The insurance customer journey and the insurance customer experience are two marketing terms that are frequently used interchangeably, although they shouldn’t be. They represent two discrete disciplines. For your planning and marketing purposes, it’s important to know the difference.
One of the clearest definitions of the customer journey that we’ve seen is from the technology blog Future of CIO by Pearl Zhu:
“Customer Journey is the end–to–end set of activities and processes that a customer completes while acquiring a company’s products or services.”
She uses the example of the various connections a customer would go through on an actual journey, from buying an air ticket to disembarking from the plane.
In thinking of the insurance customer experience, this is a broader concept. Turning again to Zhu’s blog on the topic, she defines the experience in relation to the journey:
“…as a set of conscious and subconscious attitudes, feelings, and beliefs regarding said activities…how you feel about the whole process.”
In simple terms, think of the insurance customer journey as the process that the customer goes through and all the touch points in which they interact with your insurance agency; think of the insurance customer experience as their feelings about your insurance agency, your staff, each individual experience they had with you, and the sum of all the interactions they had. Zhu says that to get to a “wow” factor, you must deliver a great journey combined with an exceptional experience, and that you must understand the customer journey before you can focus on the experience.
The Insurance Customer Journey at Your Agency
Before you set out on a quest to improve your customer’s experience, you need to understand their journey. Map it out and identify the usual interactions, or touch points. Establish expectations about service goals and metrics for each point on the journey.
Typical insurance customer–initiated interactions might include:
- Seeking information
- Requesting a quote
- Reviewing a quote
- Paying a bill
- Filing a claim
- Making a policy change
- Renewing a policy
But the insurance customer journey isn’t and shouldn’t just be about the interactions they initiate; it should also encompass your planned touch points. These might include:
- Your pre-customer interactions: your marketing outreach, your website, your presence at events, your telephone, text, email conversations, and more.
- Your customer interactions: your social media, your client education in the form of news, tips and product information, upselling outreach, satisfaction surveys, renewal calls, and more.
- Your former customer follow-up: That’s right – former customers should go on your prospect list. If you continue to nurture the relationship, you can often earn their business back.
Your customer journey should be simple, seamless, and secure. Digitize every part of the journey that you can and build the process for multi-channel communications, servicing your customer in the way that they prefer.
The Insurance Customer Experience at Your Agency
While digitizing much of the customer journey is efficient, and indeed, the preference of many customers in today’s 24/7 communication culture, It’s important to personalize the service you provide and actively demonstrate the value that you bring to the process. That’s where the human element comes in –namely, you and your service and sales team.
Personalize interactions. Keep a detailed profile of the client, their coverage, and notes about past interactions so that any staff member could provide seamless service. Map out times for connections, such as a post-onboarding follow-up, a mid-policy check-in, and a pre-renewal reach out. Ask them how you are doing and check on their satisfaction several times throughout the policy cycle. All too often, insurance customers only hear from their agency team at renewal. Out of sight, out of mind.
You can automate many of your interactions if you harness technology to customize and personalize your client communications. Data sorting allows fine tuning the communications that you send. Issue regular information that is relevant to their interests and unique situation. For a personal lines customer, that might be following up with information about a supplementary product such as umbrella liability coverage or insurance related to new trends, such as for gig workers and home rentals; for commercial clients, it might be risk management tips related to their industry or tips for managing workers’ compensation experience modification factors. Your communications should demonstrate your expertise.
One critical juncture in the insurance customer’s experience often occurs when a claim is filed. We know that it is the insurance company’s job to handle the claim, but the customer who purchased the policy from you may not know that. This can often result in misunderstanding or dissatisfaction. Don’t get in the middle of the claim processing but check in with your customer to let them know you care and to explain coverages. Help them to understand what they need to do or submit to keep the process timely. A claim is a critical juncture in the client experience, so you don’t want to fail that test by being absent.
The most important thing is to find repeated ways to show that you care about your customer and you value their business. They should feel that they have caring adviser who is expert in a complex subject matter and who is a trustworthy and reliable guide.
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