But there’s more to this requirement: carriers must ensure interactions remain seamless, regardless of how customers choose to connect.
“When I start a chat and speak [the customer]then complete a transaction in an app — it all has to fit together,” Shore said.
“This adds to the complexity that companies must manage when meeting the demand for digital [communication]: the ability of all channels to interact and stitch together.”
Seamless digital experience
A disjointed omnichannel experience only leads to customer frustration and carrier retention issues.
Imagine a customer who wants to make a claim or adjust their policy on a company’s website, Shore said. If the website doesn’t do what the customer wants, they end up calling the 800 number. You have to start over because the customer service representative who answers the call because the customer service representative does not know who they are or what they have already tried.
“You only get so far with them before you have to talk to someone else. You have to make some decisions and then come back and maybe try the app and start over,” Shore said.
In contrast, a seamless omnichannel experience could involve the customer searching for help online via a chatbot and then being connected to the right agent who can address their concern. The agent can initiate the right processes for the customer on the app or website.
“It’s more than saying that customers prefer digital because that’s obvious; Customers prefer digital solutions, but they also prefer the whole system to work together,” Shore said.
“If you don’t say you keep in touch with your customers, you lose relevance and face growth and customer retention problems. It can lead to bottom-line problems because you end up targeting the customers that don’t match the profile you want.”
Evolving customer needs
Nationwide is no stranger to meeting customers’ rapidly evolving needs. As one of the largest airlines in the United States, it offers a variety of personal and commercial insurance policies, including auto, homeowner, pet, farm, and life insurance.
“We’ve seen these changes for some time, but the need to meet them has been accelerated by COVID-19 and the upcoming generational shift in our customer bases,” Shore told Insurance Business.
Seamless digital experiences aren’t the only customer trend being driven heavily by the pandemic. Customers also want to feel looked after by their insurer.
“In this time of ongoing instability, whether it be the pandemic, social or geopolitical unrest, or economic issues affecting families and business owners, clients are focused on care. They expect to be looked after by the companies they do business with, especially in our category,” Shore said.
“That emotional toll and increased expectations of care is what we at Nationwide are very focused on. Our mission requires us to take extraordinary care to protect people and businesses.”
Emotional connection to customers
For the EPP, Nationwide’s mission of “extraordinary care” can be expressed in the smallest and most humble of forms.
The company’s fast-growing pet insurance business, for example, began sending out handwritten condolences to pet owners who canceled their policies after their beloved pets passed away.
“We mention your pet by name and express our sympathy because we know that people love their pets like family,” Shore said.
The program has sent out more than 6,000 messages of condolence to bereaved pet owners. According to Shore, such actions help foster the carrier’s emotional bond with its customers.
“Sure, we can just send a check to say, ‘Here’s coverage for those last vet bills.’ But that extra step doesn’t have to be expensive or high-tech,” she said.
What other ways can insurers improve the customer experience? Share your ideas in the comments below.