Insurers have traditionally been slower than other industries when it comes to establishing themselves on social media. Worries about breaking regulations mean that they have been wary about launching onto Twitter and Facebook. Backing this up, own 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that just one insurer out of the UK’s top 10 had clear links displayed to Twitter and Facebook pages.
However according to research from North America, things are about to change, with social media moving rapidly up the agenda. The survey, from Celent, found that 98% of insurers plan to increase their use of social media in 2013, with customer service the number one priority cited by the 114 respondents.
Explaining why they’d not embraced social before, insurers saw the biggest barriers to entry as legal, regulatory and compliance uncertainties. A third of companies had not created a social media strategy, adding to these risks. Other challenges, ranked in order, were lack of top management support; shortage of skills/know-how; and lack of link with company strategy.
Despite this 80% of North American insurers were using social media (well ahead of the UK). Nearly half (45%) of the remainder planned to implement it within the next year. Of those that have already deployed social media, 98% planned to increase its use either ‘somewhat’ or ‘significantly’.
There are issues flagged by the research. Customer service was seen as the primary opportunity to use social media, but few insurers were helping their agents to use the tools. Indeed, none of the companies rated their social media management tools as excellent, with the majority feeling it was too early to provide an opinion on their usefulness.
- Create a strategy – research the market and ask yourself a series of questions. Which social media networks are your customers using? How are you going to communicate with them? Which department will be responsible? Create a strategy and then gain buy-in from the complete business.
- Enforce a social media acceptable use policy. Whatever you decide to do with social media, make sure that everyone in your company understands what they can and can’t do on these channels – and the consequences of breaking the rules.
- Set aside the right resources. There is a tendency to think of social media as free, as it costs nothing to join Twitter and Facebook. But you need to invest in training staff, buying the right management tools and ensuring that your presence matches your corporate branding and guidelines.
- Integrate social media. Don’t create a separate social media team, as this simply builds an expensive, unscalable silo around the channel. Integrate it within your overall operations, for example with your existing customer service software so that you can ensure consistent, efficient operations.
- Publicise your efforts. Make sure your customers and prospects know that you are on social media – include Facebook pages and Twitter handles on your website and in customer communication so it is easy for them to find you.
There are risks involved in social media – but the opportunities for insurers to engage with customers, solve issues quickly and drive new sales mean it should be on everyone’s agenda in 2013.
From the start the aim has been to provide updates and opinions on the customer service market, highlight best practice and show how customer needs are changing. And the market has definitely been transformed. We’ve moved from multichannel to omnichannel and new (at the time) technologies such as mobile and social media have matured to be central to the customer experience offered by every organisation.
The good news is that how companies interact with their customers has never been more important – businesses recognise that good service delivers increased sales and greater loyalty.
Since April 2011 we’ve had an incredible 31,120 views of our 195 blog posts. This means more people have viewed the blog than the population of Monaco! On a monthly basis the average is 1,200 views, a figure which is still growing. And while the UK makes up 36% of the readership, we’ve had visitors from 148 countries around the world. 15% of views come from the US, 5% India and 4.5% France.
We’ve looked through our archives and put together a list of the top 5 blog posts from the past two years:
1 Email customer service – why does it have to be so hard?
Research from the 2011 Eptica UK Multichannel Customer Service Study found that the UK’s top 100 companies were failing to deliver adequate service on the email channel. Unfortunately when we repeated the research in 2012, we found that email service had further deteriorated.
2 The key trends for customer service 2012
Based on presentations from the Eptica International Customer Summit, this post looked at the consumer and company customer service trends for 2012. Take a look through the post – the majority of the points are equally valid today for organisations looking to offer an excellent customer experience.
3 The cost of customer service failure
Fail to answer a customer’s question on one channel and they will either move to a competitor – or migrate to a more expensive channel. The result? Higher costs and angry customers. Recent research from Forrester backs up this post – 60% of customers switched from the web to the email or phone channels if they couldn’t find an answer to their question online, while 17% went to a competitor.
4 AirAsia mobile customer service app is a bestseller
With over 50% of the population now owning a smartphone, mobile is front of mind for customer experience teams. Leading low cost airline AirAsia has pioneered mobile customer service with an Apple iPhone app that relies on that same Eptica knowledgebase as other channels to provide customers with a consistent, accurate response to their queries.
5 Who should run social customer service?
Customers increasingly want to use social media to interact with businesses. With potentially thousands of customer interactions on networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which department within a company should be in charge of social customer service? The blog looks at different approaches and comes up with some recommendations for keeping customers happy.
As always, do let us have your feedback – what’s been your favourite post and why?
Customers are demanding better service through more and more channels. And they have no patience for roadblocks on the customer journey. According to Forrester 34% give up or go to a competitor after an unsuccessful website experience. Those that do persist tend to switch to your most expensive contact channels – nearly half (49%) of those that couldn’t find information online either called or emailed the organisation concerned.
So you’ll either lose the sale or will add unnecessarily to your costs by providing a substandard customer experience. In today’s fiercely competitive market this puts your very business survival at risk. But with a growing number of channels to manage and customers that want to be able to switch seamlessly between them, how do you deliver a consistent, omnichannel experience to everyone?
Based on its work with 400 leading organisations including AirAsia, TUI, Dixons, Ageas and the NHS Business Services Authority, Eptica has created a six stage approach to create a seamless omnichannel customer experience:
1. Install a single omnichannel workflow that brings all interactions together and automatically routes them to the best agent or department to answer the query. This also delivers a single view of the customer and improves efficiency.
2. Create a seamless customer journey by providing the right information at key points on all channels (phone, web, email, chat, social and mobile) to help move browsers to buyers. Make it simple for customers to move channels without having to repeat their query or re-enter information.
3. Deploy a centralised multichannel knowledgebase to deliver fast, accurate and consistent answers on every channel. Sharing knowledge from a single source not only improves the experience for customers, but increases efficiency and reduces management time and cost.
4. Increase adoption of Self-service by deploying it on your website, via mobile apps and on social media sites such as Facebook. By helping customers find answers to their own questions they don’t need to switch to other channels – reducing inbound emails by half and calls by 25% at least.
5. Analyse customer interactions across every channel. Ensure you track and trace the visibility of every interaction and measure agent performance in real time. Use technologies such as sentiment analysis to understand what your customers think of you without forcing them to fill in surveys – and use this information to improve your products and services.
6. Listen and respond to social media enquiries. As well as monitoring and replying quickly to relevant messages on Twitter and Facebook use sentiment analysis to gain a real time understanding of customer mood and how they view your brand.
To give more insight on how to deliver omnichannel success Eptica is running a webinar on 16th April 2013 at 9.30am BST. Aimed at managers in every industry you can register for the free event here.
With the English weather remaining drab and grey and Easter coming up, many people are looking to book their summer holidays. But how they do it has changed dramatically over the last ten years due to the internet. The traditional trip to the High Street travel agent has been replaced by the web, which provides virtually unlimited choice of countries, flights, destinations and places to stay.
According to new research only 7% of holidaymakers booked their last break via a shop, with 23% booking direct with the hotel or accommodation’s own website and 27% using web-based travel agencies. The market has been transformed. The latest example of how this change is affecting the travel industry came this week when Thomas Cook announced it would shut 195 shops across the UK.
The web, and particularly the rise of social media, is also driving another major change in the travel industry. The ability to share experiences, whether through social networks or review sites such as TripAdvisor is now incredibly fast and simple – and with the rise of the mobile internet you can post comments before your holiday has even finished.
1 Deliver comprehensive answers
People want their holidays to be relaxing and memorable (in a good way). So they have lots of questions before they book. Therefore make sure your website provides comprehensive answers, and look at investing in web self-service systems to improve the experience.
2 Speed of response
With the amount of choice available competition is intense. So when consumers do contact you they want a fast response – fail to answer their email quickly and they may well give up and book in at your rival hotel down the road.
3 Offer a personal service
A good travel agent understands what a customer wants and helps them choose the holiday that is right for them. This need hasn’t gone away, but in today’s world contact is likely to be via phone and instant channels, such as web chat. Arm your agents with as much information as possible about customers, such as their browsing history, and give them access to a knowledgebase of answers so they can provide informed, relevant advice.
4 Be social
There is no point hiding from the power of social media. Holidaymakers are now used to sharing their experiences and asking questions online, so it is better to embrace social media by monitoring networks and providing fast answers to customer complaints. Fail to respond and a minor issue could quickly escalate into a reputational disaster.
5 Join up customer service
There is no point offering an excellent experience on the web or phone and then failing to deliver when a holidaymaker arrives. Make sure your systems are joined up so that any special requests are seamlessly passed to hotel or resort staff and they have a proper record of all previous discussions. After all nothing annoys a customer more than having to repeat themselves.
The travel industry has been revolutionised by the internet. Moving forward the companies that survive and thrive will be those that deliver the best service across every channel to best meet holidaymakers’ needs.
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