Customer Service During COVID-19

As an insurance provider, we all know that customer service is paramount. The need to provide customers with exceptional care, products and services, assistance and trust is never more critical than during a pandemic.

Insurance means protection, an assurance that when it is most needed, insurance provides a much-needed life raft. During the pandemic, many different insurance products – health, life, travel, business, business interruption, workers’ compensation – come into play.

How can you make sure your insurance company is providing the kinds of service your customers need the most during a pandemic? Consider taking these steps.

Make Buying a Policy Easier

Searches of “online car insurance” and similar terms have skyrocketed in recent months. Consumers need easier ways to purchase insurance online and understand the complex pieces of putting together a policy. That means online portals that clearly identify what personal information is necessary, what coverages are mandatory and at what levels, and restrictions on things like age, deductibles and payouts. Consumers need to know that information will remain confidential and that sometimes, quotes are not instantaneous. Being transparent about the entire process is the first step toward building trust and loyalty.

Make Selling a Policy Easier

Your agents, many of whom are working remotely for the foreseeable future, need help, too, in delivering exceptional service. They need access to reliable, branded websites and video conferencing solutions that let them connect with consumers to replicate an in-person process as closely as possible. Their customer relationship management (CRM) systems need to be seamlessly integrated with policy-building tools and lead management functions.

Sales agents need access to analytics that measure performance and let them focus on the best potential customers, while serving existing customers well. Analytical tools allow agents to see where their time can be maximized, and offer a foolproof methodology for creating an immediate hierarchy of needs.

As you adapt policies to reflect the pandemic, your agents and customer service staff will likely need more training on what’s new and how to respond to customers.

Recognize the Pandemic Reality

COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn are dire situations for many policyholders. Consider reaching out to policyholders not to market new products, but out of a sense of concern and support. In some cases, reviewing policies with customers may allow policyholders to discover helpful benefits that had previously not been accessed. At the same time, reaching out to show you truly care about the wellbeing of your clients may just offer them a little bit of happiness, hope, or mental wellness.

Staying true to your corporate values, which likely underscore service to customers and community, is imperative. In addition to digital tools, consider offering home delivery of documents, digital signatures and shifts to self-service models that allow customers to act independently and from home.

Adapt Policies to Fit Pandemic Needs

The pandemic has drastically changed the way people work and live. Some terms need to change in order to address these new realities. Commercial policies, for example, may need to factor in that personal cars are going to be used for business deliveries. Work location definitions for workers’ compensation insurance may need to be modified. FAQ pages on websites need to be updated and a dedicated COVID-19 response page is also a smart idea.

Insurers have offered some modest responses already. Auto insurers are offering rebates based on lack of usage. Health insurers have allowed for telehealth coverage at reduced or free co-payments or allowed refunds on services that customers are reluctant to take advantage of, such as elective surgeries and dental care.

Flexibility is also wise when it comes to payment timing, late fees, cancellation policies, and reduced premiums for less use. These types of initiatives can be helpful in helping customers navigate potentially difficult times.

Use and Monitor Social Media

Social media can be effective in several ways during the pandemic. It’s an effective way to communicate changes and the availability of customer-based services. It’s also a good way to gauge responses from customers to policy changes and customer needs. Monitoring your social media channels and responding to customers directly when they post on social is an effective way for your customers to know they are being heard.

Consider New Products

The insurance industry undoubtedly will change as a result of the pandemic. Some carriers are exploring whether pandemic or epidemic insurance policies, with lump-sum payments made if an incident is declared. Others are considering usage-based policies for things like auto insurance, where telematics would track miles driven and adjust policy premiums accordingly.

An unshakeable focus on customer service during the pandemic has both short- and long-term benefits for your insurance agency. With more focus on customers and their needs, your firm will weather the storm and come out stronger.