The customer experience has become an increasingly important competitive differentiator for insurance companies. Because the contact center is the primary point of contact for many customers, it plays a key role in defining the customer’s relationship with your brand, which inevitably impacts the profitability of the organization. A study by the CFI Group showed that nearly 61% of insurance customers who have had a bad contact center experience will consider switching companies, and 26% said they will definitely switch companies because of a bad contact center experience.
At the same time, the contact center also functions as a strategic asset capable of supporting revenue goals. In response to slow industry growth, many insurance companies now rely on their contact centers to increase sales organically by cross-selling and up-selling policies.
To help customer service representatives (CSRs) succeed, many insurance companies have begun turning to attended automation – a type of RPA solution that can be used to support CSRs while they speak with customers by phone. With attended automation, CSRs can get help in two ways: either by automatically receiving useful information and assistance on their computer screen in real time, or by prompting a software robot on their computer to automatically perform a specific process.
Attended automation can make customer service faster, more customer-focused, and less prone to error – and companies using this technology typically see increased first-call resolution (FCR), lower average handling time (AHT), and an improved overall customer experience.
Here are five ways to improve customer satisfaction and drive sales by empowering your customer service representatives to improve their job performance with attended automation:
1. Ensure CSRs provide fast service (and don’t put customers on hold!)
Recent research suggests that no single metric has a bigger impact on customer satisfaction than first-call resolution (FCR) – a finding that should come as no surprise if you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. (How often have you phoned a service provider only to be put on hold for what seems like forever?).
One challenge to companies looking to increase FCR stems from new and unfamiliar technologies, which can leave CSRs spending valuable time tinkering and searching for information buried deep in a support system or knowledge base, instead of focusing on the speed and quality of the customer service that they are providing.
At this point you should be thinking: “Hold on! We invested in these technologies to optimize the call center. We just deployed/upgraded the latest CRM/Billing/Knowledge Management systems so that our CSRs have all the resources they need to perform their job better and faster.” The fact of the matter is that while all these systems are excellent for managing customer information they are lacking in functionality and support that your agents need to do their job quickly, efficiently, and with the least amount of roadblocks to prevent them from being successful at their job.
Attended automation can help a CSR increase their FCR by constantly monitoring their desktop activities and automatically suggesting relevant support processes directly within the business application. The CSR can choose to be guided through the steps of the process – without the need to look for the information, learn how to do it and then return to the task to apply this knowledge – or simply click a button to accomplish what they want without having to learn it. This is especially popular when dealing with infrequently asked requests that aren’t covered in training.
2. Focus on the customer on the line
With today’s complex and numerous systems and the vast amounts of knowledge and data available, CSRs often spend considerable time searching for information, re-entering data onto multiple screens, and struggling to keep up – activities that can distract them from the customer on the other end of the line. This tends to lead to long average handling times, frustrated agents, and – most importantly – irate customers.
Attended automation empowers customer service representatives to resolve calls more quickly and effectively, while also building a more positive rapport with their customers. As soon as a CSR takes a call, relevant customer information is displayed based on their open and active application(s) and window(s). In addition, tool tips guide them on what to say to the customer, what questions to ask, how to troubleshoot, and which fields within forms are critical. The CSR can also offload tedious, repetitive, and rule-based tasks (such as data entry) to an attended robot. For example, instead of copying and pasting information from one system to another, a CSR can assign a robot to automatically enter information across multiple systems.
By performing some tasks more quickly and offloading others entirely, a CSR can conserve both their time and their attention. Of course, it’s up to the CSR to actually give your customers (and prospective customers) the right level of attentive, personalized service. It’s important to encourage and motivate your customer service team to really concentrate on meeting each customer’s needs and closing sales opportunities.
3. Leverage cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
Given slow growth in a mature market, many insurance companies capitalize on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities to maximize each customer’s lifetime value. Although this proactive approach offers insurers a great way to meet sales objectives, it is important to keep in mind that broad, hard sales pitches are no longer attractive or effective in closing deals. Today’s customers have more choices and higher expectations than ever before, and they are more knowledgeable about their options. The key to sales success is creating valuable conversations and personalized customer service.
With attended automation, your sales agents have the right knowledge at the right time, in the right place, tailored to the needs of the customer. While a customer service representative speaks with a customer, an attended robot can analyze the customer’s background, history, and interaction type – and then use this analysis to recommend an offer to the CSR in real time.
This way, the agent can drive both cross-sells and up-sells while providing accurate, relevant, and individualized information to maximize the company’s revenue – delivering more focused pitches, which help increase close rates and the average deal size.
4. Prevent costly errors
Effective agents are confident in their abilities to lead their customers towards successful transactions. Once a decision has been made, agents should be able to skillfully enter all the relevant information quickly and accurately. In the insurance industry, this also requires adhering to government policies and regulations. As these regulations tend to change frequently, agents may struggle to remain up to date and enter the required information into the company’s computer system – creating the potential for errors and delays that could lead to a loss of sale.
Attended automation adds a safety net around possible pitfalls by checking the validity of entered information and monitoring designated fields to ensure that an agent does not save erroneous or irrelevant in a customer’s account. For example, a company could create a rule about what type of information is allowed in a particular field within a form. Then, if the agent enters the wrong information type or forgets to enter/select a value (for instance, if they forget to check a checkbox), a warning message will pop up, prompting them to correct their mistake. As a result, even novice agents can feel confident that they are doing the job right, every time.
5. Make sure customers get guidance that actually guides them
Consider this common scenario:
A customer says: “I’m looking for quotes on life insurance, but I’m not ready to buy just yet.”
The salesperson responds: “Great. I will be happy to help,” and then proceeds to rush the sales process by making manipulative statements such as “You really need to start protecting your family today before something bad happens.”
Many salespeople are so busy selling that they don’t take the time to actually listen and be helpful. Instead, they dominate the conversation by talking about the product and the company, pushing all the reasons THEY think the customer should buy the insurance policy the company wants to sell. In marked contrast, successful salespeople (including CSRs) realize their primary objectives are to help customers and prospective customers, to be a trusted advisor, and to educate and lead each customer down the right path based on their individual needs. This type of consultative approach builds genuine relationships – ultimately leading to customer loyalty, higher win-rates, and repeat business.
Keep in mind: Because both insurance policies and the needs of policy holders change frequently, customers often turn to CSRs for guidance on selecting the right policies to care for their families, their homes, and their belongings. CSRs tend to do their best sales work when they have a good understanding of the customer’s needs and use this information to offer them recommendations designed to meet the customer’s needs and not the insurance company’s sales goals.
With attended automation, agents have quick and easy access to comprehensive information about the customer while on the call – including in-context, in-application guidance. Equipped with this information, the CSR can easily tailor the conversation to the customer’s specific needs, offer the best solution, and seal the deal faster. Remember: Your customers want to feel that you have a real interest in them, and they need to trust that your CSRs are there to help.
The bottom line?
For today’s insurance companies, customer service representatives are a more strategic asset than ever before – a key factor in both customer satisfaction and sales. By empowering CSRs with attended automation, insurers can improve contact center performance, reduce errors, and close more deals. This way, these companies give themselves valuable opportunities to successfully compete and thrive in today’s increasingly competitive landscape.