The industry is moving — slowly — toward consumers being able to navigate purchasing and using insurance products as a seamless experience. Keeping consumers happy year-round will improve customer retention. The proliferation of digital platforms, applications and new business processes are proof the industry is in transition. Form should follow function or in the case of software, business process should be governed by business rules. This requires companies to abandon the constraints of how they have done business in the past (comfortable and familiar) and instead embrace a new consumer-driven experience from end to end.

Also see:2016’s best places to work — part 1.”

Retaining customers is a year-round process

The effort needed to keep customers does not stop between enrollment periods. These trends top our list for up-and-coming customer retention strategies. Below are techniques that engage and retain customers in our contemporary age of digital employee benefits and digital insurance purchases:

1) Elegance.The online experience for the consumer has to be so engaging and obvious so no assistance is needed excepting only the most inexperienced users. Unsure folks should be able to rely on an omnipresent video coach who assists them, on demand. Ideally, the software is multi-lingual, as is the video coach. Additional human help should be available during typical business hours. The primary service model should move from active to “standby.” A well-designed system will guarantee every employee enrolls or waives each benefit or program offered.

2) Reminders. Digital platforms, including email and SMS (texting) provide ways to make reminders more functional and timely versus paper notifications or phone calls. The notification preference (email or text) should be a user preference. Sending notifications can help clients manage their wellness, insurance policies and retirement plans. Uniting the enrollment process with enduring reminders & administration is the logical path for all businesses.

3) Surveys.Surveys can be used to glean how consumers are using policies and products, and whether or not they like the product. Surveys not only give an employee a voice, but also provide great data for improving the user experience and appropriate insurance coverage for the next year’s enrollment period.

4) Mobile applications and capabilities. Brokers and carriers need to provide omni-channel support and services for consumers. Digital platforms must work on all devices, including desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Ideally, the user experience is as consistent as possible across all platforms, browsers and mobile operating systems.  Functionality should be consolidated as much as possible so the consumer has one portal for all their services — simplifying database management and login protocols. For instance, there is no need to build a separate application for cost calculations or finding a physician, when those tools can be embedded in the same portal as the policyholders account and policy information.

5) Decision support.Decision support tools help customers get the most out of their benefits and include tools such as cost transparency calculators, physician look-up functions and retirement planning portfolio rebalancing. Providing decision support resources for employees enhances the value of the benefits improving the ROI for the employer.

Also see:Voluntary benefits: Multiple markets require multiple strategies.” 

Freund, CFP, ChFC, CLU, is president of Common Census, Inc. Reach him at daniel.freund@commoncensus.com

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