For this month’s post we have taken a slightly different perspective. After an underwhelming firsthand experience with an insurance company that appeared to have missed the bigger picture, we decided that this edition we’d look at how not to implement digital technology.
It is fair to say that many companies are feeling the pressure to have a digital presence, but technology is moving at such a rapid pace. There are so many trends and products vying for attention, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and overlook the end goal. The fundamental problem with not applying a well thought-out digital strategy is that it can often do more harm than good, leading to more disgruntled and frustrated customers than the absence of a digital strategy at all. As Insurance Thought Leadership put it, digital is a ‘how’, not a ‘what’, and unfortunately for this particular insurance company, their example confirms this.
In addition to angering and inconveniencing your customers, a flawed digital strategy can often miss sales and marketing opportunities – one of the top benefits technology has to offer. Here are Ebix’s recommendations when it comes to applying technology to your customer service.
Don’t do tech updates during business hours.
No matter how inconvenient it may be to your business it is unforgivable to do tech or website updates during business hours. Would you do the vacuuming of your store during business hours or have your staff take breaks at the busiest times of the day? I didn’t think so. Rendering your online services as unavailable during business hours is just as inconsiderate to your customers or potential customers, not to mention its impact on revenue.
Train your employees with any new technology.
Even your employees will agree with us on this one! It is just not excusable to introduce a range of new technology without having trained your employees how to use it first. It will undoubtedly hinder the overall customers’ experience and leave them with a poor impression of your staff members. Don’t forget all the people your customers will tell about their unimpressive service. It is safe to say that most of your employees would prefer to know how to use the technology needed to do their job properly and deliver great experiences to their customers.
QA Testing, lots of it!
Before you train your employees on how to use your technology, you need to make sure it actually works. At Ebix all our products go through rigorous testing and must meet specific standards before we release them into the market for using. This not only means that our customers end up happier, but it saves us a lot of headaches in the long run. If your company is introducing any type of customer facing technology it is imperative that it at least works. The “convenience” of technology is very quickly stripped away when it can’t serve its purpose, and what was intended to please your customers has now turned into a frustratingly far from convenient bad experience. If substantial testing has taken place your technology is more likely to avoid such pitfalls.
Say it with me “Marketing is not a dirty word”
Some companies fear marketing but believe it or not, your customers appreciate being marketed to, when it is relevant to them. You likely have all this customer data sitting in a database, why not use it to increase revenue and please existing customers?
Take my experience as an example of what could have been a missed business opportunity and the chance to make me a very satisfied customer: I signed up for health insurance with a well-known insurance company. One of the reasons I had chosen to go with this company was because they offered a discount on pet insurance for their members which I was also in the market for. During my signup experience which included a few emails, some online forms being filled in, not once was pet insurance mentioned. If I hadn’t already known about the member discount, this would have been a missed opportunity to cross market the company’s other products, and I may never have signed up for pet insurance.
What was worse was that I attempted to apply for the pet insurance online; however it requested a discount code in order for me to claim my membership offer which I had never received. Rather than being able to sign up to pet insurance from the comfort of my couch, I had to go in store.
Lucky for this company I knew about the discount and I was bothered to go in store, otherwise they would have missed out on not one, but two pet insurance policies. It’s much easier (and less expensive) to market and sell to an existing customer than a new one. A company’s customer database is one of their biggest assets, so be sure to make use of it.
Stop for one moment and try to count how many logins and passwords you have online? If you’re like me, it’s probably in the hundreds! And many of your customers are likely in a similar position. So when creating a Customer Self Service portal it would be wise to consider how you might be able to consolidate an individual customer’s multiple policies into the one online account. It will create a smoother experience for your customers and probably make your backend a little cleaner as well, which in turn will lead to easier database maintenance and clarity for your customer service team.
Give the customer as much reasonable control as possible
There are many benefits to offering your clients Customer Self Service, including time saved by staff and convenience for your customers. It makes sense that the more access and control you give to your customers, the more these benefits increase. It is also important to understand that giving your customers too much control could have a negative impact, such as confusion for the customer or manipulation of data. Finding the right balance will avoid these risks and deliver just the right amount of convenience. Not enough control and your customer could be left questioning why you bothered implementing this service at all.
Update your communication channels to reflect your other strategies.
If a customer walked into one of your stores and purchased a policy, and later came back because they had a question or query, would you tell them to walk away and use the phone? No, probably not. So why would you have an ecommerce website where people can purchase from your business online but they can’t talk to you online? If you are going to create an ecommerce channel for your business it only makes sense that you have a customer service channel that complements it. Someone who has signed up online is unlikely to prefer communication over the phone or in store. At the very least you should offer a ‘Contact Us’ enquiry form on your website. But even better is if you have a customer service email address and online instant chat. Just make sure you have a team on the other side to answer any enquiries in a timely manner.
Bonus: If you have the right CRM you can import your online communication into your customer database – much more convenient and accurate than relying on staff to enter in details after a phone call has happened, not to mention time saving.
Introducing any change to a company is always a challenge, technology especially. Although it is easy to get caught up in all the latest tech trends we recommend taking a step back when it comes to implementing a new technology strategy into your business. Looking at the bigger picture and always keeping the end goal in mind will help you keep on track to achieving a successful technology implementation and delivering an outstanding and convenient customer experience.