By Chris Dickinson
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
Reputation is key in the Life & Annuity Insurance industry. Unlike many other industries, the interaction with a customer can often be based on a less than positive experience (planning for death, filing a death claim, etc.). As a result, it is of the utmost importance to ensure the customer journey is a seamless process–ensuring interactions with a customer are compelling, relevant, and displaying empathy throughout the process. Doing so is proven to help reduce customer churn, increase Net Promoter Score, and drive repeat sales.
NEOS recently partnered with LIMRA on a study (find it here) that identified desired outcomes, potential obstacles, and a “State of the Industry” related to Life and Annuity Insurance organizations’ customer experience (CX) initiatives.
As depicted above, it was found that most Insurers’ CX journeys are between “emerging” and “defined”, with more maturity on the life side of the carriers and slightly less maturity on the annuity side.
This can be attributed to life insurers having more end-to-end touchpoints in New Business, Underwriting, and with Policy Conversions, putting them in a position to focus on CX more and move up the maturity model more quickly. The annuity side is slightly less mature since many of the annuity carriers distribute through third parties, and the end result is less control of the customer and less of a need to worry about the end-to-end experience. However, as garnered from NEOS/LIMRA’s research, many annuity providers are focusing on establishing end-to-end CX frameworks and emphasizing improvement on holistic customer experiences.
Below are some key learnings from this study for both Life and Annuity Carriers:
What Carriers are Trying to Achieve with CX
- Many CX programs are focusing beyond service practices. Customer service tends to be the most mature aspect of CX, but it is essential to note that CX is not exclusive to customer service. CX models needs to be aligned across the broader organization with a wider focus than customer service.
- Aligning company goals with customer end-to-end needs is critical. This includes aligning executive performance measures around customer experience–many of the more mature organizations have those metrics in place and continue to refine them.
- Ensuring employees are aware of end-to-end CX. Many employees have frequent touchpoints with customers, yet can also be limited in their awareness of how their specific responsibilities tie into the broader experience. Ensuring staff are aware of the overarching customer journey and reducing barriers will result in a better CX.
The Biggest CX Obstacles Facing Carriers
- Competing priorities. Product-focused projects often trump CX initiatives, but CX must be integrated with other endeavors. For example, it is critical to incorporate Voice of the Customer/customer journey maps into product design, ensuring that you are enabling new capabilities to all stakeholders where they need it.
- Lack of data and services in place. Data is a critical enabler of CX processes. It is crucial to have more real-time service-based interactions for better CX, and technology that can provide this information quickly is necessary to support this. Thinking through your strategy and clearly aligning services is a critical step to ensure gaps don’t appear.
How Carriers are Moving Forward
- Move from a reactive to a proactive approach. Include VOC in future design and proactively listen and engage employees in the CX process. This will create a more consistent CX across the organization and anticipate potential change issues before they occur, leading to speedier adoption and behavior change.
- Clearly define metrics and tools. Set goals, be clear about what you want to achieve, measure progress, and refine. Many leaders have three-year programs in place and are reviewing CX initiatives monthly. You get what you measure, and that is especially true for CX.
- Address end-to-end CX in a more centralized approach. Planning and informing the entire organization of the CX strategy, progress, and gaps will ensure consistent progress and implementation of the strategy.
If your organization needs assistance in implementing CX initiatives and overcoming obstacles, contact NEOS via our website or by phone, and one of our many qualified experts will be able to assist.
 The categories are defined as:
- Initial: CX not competitive differentiator for company; no roadmap in place; measurements are not utilized
- Emerging: CX identified as important metric, not completely acted upon; process and structure in place, not fully scalable or repeatable
- Defined: CX is viewed as central to vision and mission; organizational objectives and roles understood; customer journey defined and documented
- Managed: Measuring CX and customer interactions consistently; engagement models in place and work is scheduled, planned, and measured
- Optimized: CX process and data collection optimized, communicated across organization and in sync with business demands; dedicated team focused on overall CX from start to finish