How Omnichannel CX Drives Digital Transformation in Insurance and Beyond

Philip Enders Arden January 11, 2023

This is the fourth and final blog in our series detailing how insurance providers can make the most of digital transformation projects. In our previous blogs, we discussed the role of AI in digital transformation, how insurers can provide “escape routes” to talk to a real agent, and the role that customer feedback has on digital transformation projects.

As we wrap up the series, let us reflect on how these pieces come together to create an omnichannel customer journey. But first we should define what we mean by omnichannel and why it matters for the insurance industry.

Briefly, omnichannel describes experiences or systems that connect customer touchpoints across all brand-operated channels, both internal and external, as well on social platforms.

For the insurance industry, this includes not only customer communication channels such as email, website, mobile app and call center, but also key customer support functions such as claims processing, underwriting and more.

By striving to become an omnichannel business that can deliver exceptional CX at each touchpoint, insurers can create a map of their customers’ end-to-end journeys and how information flows through their organization. In turn, insurance providers can take that information and create a cross-channel/cross-function view of the business to improve processes, experiences and create competitive differentiation.

Let us explore this in more depth, specifically:

  • What omnichannel CX looks like in the insurance industry
  • How to listen everywhere without being big brother-ish
  • The importance of aligning your listening initiatives and insights with your digital transformation goals
  • How to act on customer feedback to improve CX and performance across your organization.

Omnichannel CX in the Insurance Industry

What does an omnichannel customer experience look like in the insurance industry?

Here are examples of two customers whose houses recently suffered a fire.

Johan submitted a claim on his computer, received a request for more information on his phone, spoke with an agent, had an adjustor visit, and received a check. He gave the insurer high marks for customer satisfaction on a claims feedback survey.

Helga meanwhile visited her local insurance agent and spoke with them about the process in person. From there she gathered evidence with her phone camera and emailed it in to make her claim. Then she visited her local agent again, and together they called the claims department. After that, she made a plan for an adjustor to come.

Unfortunately, the adjustor was stuck in traffic due to unforeseen circumstances and had to come another day. In addition, after seeing the assessment, Helga felt the adjustor did not appropriately quantify the value of some antiques that were damaged and disputed the number. Finally, after all of the added back and forth and complications, Helga received her check in the mail. Helga gave the insurer lower marks for customer service.

Luckily, Helga’s insurer was able to recreate her customer journey to understand why they got the poor marks. Without an omnichannel CX program, the insurer might have “blamed” the local agent for the poor experience, or the adjustor. However, it was not either of those individuals’ fault. The circumstances and information available to the adjustor complicated the claim process. Cumulatively, the experience was not as smooth as Johan’s, but fortunately the insurer had the insights to understand the friction points and how they might fix those going forward.

Getting the omnichannel experience right requires striving for better CX and focusing on customer feedback across all channels and interactions.

Listen Everywhere Without Being Big Brother-ish

If you are like most adults, you’ve likely read George Orwell’s book, 1984, in school. In the book, control of information and language creates a creepy dystopia where nothing is private, and BIG BROTHER watches over everyone. Plus-plus-double not-good, indeed. While most consumers are concerned with data privacy, many consumers are willing to provide personal information if it is for a good reason and if they trust the brand to use it appropriately.

In the Verint Experience Index for Property and Casualty Insurance, we found that while personal information security was the second highest priority for customers, the top priority was customer service quality.

So, how do you deliver an elevated, personalized level of customer service without being creepy?

  • Listen to all customer channels while respecting customer requests for data privacy as well as fulfilling all compliance obligations.
  • Then build trust by using that customer feedback to improve CX, operational efficiency and internal processes. This requires connecting your CX and customer feedback data that may be siloed in different systems, functions or channels, into a central repository and analysis tool. By looking at what customers say on the phone, with behavioral data from the website, feedback using a questionnaire on the web, and even metadata such as time on site, insurance providers can gain a complete picture of their customers’ experience.
  • The next step is carefully making this information available across various parts of the organization while protecting privacy and data security.

Align Listening with Your Digital Transformation Goals

Just as important as listening is finding alignment across the organization in support of your digital transformation goals. An omnichannel CX and omnichannel organization is only as strong as the connections between departments and operation alignment built to support it.

Without organizational buy in, it can be difficult to access and connect siloed data and with data in silos, the organization cannot become truly omnichannel.

There are two standard approaches to getting buy-in for and ensure alignment for organization-wide initiatives: top-down directive or small proof of concepts.

Top-Down Directive

With significant support and messaging from the C-Suite, empowered officers, and the creation or amplification of a CXO, it is possible to get the gears turning for omnichannel engagement and customer service. You then share the reasons behind the initiative with each level in the organization, with the manager clarifying the impact the initiative has on their teams.

The advantage with this approach is that many people will thoroughly vet the initiative to ensure it aligns with the organization’s strategic and digital transformation goals.

That said, even with executive support, this process will not be frictionless. Without seeing the value in advance, different departments may balk at requests for change. If they are not cooperating, a lack of organizational cohesion could arise, even in an otherwise well-connected enterprise.

Small Proof of Concepts

The second potential approach starts much smaller than a top-down initiative but avoids some of the pitfalls. Perhaps ironically, starting small may sometimes be the more effective path to omnichannel adoption. For example, you can have a well-developed listening and customer feedback program in one channel or one part of the customer journey. You can share data, results and your successes widely, especially with the executive team.

Once you have proven the value of better customer feedback, you are more likely to gain acceptance, and even be pursued to expand the initiative to other channels and areas.

Eventually, you will transform how you operate digitally and across all channels. Not only will your part of the organization become a proof point for omnichannel CX, but executives will not have to wonder if the project is worth it. Instead, they will see it already is.

A potential challenge with this approach is keeping the initiative aligned with overall corporate strategy, as those executing the proof of concepts may not be privy to executive planning and priorities.

Either way, digital transformation and building an omnichannel organization is not something you can rush. Be sure to get buy-in and alignment as you go, whether you build from the top down, bottom up, or both.

Adaptive Support for Digital CX

So, we have discussed the need to connect and synchronize customer feedback from all channels, and the need to align the CX vision and omnichannel CX across the organization as a whole. Now the hard part – acting on the feedback you capture.

Every customer has a distinct set of desires and needs. In an ideal world you know what their need is before they ever express it, but sometimes that is just not possible. What insurance providers can do, however, is adapt the experience based on what information is already available about a customer.

One of our clients did this particularly effectively. By listening to the Voice of Customer and collecting feedback across the organization, they were able to identify which interactions caused a decrease in Net Promoter Score. From there, they found solutions that directly addressed these engagement gaps.

For example, they found that customers were looking for a more consultative approach, leading them to changing how their staff was trained to deliver that superior experience.

Digital Transformation in Insurance: It’s Only the Beginning

While insurers are working hard to become digital-first, there’s still more work to be done. To gain competitive advantage and capture more market share, insurers need to re-think customer service and retention strategies so they can strengthen their relationships with their members. In this blog series, we have explored how insurers:

  1. Are investing in conversational AI-powered solutions to help balance the need to deliver excellent service while also managing costs.
  2. Need to smooth the transition from digital and self-service channels to live agent support by empowering employees with new real-time data and digital tools such as real-time guidance, coaching, and knowledge management.
  3. Can create an ongoing cycle of feedback and change to meet customer expectations.
  4. Are building omnichannel CX programs that connect data and customer feedback across the organization to create a holistic picture of the customer journey for analysis and improvement.

There are many more opportunities for insurers to accelerate their digital transformation with AI-powered solutions that help build enduring customer relationships by connecting work, data and experiences across the enterprise.

What digital transformation initiatives have you undertaken? Where do you see the greatest opportunity for digital transformation in the insurance industry?

In the meantime, here are some resources you might be interested in: