In his recent article, Tony Iero describes how insurance companies have been using contact centres since the late 1970s.
Originally, they only operated during office hours and were intended to supplement brokers and insurance agents by allowing policyholders to ask questions over the phone, make changes to an existing policy or to file a claim.
When the internet arrived in the 1990s, insurance companies were among the first to launch basic self-service functions on their websites. These included frequently asked questions (FAQs), online ordering and handling correspondence by email. They also extended opening hours in the contact centres from office hours to the full 24/7 regime.
Voice over IP telephony (VOIP) dramatically reduced telephony costs, which made moving operations offshore to countries with low labour costs feasible. Later, in the time of the pandemic, VOIP also made working from home possible too.
As digital customer service technology developed, insurance companies started using multiple channels to communicate with their customers. Customers used social media to publicly complain about insurance companies to force them to take action.
Tony Iero says: “Customers want flexibility, personalization, and fast, accessible service.” Multiple authorities assert that insurance customers today want the full benefits of omnichannel, to be able to switch channels at will and be remembered as they hop from one channel to another.
In his October 2019 article, Craig Farley says “Customer retention in the insurance industry is a number one priority.” He adds that it costs 5 times as much to recruit a new customer as to retain an existing one. This is becoming more of a challenge. Consumer insurance products are more or less the same, and price comparison websites intensify the competition.
Michael Saner, writing in June 2021, notes that average wait times in insurance contact centres fell dramatically from 79 seconds in 2019 to 37 seconds in 2020. The research he quoted also stated that 12% of customers would hang up before speaking to an agent in 2019, this rose to 15% in 2020.
He quotes psychological research conducted in Ohio University indicating that people are less willing to wait for anything, even when promised a higher reward if they waited.
He attributes this impatience, in part, to the impact of technology saying: “Technology can provide instant results, and as a result, we have been conditioned to expect instant results.”
This impatience translates into a requirement for fast responses and fast service provision.
Accenture’s John McNally, in his white paper on the insurance industry, recommends contact centres should not only be multi-channel, but truly omnichannel.
He states that high performing companies are set to invest 50% more than average in omnichannel contact centres. This is necessary to meet customers’ demand for a joined-up experience where they can contact their insurance company through any channel, they will be recognized and have the agent pick up their case from where it was left off.
Craig Farley stated: “IBM recently found 29% of insurance customers said the option to buy a policy through a mobile device would significantly increase their loyalty to their insurer.”
Farley also recommends the extensive adoption of chatbots to handle simple transactions, such as requesting basic information or changing a correspondence address.
Contact centre agents will need to be more highly trained. Chatbots will handle simple tasks quickly and efficiently, while human agents will handle the more complex tasks across multiple channels, or deal with frustrated customers having issues with automated self-service solutions.
The emotional intelligence aspect of an agent’s training is likely to be more important. Farley describes agents’ work in this way: “Agents are the first-port-of-call for complaints, renewals and cancellations.” he then moves on to say: “Research from software firm Acquia finding 76% of consumers admit they are likely to switch brands after a bad experience.”
How Omningage pays a premium
Omningage provides a cloud-based desktop and reporting application for contact centre agents and supervisors that sits on top of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) contact centre platform, Amazon Connect.
Amazon Connect handles voice calls, chats and other text-based interactions, including emails, through its “task” functionality. Omningage enables its integration with instant messaging and social media channels. Contact centres using Omningage can handle interactions from all users on one platform and with one interface.
Omningage integrates with CRM data. Its interface presents both immediately relevant and historical data about a customer’s contacts with the company. This allows the user to pick up cases where the previous contact centre agent left off, giving the customer a seamless experience.
Omningage / Amazon Connect can be integrated with Amazon Lex chatbots. Simple tasks can be fully automated and the IVR can be replaced with a simplified routing experience where the customer simply says what she wants, and the system routes her to the right person.
Using Omningage’s reporting and management interface, supervisors can monitor and manage chatbots with the same degree of precision that is applied to human agents.
Omningage’s user friendly interface reduces system complexity and training time for the agent. Now, they can concentrate on acquiring product knowledge and improving their customer service skills.
If you are in insurance, and you want to find out more about Omningage and Amazon Connect, contact Omningage today.