Despite the need to overcome mounting competition and
diminishing consumer loyalty, the online customer experience
provided by UK insurers has deteriorated over the last year,
with less than half (48%) of basic online questions answered
satisfactorily, according to a new study released today.
As well as failing to answer questions asked online or sent
via email, insurers are still ignoring the social media channel,
according to the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study.
The research found that the online performance of insurers is
worsening -- with the number of questions answered online
dropping by 2% from 50% in the previous year. Insurers responded
successfully to just 30% of emails.
The research, carried out by multi-channel customer interaction
management software provider Eptica, evaluated 10 insurers
active in the motor, life, travel, pet and household sectors.
They were tested on their ability to provide answers to 10
routine questions via the web as well as their speed and
accuracy when responding to enquiries sent via email, and links
to social media.
UK insurers face pressing challenges. The rise of the internet
and price comparison sites have slashed margins, competition is
growing, customer loyalty is at an all time low and claim costs
and regulation are both increasing. Hampered by legacy systems
and paper-intensive, manual processes, many insurers are
struggling to adapt to this new, multi-channel,
customer-centric, low margin world.
Moving to cheaper channels such as email is key to increasing
efficiency while improving choice for customers. But while
insurers recognise this, there are still issues with providing
timely responses that actually answer customer questions. 80% of
insurers provided email contact details, but only 60% responded
to messages, and just 30% of the replies actually answered the
question that was asked. This seems to show a haphazard
approach, rather than having a well-planned, efficient process
Poor email performance continued when it came to response times.
On average it took insurers 30 hours, 6 minutes to answer
emails, double the 14 hours of previous research. The study
uncovered huge differences in performance -- one insurer took
over 2 days (49 hours) to reply to an email -- although another
responded in just 1 hour 18 minutes, delivering a real
There was a growing gap between best and worst when it came to
online customer service. The two highest scoring insurers
answered 7 out of 10 questions asked on their websites, while
the lowest score was just 2 out of 10. With over 80% of
consumers researching insurance online and loyalty
at an all time low failing to provide basic information online
will simply drive customers to competitors.
"The insurance industry is at a critical juncture, faced by
diminishing margins, rising costs and vanishing customer
loyalty," said Dee Roche, VP, Global Marketing, Eptica.
"Efficiently providing a superior customer experience across
multiple channels is at the heart of succeeding in such a
difficult market. However our research found that overall
performance has got worse over the last 12 months, and that
there is an increasing chasm between best and worst. Given the
competitive pressures facing insurers they need to look at where
they can improve their processes to increase customer retention
and improve efficiency."
Social media is now a growing channel for customer service --
but insurers are still wary of Facebook and Twitter. The study
found that social media use has increased dramatically -- 50% of
insurers now provide links to their Twitter accounts and 30%
have Facebook pages (up from 10% on both networks in 2011).
However this lags behind other sectors. Overall 70% of the 100
companies surveyed in the Eptica study had Twitter links and 64%
have Facebook pages.
Customer Experience Study Infographic
Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study methodology
As part of the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study 10
insurance company websites across the motor, life, travel, pet
and household sectors were evaluated in three areas in H2 2012:
1. For their ability to answer ten basic, sector-specific
questions via their website. These included:
Does my car insurance cover me to drive in Europe?
Do you offer a loyalty discount if I take out multiple
Are my personal possessions covered outside the home?
That is your cancellation policy?
2. On the speed and accuracy of their response via their email
3. How they integrated links to sites such as Facebook, Twitter
and forums into their overall customer service strategy.
As well as insurers, the Study surveyed websites across the
retail, travel, consumer electronics manufacturers, utilities,
telecoms and banking sectors. The full Eptica Multichannel
Customer Experience Study report can be downloaded from