As the old saying goes, the only constant is change.
Nowhere is this more true than in the world of technology, where the digital landscape is constantly changing every aspect of daily life.
Yet despite the perpetual motion of progress, insurance companies have traditionally been reluctant to move with the times. Indeed while sectors like banking and finance have readily invested in everything from AI to social media, insurers have been slow to undertake such a digital transformation.
That is something laid bare by COVID-19 and the restrictions in place as a result of the global health crisis. The pandemic hasn’t just disrupted business-as-usual. It has changed the face of society as we know it, acting as a catalyst that’s shifted more and more of our lives online.
As a sector that still relies heavily on manual processes, this pace of change has caught insurers short. It’s perhaps no wonder then that one recent survey suggested that as many as 90% of insurers will now accelerate plans for digital transformation to catch up to their customers’ demands.
Customer communication trends
With more of our lives moving online, insurers must follow their customers by developing the tools and techniques to effectively communicate digitally.
Research suggests that this trend is here to stay. Indeed thanks to trailblazers in consumer-driven sectors like fashion, experts at Gartner predict that as much as 70% of all customer interactions will take place via technologies like apps, chatbots and mobile messaging in 2022.
Instant messaging, in particular, has experienced explosive growth over recent years, with research from Statista showing WhatsApp now boasts more than 2 billion active users. The reach potential is significant. An example of this is employee benefits platform Plum, which slashed claim filing time by 60% for its users with WhatsApp. As Millenials age and enter the insurance market, they won’t just expect that providers communicate with them on their platform of choice, they will demand it. Evidently, anyone who isn’t up to speed will soon get left behind.
That’s something the insurance sector can’t afford. Uncertain revenue streams and overstretched customer services mean that insurers, alongside other legacy industries, have faced severe challenges over the past two years. Increasing claims have meant that customer service departments are stretched to their limits, while the post-pandemic trend for digital-first products has made the marketplace increasingly competitive.
In this challenging landscape, the shortcomings of existing processes and technologies have been put into sharp focus. Difficult-to-navigate websites, complicated forms, endless email chains and inundated call centres are no longer able to meet the needs of today’s consumers. Instead, new technologies must be adopted to provide the quick, intuitive, personalised and scaleable responses that customers demand.
4 ways WhatsApp can benefit insurers
From sourcing quotes to submitting policy data, there’s a huge opportunity for insurers to leverage instant messaging across the entire value chain. WhatsApp, in particular, can reduce losses and costs, increase customer satisfaction and help your brand stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
- Creating a dialogue
Part of the appeal of platforms like WhatsApp is that they create a real-time, two-way dialogue that can streamline communications and create a genuine connection with customers.
Instant messaging is inherently more informal than traditional forms of communication, which helps to make conversations feel more authentic and less commercial. In today’s marketplace, where building authentic attachments with customers is an essential differentiator, instant messaging could help businesses stand out from competitors and build brand loyalty.
- Streamlining communication
Whether it’s enabling insurers to send a quick message to request information, educate holders on their policies or incentivise them with benefits – you can efficiently communicate with consumers without using up precious customers service resources better deployed elsewhere. Given what we’ve learned during the pandemic, having an easy way to communicate and update policyholders is vital in a constantly evolving world.
There are logistical benefits to conducting conversations with customers via WhatsApp too. With all messages and documentation exchanged in one place, neither party needs to trawl through a sea of emails, forms and exchanges to get the information they want.
- Safe and secure
One of the inevitable challenges that insurers face is security. Safeguarding customers’ information is of prime concern, and new technology understandably poses challenges when keeping this information protected.
The good news is that WhatsApp enables end-trend encryption, which protects customer privacy and adheres to GDPR.
Alongside instant messaging, new technologies like Chatbots enable businesses to do more with less. Chatbots allow more conversations to be automated, freeing up valuable customer service resources in the process.
But chatbots don’t just make your conversations easier but smarter. Insurers can specifically design the flow of conversations to elicit the responses they want. Customers are guided through complex processes, and thanks to the pools of data produced, insurers can also analyse the granular aspects of their communications in detail. This means businesses can fine-tune processes to be more effective, spot connections break down and gain unparalleled customer insight.
It’s time to join the conversation
Right now, the insurance sector is weathering a storm. COVID-19 has created unprecedented disruption and a wave of claims that may take years to recover. At the same time, the pandemic has rapidly accelerated the pace of change, forcing businesses to adapt to new ways of working and technological advancements that would otherwise have been years in the making.
The sector is becoming increasingly competitive. Younger demographics are demanding more from legacy insurers, while at the same time, new startups are challenging the sector’s stays quo. This combination of changing market forces and emerging technology leaves the sector at a crossroads.
Insurers’ traditional reluctance to invest in technological innovations cannot be repeated. Instead, the time for change is now. We live in an experience economy, and as we head into 2022, it’s more important than ever for companies to deliver frictionless customer journeys.
Harnessing the potential of technology like WhatsApp can not only help a business stand out from the crowd, it can help deliver better value and boost bottom lines. Get it right, and the benefits to are significant. Get it wrong, and businesses risk being left behind, or at worst becoming obsolete in the eyes of customers.