Jerry Hall, Business Development Manager - SSP for Insurers Australia and New Zealand, discusses his views on why organisations often miss out on opportunities, how leading brands are setting the bar high and the common pitfalls tripping up insurers today.
Most organisations engage customers by: informing, stimulating, influencing and ultimately attracting them to do business. This is closely followed by servicing them effectively and ensuring that they are satisfied, loyal and ‘advocates’ of the product or service.
With the unstoppable tides of the digital age offering more opportunities for customers to voice their advocation, or not in many cases, reaching the highest level of satisfaction, and giving customers something to ‘shout about’, is becoming increasingly important, but this is often being missed.
In its newest “Best Global Brand” report, Interbrand named companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook as the “top risers” of 2013 for acquiring legions of ‘advocates’ whilst transforming the way we work, play and communicate. These companies are constantly evaluating their products, eliminating offerings that are no longer relevant or profitable, and introducing new ones. This responsive approach shows that they clearly pay attention to what their customers want and don’t want. This is an obvious reason why the overall brand appreciation is so high.
Unfortunately over the last decade many businesses have disengaged with their customers by moving to lower-cost, self-service channels. Today the reality is that over 80% of customer service interactions no longer involve talking to a real person. Gartner forecast that 70% of businesses shifting customer support to online communities would drive down customer satisfaction. Of course there are financial and technological reasons to move customer service in this direction, but if it’s not done correctly it can have an adverse effect on your business through lack of the all-important customer advocacy.
So what mistakes are being made when delivering a customer engagement strategy that both meets customer expectations and delivers against other business objectives? These issues might seem obvious, but often companies are still making the same mistakes.
The first mistake
The first one is the largest – a lack of understanding. Identifying and defining each customer segment and understanding their wants and needs are vital. There are now a host of tools to ensure customer segmentation is right from the beginning. There is traditional profiling, customer insight data, the advances in big data, and the information from social sources such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
Once this is understood, ensuring the propositions are designed to match customers’ expectations.
The second mistake
If there is one thing that will annoy customers it is being let down, even if the product or service is of deliverable quality. As an example, in car insurance, insurers can use data intelligence to target profitable customer segments and build a customer journey in order to retain them. Leading organisations are now working on the concept of intent-driven customer processing. This concept employs advanced analytics and technologies to deliver customer journeys that match expectations and business profitability requirements.
The third mistake
Once the engagement process is underway, businesses then need to focus on the key moment of differentiation that can make or break the customer experience.
Focusing engagement resources on differentiated customer touch-points and, in particular, key ‘moments of truth’ enables an organisation to deliver the intended experience. This further strengthens the brand promise, customer lifetime value and loyalty. Systems and customer processes must be optimised to deliver against each segment’s experience. Employees that directly interact with customers need a single view of each customer to ensure the delivery of consistent and personalised experience.
The design and delivery of relevant customer engagements in insurance will require on-going refinement in order to follow the leading brands mentioned earlier. But ensuring what matters most for each customer group is discovered, analysed and further developed upon is a step in the right direction.
This evaluation process is most effective when it takes into consideration customers’ emotional engagement. This is what data gurus know can be sourced from social analytics taken from customer interactions including telephone conversations, text and web actions. Whatever the source, the key is having that information and then acting on the customer feedback.
Attaining customer advocacy through customer engagement is not easy, but there’s no reason for organisations to not to achieve this if the necessary steps are taken and the common pitfalls are avoided along the way.
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