We are in the midst of tremendous focus and investment in technology to drive customer acquisition in the insurance industry. The proliferation of available information, as well as the emergence of comparison-shopping sites, make it easier than ever for policyholders to compare rates and commoditize the insurance market.
New digital disruptors and digital native companies are taking advantage of this evolved landscape to offer products and services at low costs and with unprecedented convenience. We’ve seen this digital shift impact most industries, from Amazon in retail to Warby Parker in eyewear.
True, it’s taken longer for the insurance industry to feel this impact. But, in recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of many digital native carriers using technology to attract new customers – and they’re doing this while offering policies at a low rate, with a simplified process, and a well-optimized mobile experience.
While technology has fueled a new wave of fierce price competition, it has also enabled new ways for carriers to differentiate and personalize their offerings. By investing in and optimizing digital experiences – particularly the online payment experience – carriers can more effectively reduce policyholder churn and remain competitive.
Here are just a few ways technology helps insurance carriers effectively improve the policyholder experience and drive incredible business benefits.
1. It improves personalization
It’s understandable that insurance carriers would look at the change happening in the industry and see a threat, but technology also presents tremendous opportunities. Notably, technology allows carriers to personalize the insurance experience in a way that has completely changed the relationship between policyholder and provider.
For instance, insurance companies can now monitor insureds’ driving habits to provide a lower auto insurance rate. By personalizing engagement and policy offerings in this way, insurance organizations can stay competitive in this new, commoditized insurance market. They can even use technology to do this cost effectively, ideally reducing their cost to deliver while improving the insured’s experience.
2. It helps reduce customer churn
Insurance companies have always struggled to retain existing policies and attract new business, but this issue has been intensifying over time. Taking into consideration the dramatic shifts happening in the insurance market, many carriers are struggling to differentiate themselves and keep up with these new, more agile competitors. Especially when it has never been easier for policyholders to compare rates and switch providers.
With very limited opportunities to engage with insureds, carriers must make every interaction a positive user experience – and that’s where online payments come in.
Online payments play probably the most important role in the policyholder experience. Payments are by far the most frequent touchpoint that a carrier has with insureds and, therefore, it should be the backbone of a carrier’s customer experience strategy.
Insureds want relevant and personalized communication, as well as responsiveness to changing expectations. They want 24/7 access to real-time payment information and the ability pay when and how they want. They want timely text or electronic payment reminders and they want to be able to pay bills instantly through those reminders.
To drive loyalty and dramatically improve customer retention, the customer experience needs to be fast, intuitive, and tailored to the policyholder in all these ways.
3. It enables policyholders to pay when and how they want
Another key aspect of the modern insurance experience – and an aspect where technology can work as a valuable tool – are omni-channel payment options.
Omni-channel refers to the ability to tie customer experience touchpoints together across multiple channels, such as online, on a mobile device, or over the phone. The difference between omni-channel and multi-channel is the ability to provide a consistent experience from one channel to the next. With omni-channel capabilities, a customer can begin their interaction on the phone and pick up later online without losing context. There is a huge difference between simply offering multiple ways to pay a bill and having all those payment channels provide the same information, capabilities, and experience.
To provide the best omni-channel experience, each interface of each channel must be designed to create a simplistic way to move through the payment process. Otherwise, you risk frustrating your policyholders and discouraging them from the payment. Ultimately, it’s less about the channel itself and more about how your chosen technology shapes the insured’s payment experience.
For instance, mobile channels are an important omni-channel offering – however, they can sometimes offer outdated user experiences. To make it easy for insureds to pay on their mobile device, your organization needs to provide an experience that’s designed for mobile and easy to use. You can do this by optimizing your mobile platform with features like pay by text and one-time payment routes, two functions that can drive higher payment conversion and greatly improve policyholder satisfaction.
4. It accelerates speed and innovation
The nature of modern technology is that it delivers results quickly and its always outdoing itself. Today’s consumers have come to expect that level of speed and innovation from all their products and services – including the ability to make insurance payments quickly and conveniently.
Since payments are an insurance organization’s primary digital engagement point, payments are where carriers should look to innovate the user experience. A simple way to do this is by selecting a Cloud solution, like software as a service (SaaS), for your payment platform.
Cloud solutions allow companies to adopt changes and new innovations instantly, without costly upgrades or code re-factoring. As new payment methods or capabilities are introduced into the market, they immediately become available on a carrier’s site and all insureds immediately have access to these new capabilities.
The speed at which innovation is available through Cloud solutions is a huge differentiator for insurance organizations. Without a true Cloud solution, it’s difficult for insurers to quickly respond to changing security requirements, data regulations, and customer expectations. Whereas SaaS solutions enable insurers to be agile in this rapidly changing market and can help them keep up with (or, ideally, stay ahead of) evolving policyholder expectations.
Improve the policyholder experience to drive results
Customer expectations have never been higher for products and services – something that can be devastating in a low-touch industry like insurance. Luckily, the same innovations that have created those expectations are at the disposal of insurance organizations like yours.
Using tech to your advantage is essential to stay competitive, but your team stay on top of shifting policyholder expectations and industry trends. That’s why we surveyed over a thousand policyholders to better understand how insureds prefer to make payments and what they look for in a great user experience.
For key insights from those survey results, download the full research report below.