An excellent customer experience isn’t just a quality experience. It’s also a quantifiable one.
As Peter Kriss outlined in a Harvard Business Review article, a customer’s experience is directly and dramatically correlated both to customer feedback and to future customer spending.
These results translate to the digital realm. A customer’s experience with a company’s web site, mobile site and other computer-accessible interfaces plays a key role in their willingness to recommend the business to their friends — as well as whether the customer will stick with the business themselves.
Here, we talk about what it takes to build an outstanding digital experience for your P&C insurance customers.
Indispensable Elements of a World Class Digital Experience
Reporting on a recent Aberdeen Group study, Paul Demery notes that companies with strong omni-channel capabilities retain 89 percent of their customers. For companies with weak systems, the number drops to 33 percent.
Digital channels comprise an ever-growing part of the omni-channel experience. Broadly speaking, the digital customer experience includes every customer interaction through digital means: computer, tablet, smartphone.
But a strong customer experience overall doesn’t automatically translate to a strong digital experience, according to Software Advice’s Craig Borowski. “Online and offline consumers are birds of very different feathers,” Borowski writes at Harvard Business Review. In fact, “to consumers, there’s no satisfactory excuse for a poor digital experience.”
Laura McClellan at Gartner has additional statistics that show why a top-notch digital customer experience is a must-have:
- 89 percent of customers get frustrated when it’s not easy to do business with a company.
- 58 percent of customers express frustration when experiences are inconsistent from channel to channel.
- 89 percent of companies are competing primarily on a customer service basis.
- 65 percent of companies have a “chief customer officer” whose responsibility is to perfect the customer experience.
- Despite the above, 84 percent of companies have still not fully integrated their physical and digital customer experiences.
Top concerns for digital customers — and thus top considerations for businesses — include availability, consistency, speed and personality.
Digital customer interfaces remove the restrictions of business hours or holidays from customers’ interactions, but they impose other availability challenges.
Customers want to be able to interact with companies on their own terms, says Danny Bluestone at UX Magazine, and they want to be able to do it on their own devices. A strong digital experience accounts for a wide range of devices and offers a seamless way to interact on all of them. The best systems, says Bluestone, are “channel-neutral,” offering the same quality of interaction on any device.
The team at web development industry blog Skilled.co crunched some numbers and found that nearly half of any website’s visitors expect pages to load within 2 seconds. Users are a little more forgiving with mobile sites — about two-thirds of people expect a page to open in 4 seconds.
The takeaway? Speed is key. Digital customer interfaces must be designed to avoid loading delays on as many devices as possible.
When digital channels are consistent and communicate smoothly with one another, customers experience greater satisfaction and increased willingness to interact and to refer friends to the service, according to Kim Flaherty at Nielsen Norman Group.
One simple but well-known example of consistency in digital customer experience is Amazon’s cart function. When a user is logged in to their Amazon account, their cart displays the same items whether the user is looking at it from a desktop web browser, a mobile app, or Amazon’s Kindle device — or even if the user is looking at it from all three at the same time.
According to Moxie VP of Product Management Nikhil Govindaraj, early attempts at a mobile digital customer experience resulted in 3 percent conversion rates, compared to 20-30 percent conversion rates in-store. This isn’t an indictment of mobile as a channel. Rather, it just shows that digital channels have a natural maturation process before they can convey personality as well as an in-person experience can.
A focus on making the digital experience as comfortable and inviting as the in-person experience, then, is essential for best in class customer satisfaction. From the personal touches created by branding and customer analytics to seamless search and question functions, the closer the digital experience comes to the in-person one, the more likely it is customers will buy — and return.
Case Studies: 4 Companies That Get It Right
Want to join the ranks of companies with outstanding digital customer experiences? Here are companies implementing some of the top-ranked omni-channel approaches and how they succeed.
Progressive Insurance Group
Progressive zeroed in on its customers’ digital experience as early as 2007, leading to programs like their “Name Your Price” initiative. Today, the company strives for a fully integrated customer experience. Under Progressive’s omni-channel outreach system, customers can not only interact with Progressive’s own auto insurance offerings, but also bundle their auto with homeowners or renters insurance underwritten by other companies — all while enjoying a consistent, reliable and focused user experience.
Farmers Insurance Group
Farmers demonstrates that omni-channel customer engagement doesn’t have to stay in-house, or even on the same platform.
With a very specific customer in mind, Farmers chose to meet those customers where they were: on social media. Partnering with Facebook’s popular FarmVille game both boosted Farmers’ branding and provided access to social media data the company could use to provide a more personalized customer experience. The result? Happier, more loyal customers.
GEICO has become a household name in auto insurance by emphasizing speed and customer interests. The company’s omni-channel marketing system focuses on minimizing or eliminating wait times for customers, whether the customer seeks to update a policy or ask a question. And the company’s well-known spokesgecko? He didn’t come from a marketing meeting — he’s the result of direct customer feedback.
Bank of America
Banks and insurance companies face many of the same regulatory and privacy hurdles when it comes to building omni-channel services. Bank of America gets it right, Aaron Agius argues. The seamless relationships between BoA’s desktop and mobile apps allows customers to carry out a wide range of routine banking tasks on either device, from checking account balances to depositing funds and paying bills.
Improving Your Digital Customer Experience: A Quick-Start Guide
How can P&C insurers place themselves at the top of omni-channel food chain and reap the benefits of that position? Here are a few considerations to kick-start the process.
- Build a digital experience that delivers on your brand promise. Branding accomplishes two things, according to UX strategist Kate Kaplan: it represents a product or service efficiently, and it promises that customers will receive a certain experience in exchange for interacting with it. Whether your brand is built on a promise of efficiency, thoroughness, kindness or any other experience, deliver on that promise every time, in every channel.
- Put your branding under one roof. When logos, color schemes, hashtags and other branding signifiers are housed in one location, it’s easier to create a consistent brand feel throughout an the customer experience, notes marketing technology entrepreneur Mike Watson. It also helps brands reiterate important messages related to their mission, vision and values, according to Ani Stepanian of Mercer Vine.
- Embed design in your process. Companies that take a design-led approach to customers’ digital experiences reap considerable benefits, consultant Elaine Fogel says. For example, 70 percent of design-led projects land in the best-in-class zone for digital customer interaction, and 50 percent report better customer ratings and retention. One study found that design-led companies tend to outperform the S&P, on average, by 219 percent.
- Make communication a priority. Up to 90 percent of non-completed digital purchases are abandoned because customers feel they don’t have enough information to make a good choice, according to a study by Informatica. Integrated live chat functions, FAQs and other tools can overcome this information hesitation and improve customers’ confidence.
- “Omni” your analytics, too. An omni-channel approach to customers isn’t providing its full benefit to the business if analytics remain siloed, says Eileen Canady of SYKES. Instead, ensure you’re tracking conversations through multiple channels in order to identify pain points and preserve the integrity of the customer experience.
- Work with professionals who understand customer ownership. A best in class digital experience offers extraordinary opportunities to keep your customers coming back. If customer retention and ownership are major concerns, choose software and service providers who understand the demands of a strong retention approach.
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