Customer experience is an essential component of the transformational journey.
In fact, transforming the customer experience is a new and powerful organizational shift that can bring about quantum change. It can also create amazing, quantum impacts and improvements without huge IT investments or years of time. And, not only will an improved customer experience have a positive effect on retention, it will drive operational optimization as well.
In all my years of working in insurance and technology, I have never experienced anything with such a magnitude of power and potential to change. Nothing can move true transformation like changing the perspective, or “flipping the lens,” on customer experience.
It all begins with shifting away from the traditional inside-out, customer-service driven focus and flipping the lens toward an outside-in, empathy-driven, customer-experience focus. And it does not matter who you call the customer. Some insurers consider their agents or other distribution partners to be the customer. Others view the policyholder as the customer. Some consider both to be customers and even extend it to other stakeholders as well.
It requires a new look through a new lens to understand the customers’ roles, motivations, goals and pain points to begin to have an empathy that drives a new and different operational response. That response must include a redesign for the ease and quality of customer interactions and deliver value in each and across all interactions. With empathy as an integral part of the lens, the conversation changes. With the common goal being the customer, silos are broken down, and organizations are changed. It’s quite powerful.
SMA believes that eight customer-experience areas need attention, focus, and investment as your company launches into and matures in customer experience (CX). Embracing customer experience throughout an organization requires transforming traditional strategies, workflows, processes, and technologies in each of the areas so that they become an organic part of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. The eight areas are:
- Advanced user experience designs;
- Customer analytics;
- Customer empowerment;
- Customer-experience driven metrics;
- Customer journey mapping;
- The Service Blueprint;
- The Customer Experience Playbook; and
- The culture shift from service to experience.
SMA recently released a report that assesses each area in terms of insurers’ investment levels, maturity levels, the business areas that will be most affected, and current or emerging trends in each area for commercial lines insurers: 8 Critical Investments for Customer Experience Excellence: State of Commercial Lines Investments, Adoption, and Maturity.
How to start?
Education is the first step toward advancing and embracing customer experience across the enterprise. Understanding the customer is the only sure way to be able to provide the customer with the experiences that they want — and the experiences that will cement the relationship of trust and loyalty between the insurer and the customer.
The importance of empathy cannot be understated. Every effort made by the insurer to put themselves in the shoes of the customer will result in better customer experiences. And the goal to give customers excellence in service goes beyond supplying mere customer satisfaction. The key is to infuse empathy into the insurer-customer relationship. And that involves caring, understanding, personalization, and commitment. The technologies, resources, and initiatives deployed to this end will benefit the customers – as well as the insurers as they position for success in the digital connected world.
Deb Smallwood is founder & CEO of Strategy Meets Action, is a strategic advisory firm delivering advice, consulting services, and published research to insurers, solution providers, and InsurTech startups. These opinions are her own.
This blog post published first on the SMA website and is republished here with the author’s consent.
Join NU|PC360 and a panel of insurance industry thought leaders for the upcoming complimentary webcast, “More Than a Buzzword: How to Improve Customer Experience & Loyalty,” happening at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.