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Losing Policyholders? The Solution is Ridiculous

Insurers must do a better job of acting on voice of the customer data to identify problems in the customer experience, KPMG says.

When the word "ridiculous" is used in an insurance customer service interaction, by either the call center agent or the customer, the customer is 80% more likely to change their insurer within three months. That breath-stealing fact was delivered at business advisory firm KPMG's insurance industry conference earlier this year in New York.

"We've researched this across many different products," managing director Tracy Ah Hee told the murmuring crowd. It didn't matter whether it was an irate customer or a sympathetic agent, speech analytics revealed that once that word appeared in the interaction, four out of five times, the customer was gone.

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The anecdote was shared in a presentation focused on voice of the customer initiatives in the insurance industry. Insurers are doing a good job collecting information on what their customers are saying and doing with regard to their products. The question is whether this insight is being acted upon.

"Customer experience depends on the context and type of interaction they need at that point in time," Ah Hee says. "In auto insurance, for example, they want to speak to a human, not sit through a menu."

Insurance customers believe that "channel accessibility and ease of use is a given," adds KPMG director James Olson, who co-presented the session. "Staff engagement and related capabilities will be the key areas of investment in the future," he explains, noting that the personal conversation is increasingly important after years of investment in multichannel capabilities.

Making sure call center employees are well-versed in the products insurers provide is paramount to providing a good experience, he continues. "There's a great deal of opportunity for improvement in efforts to make call center employees better understand products so they can better understand what customers are asking about."

However, US insurers -- especially on the P&C side -- are doing a good job overall of achieving results from voice of the customer insights. "P&C insurers in the US ranked better than any other industry segment in any country, and when compared with retailers and banks, there were certain categories where insurers exceeded efforts of those sectors," he says.

For insurers overall to achieve a high level of customer experience, it's important to put the right people and metrics in place, and make sure front and back offices are aligned in shifting from a process-driven environment to a data-driven one, Olson concludes.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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