Call centres are an important part of the customer journey for insurance companies, and improving the experience could result in higher retention rates

Research shows as little as one bad experience can turn away a customer

Josh Ayres is head of emerging technologies at contact centre consultancy and technology provider IP Integration. He draws on his knowledge on the insurance industry to discuss three ways call centres can be improved to increase customer retention rates. 


Customer retention in the insurance industry is a number one priority.

Not only is it five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one – according to research by ecommerce consultancy Invesp – but in an increasingly competitive market, customers have plenty of other options.

With the likes of price comparison sites growing in number, it’s likely customers will shop around before renewing their car, house or contents insurance.

According to market data analytics company Consumer Intelligence, in 2017 84% of customers scoped out the market before renewing their motor insurance, with only 53% remaining with their existing insurer.

insurance customer retention
Josh Ayres, head of emerging technology at IP Integration (Credit: IPI)

Standing out from the crowd is a must if insurers are to retain customers and boost brand loyalty, and one of the most effective ways of differentiating themselves from other options on the market is through offering a more efficient, digital-savvy customer service.


Use chatbots to boost customer retention rates in insurance

The importance of insurance customer service is not to be underestimated, with research from software firm Acquia finding 76% of consumers admit they are likely to switch brands after a bad experience.

If a customer has chosen a particular insurer, they will expect the customer service experience to match their policy expectations, or their loyalty will waiver.

The heart of this experience lies in the contact centre, where agents are the first-port-of-call for complaints, renewals and cancellations.

As such, the call centre should be a key target when it comes to improving customer service and retaining customers.

Technological advancements in automation technology are revolutionising the customer experience in insurance.

Widespread adoption of automation technology is already being seen, and contact centre analyst firm Contact Babel estimates that 94% of insurance providers will enable an online chatbot by 2020.

Chatbots can drastically improve the quality and resolution speed of a customer’s query. By speaking with a chatbot on the insurer’s website, for example, customers can update their address without ever having to pick up the phone and wait for an agent to be free.

insurance customer retention
Automation software can save time for customers and call centre agents

Even if a customer does need to call, automated tools are able to accelerate this process by taking on some of the mundane tasks usually assigned to the human agent, such as updating payment details.

A robotic agent will not only reduce the overall call handling time – a key metric in the contact centre – but will also enable insurance agents to spend more time on complex customer queries.

Freeing up agents’ time means they can provide a more personalised customer experience, and since management consultancy Accenture recently found 33% of consumers will abandon a business because there’s no personalisation in the customer service – this is no trivial matter.

Dealing with calls efficiently and offering a personalised service should be the main goal of insurance call centre agents. Not only will an efficient resolution ensure a happy customer, but also reinforces their loyalty.


Ease the burden on call-centre agents

While automated technology helps customers get a swift answer to their query through 24/7 service, it is also extremely beneficial to the agents working in the call centres.

Maintaining positive morale and productivity can be tough in a call centre, and as such, employee engagement has become a top priority for contact centres.

Wellbeing initiatives such as a four-day working week and flexible working hours are becoming more frequent, with automation technology also being used to ease the burden carried by busy agents.

Speech analytics is an automation tool that can be especially beneficial to lightening an insurance agent’s workload.

Automating some of the workflow can make the difference between stressed and happy agents

Voice recognition software and speech analytics are capable of analysing thousands of hours of call recordings in seconds, unearthing useful information that can help the agent resolve a customer query in a shorter space of time.

Taking stress out of the workflow for an insurance agent can increase their focus and job satisfaction, which translates into better service for the customer, making their retention more likely.


Give customers options to communicate

As well as having their query resolved quickly, customers also want to be able to reach their insurance provider in all kinds of ways, whether this means speaking with an agent via email, on the phone, or chatting with a bot on an app.

Younger customers in particular, who are never far away from their mobile devices, expect help from their insurers to be available on a variety of platforms.

Technology giant IBM recently found 29% of insurance customers said the option to buy a policy through a mobile device would significantly increase their loyalty to their insurer.

Many insurers have already invested in automated chatbots, with Allianz using Allie and the Co-op using Mia to answer insurance queries 24/7, and Zurich’s Zara assisting customers at the point of claim for property and motor policies.

Of course, many customers will still want to use traditional channels to make a claim, but in offering a wide range of contact points, as well as a speedy resolution to their query, insurance brands are more likely to increase their customer retention rates.