Have you ever submitted an insurance claim and waited anxiously for a response - but did not hear back until an unannounced cheque arrived in the mail?
Or have you found yourself being actively engaged only during the sales process, and not after?
These are some frustrations cited in a Customer Journey study conducted among insurance policy holders by Singapore's leading composite insurer, NTUC Income, last December.
The study, which featured 1,600 respondents, also identified reassurance, guidance, accessibility, minimal effort, clarity and speed as key needs that influence the customer experience (CX) at different episodes in their journey with an insurer.
The ability or failure to meet them, as and when they arise, impacts the quality of experiences a customer has with an insurer.
Enhancing CX, building brand loyalty
Explaining the difference between CX and customer service, Ms Choo Kah Mun, Income's head of Customer Experience, says: "Customer service is centred on how customers are directly served and assisted, while CX is the cumulative impact of every touchpoint and interaction throughout the customer's journey that spans the entire relationship we have with them."
An exceptional CX translates to happier customers, from pre-purchase to conversion and post-sales follow-up experiences. Each stage along the customer journey can directly influence three key behaviours: Customer Loyalty, Brand Evangelism and customers' decisions in policy renewals or purchases, or lead to a word-of-mouth referral, notes Ms Choo.
Good CX is not only an enduring brand differentiator, but a critical element in building customer loyalty in the long term.
"There are limits as to how far a competitive pricing strategy can take a company," she adds. "While product innovation remains key, at the end of the day, we're all consumers ourselves. It's the human experience and personal touch that matters."
Part of an evolving digital transformation journey
Since Income embarked upon a digital transformation journey in 2017 - culminating in a brand refresh with a new tagline "Made Yours" in April this year - it continues to better understand and serve its customers.
Underpinning this is the concept of hyper personalisation, which the company believes is the future of insurance.
As such, Income's tech stack collects and harnesses insights from Income's customers across its omni-channels - online and offline touchpoints such as financial advisors, hotlines, service branches, website and apps - to generate a single, 360-degree view of them, says Ms Anny Huang, head of Digital Business.
She adds, "Every company has customer insights, but our ability to activate insights in real-time is something that not everybody has.
"After implementing tools, gathering experiences digitally and receiving feedback from agents, how can we generate a real-time response to customers? That is something that we want to deliver."
Creating a new CX benchmark within the industry
Income has drawn lessons from the Customer Journey study on how it can improve CX delivered at its various touch points, be it a face-to-face meeting with a financial advisor or the company's digital footprints such as its website and call centre.
Leveraging the groundwork laid four years ago to gather insights, Income is gearing up to harness its tech stack capabilities to further sharpen CX.
As it works towards this goal, Ms Choo cites possible outcomes including customers seamlessly transitioning across different channels and mediums when communicating with Income, easily picking up from where they left off. For instance, they can switch from a Live Chat to a call without needing to repeat themselves.
And through the use of Artificial Intelligence, voice analytics technology and sentiment analysis tools, Income can ensure customers expend minimal effort and time to make enquiries or track claim submissions.
Apart from reinforcing Income's customer-centricity approach, these outcomes reassure customers that the company is there for them every step of the way.
And while data and technology are the building blocks of CX, people are the conduits to its delivery.
Design-thinking training is ongoing for Income's 1,800-strong workforce, and each employee is integral to creating a delightful customer journey. This year, a data curriculum has also been added to further enhance their knowledge and skills.
Says Ms Huang, "Regardless of their role, everyone can see how a customer would like to be served. They also understand workflow processes better, and what kind of an impact they can make."
Adds Ms Choo, "I'm very proud of how there is truly a concerted effort to be more customer-centric, and to adopt a new, agile way of working. That's very inspiring to see."