U.S. Insurance Companies Fail to Deliver on Digital Customer Experience

In this day and age of seemingly omnipresent digital customer experience, it’s interesting to note an industry that is not delivering in this area: Insurance companies.

Consider that, for U.S. insurers, only 28% are able to answer customer queries via web, email, and social media, according to the 2016 Eptica Insurance Multichannel Customer Experience Study.

It appears that many U.S. insurers are stuck in an analog world, unable to respond accurately, quickly, or consistently, the study notes. What’s more, 14% of U.S. insurers failed to respond successfully on either email, social media, or chat. While email was the strongest channel for answers, with a 37% success rate, the average time to receive a response was nearly two days (1 day, 23 hours, 38 minutes).

Eptica evaluated100 leading U.S. insurance companies (spread across 10 sectors) on their ability to provide answers to routine questions via email, the web, chat, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, 1,000 consumers were polled on how long they were willing to wait for responses on these channels.

According to the study, insurers provided answers to 30% of questions on their websites, 23% in response to Facebook messages, and 12% to tweeted queries. There were major discrepancies, though, among specific sectors – pet insurers answered 57% of questions online, compared to 15.5% among long-term care providers. One dental insurer responded to an email in 13 minutes – while another took more than six days to answer the same question.

“The insurance industry is at a crossroads, with the rise of digital disrupting traditional ways of doing business,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and co-founder of Eptica. “To succeed in this new world, insurers need to prioritize the digital customer experience, yet the Eptica study shows that they are struggling to adapt and move away from analog channels. Digital doesn’t just benefit consumers, but also drives greater efficiency and enables innovation – it is therefore time for insurers to learn from their peers in other industries and apply best practice to their operations to meet changing customer needs.”

Apparently, insurers are out of step with consumer expectations.

While more than half of consumers (57%) expect a response on Twitter within half an hour, just 26% of insurers met this deadline, with the majority of replies then not answering the queries. What’s more, 61% of consumers complained that they could not find information on company websites half the time they looked for it.

When it comes to social media, response speed revealed far-ranging results. The study shows that one long-term care insurer successfully responded to a tweet in under two minutes, while 13 companies answered on Facebook within five minutes. Conversely, 20 insurers took more than six hours to respond on social media, with three taking a day or more.

“There was little consistency between different channels, showing that many are taking a silo-based approach to customer service that pushes up costs and slows down service,” the study notes.

Here are some other key study findings:

68% of responses on email, Twitter, and Facebook asked the researcher to change channel and call, even for the most basic queries

47% of insurers failed to provide consistent answers between different channels

Just one company replied on all four channels of email, Facebook, Twitter, and chat

17% of insurers claimed to offer chat, yet only 5% had it operational when they were evaluated

Nearly half (46%) of consumers said they’d spend just five minutes searching for information on a company website before giving up and going elsewhere

U.S. performance trails the U.K., where insurers answered 54% of all questions, 80% asked via email, and 45% via the web.

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