Each year, J.D. Power releases its U.S. Insurance Shopping Study. The study for 2016 revealed that while insurers are investing in more digital channels with the customer experience in mind, they are facing challenges when it comes to converting online quotes to online sales.
According to Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power, “Direct writers have invested heavily in digital channels to increase the functionality and ease of using their websites, which has clearly created an advantage for direct distribution relative to traditional agency distribution in some respects and has supported agency distribution in others.”
Let’s break down what Hoeg means by that statement, using data from the study:
- While nearly half of insurance customers obtain a quote via insurer websites, only 25% actually purchase their policy online.
- 50% close through a live agent.
- 22% close over the phone via a call center.
While the study does not mention where the other 3% comes from, it does state that the reason for these numbers is the underperformance of agency writer websites.
Hoeg’s assessment, based on this data, is that “While many customers want to shop online, they often still want to talk to someone when they buy their insurance to make sure they are getting the right coverage or have questions about their policy answered.”
The study also states that while “maintaining a competitive advantage in digital capabilities through websites and mobile applications is critical, insurers need to focus on the delicate balance of providing an easy shopping experience while providing product differentiation and professional service.”
The statistical findings from the study show us that when it comes to things as important as insurance, a customer feels much more comfortable interacting with a live agent.
Not too many years ago, it would have seemed impossible to provide the customer with a digital face-to-face experience. Recent innovations allow us to do just that. The key to making this work is using a suite of channels that has been integrated into the insurer’s site.
To create a customer experience that not only meets expectations but more importantly leads to conversion, there are two things to consider:
With insurance products, the demographic span is wide. Everyone from recent college graduates making their way into the workforce to retirees who have just relocated can be looking for coverage for vehicles, home, or life insurance. They each bring a different set of needs and a different generationally-based style of communication to the table.
A baby boomer looking to insure his or her retirement home may only be comfortable talking face-to-face with an agent, coupled with real-time guidance on an insurer’s website. A young professional searching for coverage on a new vehicle may prefer to engage by just chat while they multi-task during their work day.
There are several other personas in-between those two ends of the spectrum, and the more engagement channels an insurer has made available, the better positioned they are to service the customer in a way that fits.
Levels of Engagement
In addition to demographics, prospective customers are going to have preferences based on their sensory makeups.
Insurance is an intangible product. It’s not something a customer can get in and drive off the lot or go show their friends. Because of this, insurance sales depend largely on engaging the customer emotionally.
Remember the old sales adage that still works today? “Customers buy with emotion and rationalize the purchase with logic.”
People usually have one dominant sense and it’s either visual, auditory or kinesthetic. (You can take this test to see which one you are.)
In addition to providing a choice of channels that will fit the preferences determined by demographics, it is also important that each of these three engagement modalities can be serviced. The multiple channels of the Glia platforms cover each of the three.
An Omnichannel Platform
To meet the requirements needed to provide a customer experience that actually converts, an agile ominchannel platform is the best solution.
Any insurance company could go out and find different providers for multiple channels and try to put them all together, but it would be expensive and time-consuming. It could also create logistical migraines when it comes to integration and on-site implementation.
The good news is, Glia has already done the heavy lifting. As a result we have created an award-winning solution that incorporates channels that cover the demographic and engagement targets outlined above.
Not only can the Glia platform be easily implemented to perform onsite, it’s also compatible with all of the major CRM platforms.
Here are the channels that Glia incorporates within its platform:
Chat- A lot of companies are starting to use chat lately. While it’s a great on-site solution, because it is being more and more widely used it takes more than just a bot or a chat representative to stand out from the competition. This white paper will show you how the Glia chat solution creates a 150% increase in chat-to-bind conversion rate.
Engagement Modality: Visual. Some customers just want to read information and don’t want to engage on a deeper level. The good news about non-bot chat is that the agent can still direct the customer towards the close.
Video Chat- Here is where a company can implement a face-to-face interaction with the customer. Is the customer live in front of the agent? Well, pretty close to it. Video chat allows a customer to put a face to the name. All of the advantages of non-verbal sales communication and trust in someone that can be “looked in the eye” come into play with video chat communication. (Also, with the Glia platform, a customer can interact with your agent with their camera turned off making it a web-based phone conversation on their end)
Engagement Modality: Visual, as the customer can see the agent and be comforted by the fact that they know who they are talking to. Auditory, because they hear the agent’s voice. Kinesthetic, since the customer can build rapport with a real person in real time.
CoBrowsing- Glia has a very special proprietary option to add to the platform. CoBrowsing, while relatively new, has proven itself to be a very effective channel for enhancing the customer experience. Think of it this way: a customer comes onto a site and while they are interacting with any or all of the other channels, an agent is able to guide them through the site in real time sharing the experience onsite. There is no risk or exposure on the part of the customer, because of the safety measures that have been built into the Glia platform.
Engagement Modalities: Kinesthetic and visual. Glia’s CoBrowsing solution helps to guide customers from the greeting to the close. When coupled with video chat, it’s very close to a customer being in the office with an agent. Glia has found that video combined with CoBrowsing creates a 138% ROI over just chat.
All of the channels mentioned above have been proven to be successful standing alone. But each of them have their limitations. An insurer can give a customer access to all of them at once, or any one of them singularly, and each one of the demographic factors and engagement levels can be serviced to provide a customer experience that leads to conversion.
To see how the Glia platform works, insurers can take it out for a test drive.