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4 trends shaping contact centers in the insurance industry

Did you know that contact centers have seen a 300% increase in call center volume in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic? As one can imagine, this rapid and drastic change in customer behavior has had ripple effects on everything from revenue generation to customer experience. 

The insurance industry has acutely felt these impacts to the contact center, as interactions with policyholders can be limited to only a handful of times a year between claims, renewals, and open enrollment.

With such a narrow window of opportunity to connect with policyholders, the challenge for insurance companies is multifold. They must deliver valuable, consistent, and personalized experiences to the customer. In order to do this, they must also ensure that their agents have the necessary tools at their disposal to drive value to the customer and to the business. 

In our new ebook, we are exploring the key trends impacting these challenges in the insurance industry, critical strategies for success, and why the future of contact center success is inextricably linked with AI technology. 

Today’s post is previewing four big trends that we’ve identified as impacting the insurance industry, particularly as it intersects with contact centers. Download the full ebook or more on how to keep pace with these trends. 

Trends shaping the insurance industry 

The four trends below continue to have tremendous impact on the intersection of contact centers and generating value in the insurance industry, and require a strategic and full response. 

The contact center as a high-velocity revenue generator 

Macroeconomic and global forces mean that growth and profitability are more top of mind than ever for businesses. The contact center is uniquely positioned to be a driver of revenue in a role it has not previously occupied quite so fully. 

According to HubSpot research, 68% of cross-selling professionals offer discounts and promotions, and another 66% recommend related or complementary products and services. 

Similarly, upselling is a key strategy for delivering premium packages and product options to customers. Without a key understanding of not only the products, policies, and options on offer and how they align with customers’ needs, agents will be unable to deliver a customer experience that will convert and drive value. 

As contact centers look to diversify the ways that they deliver revenue, empowering agents with the information they need to effectively and efficiently upsell and cross-sell is critical. 

Lack of customer trust 

When people pay for insurance, they’re paying for peace of mind — everyone sleeps easier knowing they’ll be supported if they have an unexpected trip to the ER or receive a scary diagnosis. But despite the role insurance plays in quelling health-related anxieties, it isn’t known as an especially customer-centric industry

In fact, most people don’t totally trust their insurance providers, and there aren’t typically frequent opportunities to change that. This lack of trust is also compounded by the vastly different perspective that insurance providers have on the same topic. While nearly 42% of policyholders say they don’t fully trust their insurer, 62% of insurers believe their customer service is above average. Similarly, insurers seem unaware of policyholders’ priorities during interactions. 64% of consumers say sentiment analysis is important; just 44% of insurers say the same. 68% of customers are looking for empathy from customer service staff – but how can leaders ensure that empathy is a consistent part of their contact center playbook? 

Such a disparity between customer expectations and customer experience leaves this an area that is ripe for improvement. And with recent research showing that American businesses lose over $62 billion in revenue due to poor customer service, the ability to deliver value to the customer and the business’ top line are inextricably linked. 

Investment in infrastructure and technology  

Consumers have high expectations of having a fast and efficient, yet also deeply personalized, customer experience. Recent research shows that 60% of customers are in favor of applying AI to customer service because of its ability to quickly resolve concerns and issues. A further 69% anticipate that businesses will be implementing and accelerating digital initiatives. 

The transition to digital over the last decade has reshaped the way that work is done across industries. We’ve seen an explosion in digital solutions and platforms that are custom-built to different use cases across an organization. However, prioritizing consumer-facing technology at the expense of technology that engages and empowers employees is a common pitfall. 

Insurers know that there is room for improvement – 85% have plans to deploy initiatives to improve the experience of not only customers, but also of employees. Innovation and a willingness to experiment here will only further allow insurers to become more customer-centric. 

A willingness to innovate and invest in digital platforms will not only allow insurers to proactively anticipate and fulfill customer expectations, but also to drive profitable growth. 

Surging need for staffing 

Recent research shows that 68% of companies are planning to increase staff during the next 12 months due to an expected increase in business volume. One recent study showed that Average Handle Time (AHT) alone has increased for 55% of companies. This is not surprising as routine inquiries or easy-to-resolve issues are more frequently handled via self-service channels – leaving the more complex issues to the agent to address. 

Health insurers may find this especially difficult. Contact centers handle a greatly increased volume of conversations during annual events like open enrollment, leaving insurers vulnerable to inadequate staffing. However, since the volume increase is short-lived, it’s not always feasible for the business to permanently staff up.

Insurers are often so focused on retaining policyholders that they may forget to prioritize retaining their representatives. It’s never been harder to hire, maintain. and engage employees – and the implications for the bottom line have never been bigger. 

What do you think about these trends and their impact on contact centers in the insurance industry? Let us know on Twitter! To read even more about these trends and the strategies for not only staying on top of them but thriving through them, download our new ebook: How AI helps insurance providers grow revenue and improve the customer experience.