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Microsoft Industry Blogs

There are many opportunities for suboptimal customer service in the insurance industry today.

In a complex ecosystem of intermediaries and agents, ownership of the end customer can sometimes be lost. Coordination between intermediaries and insurers is often poor. And this is all compounded by the fact that customers want the option of interacting with the insurer via the channel of their choosing, and receiving a consistent level of service at all times. Any offering that falls short of their expectations can lead to disillusionment and, ultimately, lost sales.

To overcome this and give customers the service they have come to expect, the industry needs to adopt a new level of openness to innovation. They must also look to break down information siloes across their organization. By doing this, they can then look to establish the customer as the focal point of their sales and marketing efforts.

So how exactly can they achieve this?

The value of CRM

For many, a modern customer relationship management (CRM) system holds the key to operational excellence, great customer service and long-term success.

“Insurers are fighting decades of habit, transitioning from a product-centered to a customer-centered sales and service approach,” explained Mike Fitzgerald, senior analyst within Celent’s Insurance Group in a recent Celent report. “Many are investing in CRM in order to meet customers’ new expectations and improve coordination across and within the distribution chain.”

In large part, insurers are looking to invest in a new CRM system to help them deliver a true omni-channel experience to their customers. According to the Celent report, more than 80% are going ahead with implementations for this reason alone.

In industries such a retail, the benefits of implementing an omni-channel strategy are already well documented. Research by Deloitte finds that retailers with presence across store and non-store channels are succeeding in capturing additional sales – one leading UK fashion brand has reported a 26% rise in profits thanks to its new omni-channel strategy. Meanwhile EY reports that in addition to sales growth, omni-channel is helping to improve consumer insight, strengthen consumer loyalty and boost competitive differentiation.

Unified channels

For insurance companies, an omni-channel strategy involves unifying their online, mobile and contact center channels, and directly integrating these channels with their core insurance systems – all of which can be done through a CRM system.

With an integrated channel offering, insurers stand a much greater chance of meeting their customers’ needs. The customer is satisfied because they can engage with the insurer and get access to the information they need via the channels of their choosing, all while being assured of a consistent, seamless and personalized experience.

Agents, meanwhile, have the opportunity to offer great customer service by having access to a single version of the truth about each and every customer.

True customer insight

With a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrated with transaction, collaboration and productivity functionality through Office 365, agents and underwriters can gain a comprehensive view of the customer and their interactions across all channels – using it as both a tool to gather information and then centrally store it.

Having a 360-degree view of the customer is invaluable for boosting profitability and increasing productivity. With all the information they need at their fingertips, agents can communicate with customers more efficiently and effectively, price up policies more easily and identify upsell or cross-sell opportunities. At the same time, they have the opportunity to develop their business by creating and tracking leads, and creating tailored offers that will capture sales.