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Rob Cornwell, Cisco
Rob Cornwell, Cisco
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'Mayday' for Insurance Customer Service?

The latest innovation from Amazon can provide insurers a look into the future of customer service.

"Mayday" is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It is derived from the French expression venez m'aider, meaning "come to help me." Most recently, the term has been used to describe a special feature Amazon now offers Kindle Fire HDX users when they need virtual support on their device. Users can simply touch the button on the Kindle screen and a contact center representative appears on the screen, where the customer can see, hear and talk with the Amazon customer service rep. It delivers personal help on-demand and in real-time. Insurance and financial services providers must be alerted that the next generation of customer experience capabilities is now here.

Today's consumers use any device, anytime, form anywhere to access news information, entertainment and to make retail purchases. Insurance & financial services providers must meet consumer expectations in much the same way.

Retail banks have begun rolling out similar "mayday" functionality to their customers through similar solutions that are driven by new technology. As is the case with many technology trends, the "what could be" capabilities of the future are much closer than many realize. Virtual interaction has become much more common in our daily lives. In fact, many consumers now use virtual capabilities like FaceTime for social interaction and are more likely to expect and use similar capabilities to interact with companies they do business with. Today, many workers are also using virtual interaction to connect with colleagues to conduct business and perform their job functions.

Rob Cornwell, Cisco
Rob Cornwell, Cisco

Consumers Need Help Too

The true meaning of the term, help me, also applies from a consumer perspective. For instance, if a customer is on a company website and has questions or needs help, often this results in a clumsy, time consuming endeavor. Typically, this means finding the "Contact Us" link on the website to either: send an e-mail and hope for a response; submit a form and hope for a call back; or leave the website, to place a call to an 800 number and hope to get in contact with the right person who can help. Most people can easily think of a nightmare experience of getting lost in a company's badly designed voice response maze of options, complete with routing and reemphasizing who they are and what they need help with.

[Esurance takes a page from Apple FaceTime]

That concept has changed. Today, on a company website or mobile application, customers have the ability to "Connect Now" for help. If a customer is in need of assistance, they can simply click to chat, click to call, click to video and interact with the right person in real-time. The customer now decides if a quick on-line chat is all the help needed, whether they'd rather talk to a representative immediately or if they would like one-way or two-way virtual interaction with the person helping them. New technology solutions now allow experts to "co-browse' and show customers how to access what they need on the company's website. Service representatives can also share their desktop screen with customers or send additional information over the web. Now, transactions can be completed all within one contact, including the ability to sign documents virtually.

Changing Customer Experiences

Today's customers have the ability to connect now and get the help they need from a variety of channels. When it comes to virtual interaction, the potential for business is as endless as the ever changing needs and expectations of the customers they serve. A few benefits include:

• Increasing "First Call Resolution" within their organization's contact center to drive operational efficiencies while enhancing customer experience.

• Leveraging data analytics that can be gained before the call even arrives in the contact center to better route the caller to the right representative for service.

• Enhancing customer relationships by leveraging virtual interaction capabilities to connect with customers on their terms.

• Using virtual interactions to uncover additional customer needs leading to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

• Linking internal business units and outside partners to provide seamless integrated support for customer.

Virtual interactions translate into no longer waiting for an expert to get back to customer inquiries or questions; no more sending customers forms needed to be signed or directions to go to the local office to complete transactions. Today, customers have the ability to connect now and get the help they need from a variety of channels. While consumer expectations for virtual interaction may seem daunting for insurance and financial services providers, this change in customer interaction has significant benefit potential to offer the business as well.

About the author: Rob Cornwell is a Senior Insurance Advisor within Cisco's Americas Customer Value Acceleration Team. This team works with financial services customers to drive transformational change that leverages Cisco architectures and is aligned with their business imperatives. Rob has 23 years of insurance and financial services experience including a variety of roles at State Farm. He also has been involved in industry-related associations and strategic initiatives outside of State Farm.

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 3:36:12 AM
re: 'Mayday' for Insurance Customer Service?
Hi Rob, I appreciate your insights, and I agree that video is a game changer. You can rent a car or prepare your tax returns with real time video customer support, and the experience is excellent. Video can still provide some competitive advantage today, but it's quickly becoming a customer service requirement. Thanks! Ron
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 4:22:03 PM
re: 'Mayday' for Insurance Customer Service?
Thanks, Rob, you make a lot of good points here. Esurance has made some big steps in the customer service space with their video appraisal capability and it will be interesting to see what other insurers do in the future. I agree that customers' increasing connectedness, and their higher expectations, are sure to impact how insurers interact with their customers.
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 2:18:34 PM
re: 'Mayday' for Insurance Customer Service?
Achieving "first call resolution" can be difficult, especially for financial servcies companies, but I agree it is essential in today's world of customer expectations.
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