How Insurance Companies can Create a Compelling Brand Experience Using CRM

Back in the day, things were way simpler - choices were easier to make because things were in black and white. However, today we are surrounded by greys. There was a time when filing insurance was a matter of pride, where customers were sure that their insurance companies would be there for them in case they faced an untoward situation. This scenario has changed and while old timer insurance companies are blaming newer ones for eating into their share, the fact is that when an insurance firm loses a customer, they themselves are to blame. 

Fancy insurance advertisements, depicting a retired man unabashedly allowing his wife to continue her shopping sprees because he has that much confidence when it comes to his insurance provider are more depictive of 'reel life' than 'real life'. Customers have unfortunately lost interest in their insurance companies because these organizations have stopped focusing on their customers and listening to their needs. Insurance companies, rather than foster relationships with their customers, tend to simply focus on contacting their clients when there is an overdue bill to be paid. 

So, why is it that clients are slowly leaving their insurance providers and moving on? Where are insurance companies going wrong? The results from a few surveys and useful pointers may help in getting these answers.

What do customers want?
In the movie ‘What Women Want’, the lead actor Mel Gibson suddenly acquired divine powers that enabled him to know exactly what women wanted, many men sighed and wished they had a super power like that. When companies suddenly start losing customers out of the blue, they start wishing they had a tool that would tell them what customers really wanted. However, there is no need for divine intervention here, multi-channel marketing surveys with marketing automation tools like CRM for insurance can help find out what customers expect from brands.

Statistics speak
Every four out of five customers stated that their overall experience was the most important factor that helped them decide whether they wished to purchase an item or not. Also, nearly every three in four customers stated that price was not the most important factor and that they were willing to pay more for a product or service, if they were assured that it would mean superior quality or experience. On the other hand, only one in four customers stated that they were happy and had a unique experience with their brand. What is disturbingly visible in these findings is the huge gap between customer expectations and reality. Overall, it was concluded that strong customer advocacy and enhanced customer service were the two most important factors dictating customer preferences.

It’s not all about profit margins
Most marketers feel that by highlighting their low prices, customers will leave everything behind and opt for their scheme. This is the reason why many advertisements tend to solely focus on the price factor, with special offers for people willing to switch services. Instead of targeting first time customers, these advertisements are all about poaching customers from rival insurance companies. What these people do not understand is that often, they themselves fall prey to this unethical regime, losing patrons along the way. This is proven by the fact that 'switching rates' have doubled in the last six years.

It’s pitiable to see the staggering amount of money that insurance firms are splurging on flashy advertisement campaigns with discouraging results - the insurance sector spent a whopping USD 4.15 billion in 2009, more than double the amount compared to ten years ago. However, these efforts were mostly in vain, as it was seen that one in ten customers looking for auto insurance did not opt for the lowest priced plan offered to them. Despite perhaps snagging a few customers with the help of flashy advertisements, overpaid ads are doing little in helping retain customers. Retaining customers should always be given more priority than gaining newer ones because customer loyalty is something that cannot be bought nor got through flashy advertising.

CRM software for optimizing customer experience with insurance companies
CRM in Insurance
The moral of the story is that customer experience dictates how long a customer will stick with a brand. Great customer experience stems from two things – attention to interaction and prompt responses to customer complaints. So, rather than focusing all possible time and resources on advertisements that promise the moon, insurance companies need to strike a chord with their clients. This can be done using the following pointers:
  •  No more focus on pricing: What is return on investment for brands is return on experience for customers. Drop the whole idea of focusing on rates and offers for people willing to switch to your brand. Instead, offer a unique customer experience with one-to-one interactions. Get clients involved and lend a ear to their suggestions and opinions; even if you do not implement them, if a client feels they have been heard, it will be considered a worthwhile experience.
  •  Make your customers advertisers: A unique brand experience means a happy and satisfied customer. Companies that have managed to win over their clients have already won the war. Satisfied customers often tend to talk about their experiences with family members and colleagues and involuntarily, a company manages to gain a worthy word of mouth advertiser. One can also profit from this further by creating a chain of quality referrals from loyal patrons, which will help in gaining new and retaining existing ones. Third party business partners can also help in furthering such attempts, as they can be made a part of special appreciation programs during seminars and meets with prospective clients.
  • Don’t forget your employees: Another important fact is that people selling insurance must believe in it. So, agents, service representatives and sales reps must all be happy, satisfied and should feel confident about the insurance they are selling because this ensures better lead conversion ratios. Effective and engaging communication between customers and service reps forms the basis of a long lasting positive business relationship.
  • Use multiple channels: In this day and age of technology, why leave out any portal that may translate into a business opportunity? Using multiple channels to reach customers is fruitful. Selling directly through call centres, websites and various mobile devices translates into good sales. However, one shouldn’t get stuck in the net cast; cross channel selling is complicated and so constant feedback and interactions need to be maintained, this allows clients to enjoy their brand experience through their preferred channel.  One of the foremost factors that come under the umbrella of ‘superior customer experience’ is customer satisfaction. This is especially the case for responses to complaints - accurate resolutions and quick turnaround time for service requests ensures lower churn. 
The rat race for acquiring new customers is a never ending one. On the other hand, with a proper CRM strategy incorporating efficient customer service solutions, social CRM and sales automation, along with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction, lead conversions will be maximized. An effective CRM solution for insurance and a strong will to revamp existing strategies by looking at the entire insurance sector from a different and refreshing perspective, will encourage improved customer perceptions about your brand and cost-effectively encourage customer advocacy across channels.