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A policyholder named Jason had questions about the claim forms his insurance carrier asked him to fill out. He tried to use online self-service and even interacted with a chatbot, but neither option gave him the information he needed. Frustrated, he picked up the phone. The agent answered his specific questions but seemed rushed and ended the call with Jason still confused. He called back two more times, and each agent left something unresolved. Jason felt like he was doing all the work. He spoke to a manager who apologized for the lackluster service and explained that they were handling higher call volumes with fewer resources. Jason felt let down.
Digital channels and self-service options give customers convenient access to more information and support. But, for more complex issues, live agents are still needed. And when it comes to insurance, 72% of customers still prefer a phone call, according to “The connected customer experience” report. That means your agents’ skills in resolving issues and engaging customers with empathy are mission-critical. Developing those skills and meeting customer expectations can be a challenge — even for the best contact center teams. They don’t always get it right.
Adding channels isn’t likely to fix that. But adding digital workforce engagement tools can help.
When integrated with your contact center solution, workforce engagement management (WEM) tools enable agents to deliver more helpful, empathetic experiences.
Policyholders want to feel heard and understood. During a crisis that requires them to file a claim, they also want to talk with an agent who can guide the interaction efficiently and with empathy. A complex workflow can disrupt the agent’s ability to focus on the caller’s needs. Spending time searching different systems for policy details or relevant information about the policyholder distracts the agent and disrupts the conversation flow — and that can frustrate the policyholder and agent alike.
Bringing all data and processes into a single unified platform can save agents time and improve their focus on callers’ needs. Quick access to relevant policyholder information, such as claim details and conversation history, also gives agents important context for personalizing the conversation. Plus, it creates service continuity when multiple agents interact with the same policyholder.
Tools like agent-assist can do even more to help agents guide the conversation. Using an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered engine, agent-assist surfaces the next-best steps, along with answers to frequently asked questions. This guidance can be especially helpful for agents who support multiple sophisticated products.
More advanced assistance tools also display a confidence score to help the agent decide if the suggestion is a good fit. With machine learning, agents can improve future suggestions by rating each one. This in-the-moment support frees agents to focus more intently on the conversation and respond more quickly to a policyholder’s needs.
By helping the agent maintain attention on the caller, agent-assist creates a more fluid interaction that enhances customer satisfaction. The efficiency gained allows the contact center to maintain the quality of the customer experience when call volume is high or contact center staffing is low.
As automation and self-service increasingly handle tasks like simple inquiries and product quotes, contact center agents spend more time dealing with lengthy, complex and varied interactions. These interactions might require specialized skills, especially if the agent is supporting and servicing sophisticated products or dealing with a new claims process. That means skill development and quality assurance are crucial. Ensuring consistent quality on calls can be difficult. Random sampling is time-consuming — a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
Speech and text analytics can automate the process and ensure all interactions are evaluated. The analytics can score the agent on the metrics you choose, such as an empathy metric, and flag problems based on the conversation. For example, a carrier might want to ensure agents are encouraging policyholders to use a mobile app when submitting photos showing damage with a claim. With word and topic spotting, speech and text analytics can flag a conversation in which the agent asked the policyholder to email the photos instead. That flag could trigger the manager to assign the agent with training on the mobile app.
Quality dashboards that aggregate data enable managers to see overall team performance, spot trends over time and pinpoint skill development opportunities for individual agents. Sentiment analysis can also help the manager determine quickly whether a caller had a positive or negative experience. If the dashboard is updated with analytics running in near-real time, the manager can offer coaching to agents right away.
The same analytics that enable managers to pinpoint interaction issues can also empower agents to manage their performance. Agent dashboards that display KPIs give agents insights as they monitor their personal metrics. Gamification uses motivational tools to nurture continued growth. Agents can see how coaching and other learning opportunities impact performance and then compare themselves with other team members. With a dose of healthy competition, agents can challenge one another to improve their overall performance.
According to the MIT Technology Review Insights report “Customer experience and the future of work,” 96% of CX executives who responded to the survey say they struggle to recruit contact center agents. And 62% report increased hiring costs. The key is to keep agents and keep them engaged is to empower agents to drive performance metrics. This allows them to be more committed to both the organization and its customers — and it means your contact center can maintain a consistent delivery of outstanding customer experiences. That creates customer satisfaction can lead to overall agent satisfaction, which reduces agent attrition.
In the insurance industry, the contact center agent’s role is critical in maintaining customer satisfaction. They do much more than provide price quotes and resolve billing questions. Policyholders rely heavily on agents to guide them through difficult experiences; keeping agents trained, supported and engaged is a key component in the customer experience. Even as digital transformation reshapes the industry, personalized service remains a strong differentiator that customers value and will repay with loyalty. And a loyal customer is a long-term customer.
To learn more about consumer expectations with insurance companies — and where providers are succeeding and failing, read our report “The insurance industry’s empathy gap.”