For the time being, the pandemic feels largely over, at least from the perspective of lockdowns, mandatory masks, social distancing, and widespread quarantines. For nearly three years, organizations have sprinted to respond to the new realities of digital servicing, remote work, talent shortages, resignations, and getting sick. It was a dizzying, chaotic, and roll-with-the-punches time for customer experience teams.
These groups often found themselves scrambling to stand up digital capabilities, implement employee surveys, enable intermediaries with digital marketing, and deal with astronomical call volumes, sometimes with AI-powered data analytics lying behind these initiatives. Stopgap measures, exigencies, and Band-Aids characterized this reaction, but so did innovation, acceleration, and omnichannel enablement. The financial services and insurance industries have made it through, one way or another—some institutions more successfully than others.
But it is time to reassess the situation. The capabilities stood up to withstand COVID-19 fallout have had three years to prove their ROI, and organizations can start to methodically analyze what works and what doesn’t. Customer data regulations have started to catch up with the dazzling new digital and analytics capabilities that have proliferated over the past few years.
Consumers might prefer analog experiences, are becoming suspicious of or indifferent to hyper-personalization, and, with the rat race back to full speed, just need to get things done fast. And employees, whose satisfaction and well-being has been the focus of attention in 2021-2022, are now staring down recession fears and layoffs that will torpedo the flexibility and empathy that they earned during the pandemic.
Aite-Novarica Group has focused on ten of the top trends that will impact customer experience in the insurance and financial services industries in 2023.
Some of these are:
- “Total experience” strategies require “total measurement” implementations: Improvements to the experiences of employees and intermediaries that were put into effect during the pandemic not only need to be better measured, but that measurement needs to be integrated and correlated with customer satisfaction or NPS as well as business metrics. Omnichannel capabilities, such as chat or SMS, similarly need a measurement strategy that integrates with pre-existing web, mobile, or analog activity. The pandemic may have galvanized companies to implement these capabilities, but now these teams have to bring the measurement of these activities under one roof.
- Customers seek a fusion of inclusion and personalization in their experiences with brands: Customers want to feel unique, with specific needs and preferences, and they have come to expect that brands will personalize the experiences that they offer to customers. AI-based personalization in the form of next-best-action analytics or recommendation engines have been more commonly deployed by financial institutions and insurers for cross-sell, upsell, and channel management. But consumers are also feeling the need to belong, to be part of an exclusive group—”preferred,” “elite”, “silver,” etc.—with exclusive experiences associated with that branded membership. Companies should embrace this apparent contradiction and adjust their services and products accordingly.
- Customers’ renewed appreciation of time drives improvement of self-service channels: The pandemic forced customers to use digital channels to self-serve their transactions with banks and insurers, and organizations stood up these capabilities accordingly. However, another shift caused by reduction in COVID-19 precautions is the increase in value of time, as commutes, kids’ activities, business travel, and the conference cycle have all returned after a 1-2-year hiatus. Under these circumstances, self-serve might take more time as customers need to navigate through the layout and design of the online website and mobile app. Whether true or not, a phone call to the service center or pop into a branch might be perceived as more time efficient. Companies should acknowledge this and enhance their self-serve channels to provide time-efficient service.
- Vendors monetize customer data, but regulators draw the line: Cloud-based, SaaS platforms that offer core functionality to insurers and financial institutions, or that provide a single point of integration to agents and advisors, are finding themselves increasingly tempted to monetize the vast amounts of data that pass through their systems. This data can be provided to clients for competitive benchmarking, predictive analytics, or market analysis. However, vendors need to be careful when monetizing customer data—new data ownership and privacy regulations make the consent trail critically important to document and maintain.
To learn more about the rest of the ten trends, please read our full report Top 10 Trends in Customer Experience, 2023: Synthesizing Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Expectations. You can also watch the recording of our in-depth discussion of these trends from our webinar in February.