Generally, the insurance industry is given a bad reputation about how customers are commonly treated. From a legislative perspective we have seen how the Policyholder Protection Rule has evolved over the years and how South Africa, like so many other jurisdictions in the world, applies the Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) principles.

However, the stark reality is that customer experience is a threat not to only to the insurance industry but to any other service industry in general.

A more personal service

Brand awareness and association is important. However, all clients today are very cost astute and are looking for value for money for every cent spent on a service or product. It takes ages to onboard a client, but it takes only seconds to lose them.

Personalised customer experience, which you will understand through either physical interaction or with data gathered, will allow you to give a more personal service.

The perfect example is in the Outsurance adverts where the policyholder talks about how the call agent placed her at ease and even had a chat about her family. This illustrates that the call centre, yes although incentivised to make a sale, also took the opportunity to get to know the policyholder. The result was a "switch and save" by the policyholder.

A combination of components

Once you entrench the client you are then able to cross-sell more products within the financial opportunity and this is the value in customer retention.

Revolutionising the customer experience does not have to be over the top, it requires personalised physical/interactive interaction and compatible IT systems of an organisation. If you are dealing with a millennial who requires instant gratification, for example, don't think that he will be impressed with you faxing through a copy of his policy schedule. Likewise, if you are dealing with a baby boomer, they get irritated if they are asked to go to the "app" to view the policy schedule. The customer experience needs to be integrated between the product, the marketing of the product, the delivery of the product and the use of the product. All these principles are contained in TCF.

So, if everyone embraced these principles logically, positive customer experience would increase. Of course, customer experience is enhanced when all these components are flexible and there is ease of use.

Learning from other service industries is also important to improve your own customer service delivery. According to the Baymard Institute the average shopping cart abandonment rate is currently 68.63%. This high rate exists where merchandisers do not have a strategy for the "abandoned cart situation". Those that identify with their customers and try to pull them pack in make a sale. Netflorist is excellent in this way where they give you free delivery to complete the transaction.

Understand the needs of your clients

I am not advocating free insurance or free intermediary services, what I am saying is that if you want to maintain your client relationship you cannot be complacent; you need to understand what the needs of your client are. This is what develops some form of loyalty.

The same is even true of companies using chatbots. If you do not know your clients, how do you use this type of artificial intelligence to your advantage? There is nothing more irritating than a chat box popping up and you ask the bot a question and it does not even give a reasonable answer or, alternatively, gives you an answer you could find on the FAQs, which in any event are not very helpful at all.

Artificial intelligence and IT should be used as resources to enhance the customer experience. This will be achieved by gathering data. However, that does not mean people are not needed. As humans, we still need human interaction and it is this human interaction that is the most advantageous to keeping a happy client.