Brokerage Ops the September 2022 issue

A Focus on Customer Centricity

Q&A with Dick Lavey, Executive Vice President, President of Agency Markets, The Hanover
Sponsored by The Hanover Posted on September 1, 2022

The Hanover’s Dick Lavey, executive vice president and president of agency markets, sat down with Leader’s Edge to dig in to what he considers the key components of a customer-centric operation as well as future industry principles to consider when it comes to the customer experience.

What do you see as the key components of a customer-centric operation?

The first thing I would say is to think holistically about the insurance life cycle and consider how to improve those customer experiences. It starts with a quoting and binding experience; then, once they decide to accept that quote, what does the onboarding experience look like? If a customer needs administration or claims servicing down the road, what does that engagement look like?

Secondly, you have to think about how you segment your customer base into different categories, because not all customers think alike and not all engage the same way. Solutions should be designed with more than one type of customer in mind.

The last thing I would say is, it’s important to have what I’ll call channel fluidity: being able to service a customer across different channels, whether it’s digitally, by phone, by text or by email.

One of the things you brought up was being able to engage via text. How can insurers and brokers alike balance that kind of real-time responsiveness while also ensuring accurate data?

Speed and accuracy can sometimes be at odds with each other. Validation of data sources is critical. We as carriers also need to work to make sure we integrate into our back-end systems so when things happen in the engagement model up front, whether we’re offering a customer a piece of information or whether they’re giving us some data, all information is captured and recorded for accuracy.

That integration piece is really important. That makes it seamless and brings speed to the front part of the process.

Self-service portals and similar tools can be useful. What can companies do to address that tension to ensure those tools remain useful and not overly burdensome or demanding?
The first is to pilot it and make sure that the experience is as intended. That’s a critical element. The other thing that’s important is to have an exit—giving the customer the ability to leave an online experience and find somebody to help them through it, whether that’s online help, a live person, or a callback feature.
It’s important to have what I’ll call channel fluidity: being able to service a customer across different channels, whether it’s digitally, by phone, by text or by email.
Dick Lavey, Executive Vice President, President of Agency Markets, The Hanover
Do brokers have a role in keeping that process painless?
Absolutely, brokers are the first line of defense. In many instances the first phone call might come to them or the first email inquiry might come to them, and they can direct that customer to an online self-service portal or a carrier call center. It’s critical that brokers are informed as to what servicing options are available and for them to have easy-to-access tools carriers have created so they can answer the question.
What challenges can come from digitizing parts of the insurance process?

We have to be careful we don’t water everything down to a basic level such that you lose the individual characteristics of a customer. If you oversimplify in the creation of your solution or you automate too much, you might lose the uniqueness of what the customer needs.

At The Hanover, we strive to insure full accounts, so we’re careful that we don’t build solutions that force that commoditization. We want our brokers to engage with clients to help them figure out what their true insurance needs are. If you throw too much automation in the process, you lose that human touch.

What do you see in the future for customer centricity?

The future is about service-channel fluidity. That is particularly appealing to many customers—that they have options for how to engage.

I also think the future is about simplification. Insurance is a complex product and service, and by design most people don’t understand it. It’s written that way because it’s a legal document, and it’s important to understand what’s covered and what’s not. But we can do better as an industry, using the principle of simplicity, at helping customers understand what their policies include.

The principle of transparency is also an important one for our industry—this notion of enabling customers of all types to understand where they are in the transactional process. Understanding what’s happening is very comforting and creates a better overall customer experience.

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