Consumer demands shift in insurance mobile customer service

By Jonathan Hassell

| Insurance

As traditional business models continue to evolve, insurance companies face various challenges, including keeping up with consumer preferences and providing comprehensive mobile customer service. The prevalence of mobile apps and devices has influenced the types of services that customers expect from their providers. Not only do they expect instant gratification from their experiences, but also intelligence, functional design and transparency.

Consumers expect immediacy and convenience

The abundance of mobile data plans means that consumers are connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even airborne cellular connectivity providers show that consumers are online with their mobile devices in every location, including on an airplane at 30,000 feet. This means consumers expect to be able to take advantage of mobile customer service and sales features within apps. And, they don’t want to wait: according to a survey from The Social Habit, 32 percent of consumers expect a response to a social media query within 30 minutes and 42 percent expect a response within 60 minutes.

Put simply, customers are ready for mobile engagement. They want to speak to specialists who can solve their problems directly without navigating a phone tree. In the event of an accident, they want an app to automatically transmit as much data as possible to fill out an initial claim. In a sales and service atmosphere, customers expect to be able to instantly provision new services, cancel old ones, make policy changes and receive customized advice for their situations, all within an app. Most functions ought to just work within an app — only a very select few transactions should require assistance from a live agent. The mobile app should be able to carry out the entire customer interaction lifecycle from beginning to end.

Consumers expect intelligent apps

Consumers have proven by their continued use of free services that they are generally comfortable with a reasonable trade-off between privacy and sharing information to enhance their experiences with apps and services. They have come to expect that the apps they download include mobile customer service that is quick to solve problems.

According to the Insurance Journal, Jeff Rieder, head of Ward Group, shared in a presentation to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies that approximately 78 percent of insurance companies allow customers to open insurance claims online and 79 percent allow claims to be started from a mobile device. Nearly half of insurance companies offer a capability for online bill payments as well.

The following are some examples of specific insurance app efforts:

  • Alfa and Geico
  • These two insurers used mobile platforms to build both B2C and B2B apps and developed virtual agents for major smartphone operating platforms.
  • Liberty Mutual
  • The American insurance company built a native app for both iOS and Android that lets customers take pictures of damaged properties, get the details of their policies and open up claims.
  • Progressive
  • This large US insurer released an app that quickly snaps a photo of a vehicle identification number that allows users to get quotes easily without filling out forms, open and service claims and tell the company about any property damages.
  • State Farm
  • The mutual giant allows customers to use their mobile devices to locate agents, open claims or even request roadside assistance.

These apps make up an increasingly central touchpoint in the customer experience with their insurance companies and make up an important part of any company’s mobile strategy.

Consumers expect even more competitive pricing and more visibility into those prices

Consumers mostly see insurance as a necessary evil and are generally not swayed by messages of a better claims experience or more financial stability. They want the lowest price and premium. They expect mobile apps to show them which coverages are available for which prices without a lot of fuss so they can make a buying decision and move on to other things. Making comparison shopping easy means insurance companies can expect a potential uptick in revenue as more consumers comparison shop.

Insurance organizations should consider implementing top-notch mobile capabilities to keep pace with the expectations of increasingly mobile-savvy customers.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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