a lot of talk, but action and results were often lacking.
In the past 9 weeks, I’ve attended 3 insurance industry conferences with a focus on insurance technology–specifically digital connections with customers. They included InsureTech Connect and Dig-In Analytics and AI and ended with Connected Insurance USA in Chicago. As it turned out, I found that digital insurance shows have similarities to the “Windy City”.
Many good discussions. Now what?
Don’t get me wrong, the desire to improve the insurance customer experience is very real. The conference attendees I spoke with knew well that every step of the process, from new Customer Acquisition, to filing claims had room for improvement. We all sat through a number of presentations and spoke with dozens of exhibitors on that exact topic. The big idea factory was a full swing!
At the same time, when I asked about major digital initiatives around customer engagement or messaging, there actually weren’t as many current plans or projects as I would have thought. Where was the action? I wondered.
I do understand that up until now, technology has mostly been applied around risk modeling and related analytics that help keep insurers profitable. I can also see that insurance products aren’t exactly top of mind except when you first initiate a policy or when you need to use it. Given this, I am still surprised that there isn’t more urgency around improving the customer communications experience.
In my mind, the most obvious trend that insurers and insurance agents can’t and should not ignore is the movement of consumer communications to a “text” first approach. I personally don’t talk to anyone of importance on the phone without texting them first. This would certainly include businesses if they would just provide me that option. And if I can take care of my entire communications needs via text, then why would I pick up the phone and waste not only my time, but the time of the customer service person on the other end of the line?
Therefore, I can’t help but wonder why insurance companies aren’t following the communications evolution away from leading with phone or email and even native mobile apps to leading with texting, social messaging and the mobile web. After all, it will save not only the carrier time and money, but more importantly it will save customers like me time and money.
SMS Messaging for Insurance – The Customer Journey
New Customer Acquisition and Policy Quotes via SMS
New customer acquisition was the top of mind subject for most of the insurance companies I met. This makes sense since many consumers, myself included, tend to shop around every few years to see if they can save money on their insurance policies. You can find loyalty in fashion, travel and electronics, but less so in insurance. Larger, established companies can often rely on their existing reputation, but newer more innovating companies are entering the market and differentiation is becoming more difficult. It’s mainly about premium cost.
This is why I think focusing on the communications piece is so important. By providing SMS messaging as an option to reach out for information and quotes, insurers can immediately start the process of building more personalized relationships with prospective customers. This quick and familiar responsiveness could be the difference between choosing one company over another.
Customer Service – Filing Claims via SMS
Despite the dramatic rise in mobile device usage across almost every industry worldwide, overall native mobile app downloads are decreasing, significantly.* So even if insurance companies have a mobile app, the chances of it being downloaded and used are going down every year as mobile web sites improve and mobile web apps, like Chatbox Instant Apps, offer even greater flexibility and personalization opportunities.
LIke most others I am no longer downloading native apps, mainly because of the password hassels. Therefore I can’t help but think other customers like me would love to initiate an insurance claim with a simple text message like, “I have had an accident”. The nature of text messaging compared to a phone call is quicker and less intrusive for everyone. I believe a typical claims agent could handle 10-12 inbound texts at a time versus only one customer phone call. I can’t help but also believe those numbers could go up dramatically by adding in some text based AI automation like chatbots to handle some of the data gathering processes that are needed in claims.
Oh the Places They Could Go
While Customer Acquisition and Claims were top of mind at all of the events, there are so many other great use cases for messaging channels in the insurance industry, including advance notifications of major events that can influence future claims (severe weather, wildfires, etc.), annual policy check ups and requesting customer feedback.
It’s evident that insurers are looking for innovative ways to acquire and serve customers via digital channels. Now it’s time to give them a push to do it.
Brad Epker has over 30 years enterprise sales and sales management, with time split between Fortune 500 C+ sales experience and start-up sales and market development leadership. He received his MBA in Technology Management from the University of Washington and currently serves as Chatbox’s Chief Revenue Officer.
In addition, Brad has extensive experience within the Salesforce ecosystem helping companies maintain strong, profitable ISV partnerships. He joined Chatbox after watching traditional communication effectiveness plummet, while text messaging effectiveness continues to increase. Chatbox now brings this power and efficacy to business.