What is it? Why is it costly? How should we avoid it? Why should we avoid it?
Channel hopping is a phenomenon common to the insurance world that is defined by the behavior of customers, claimants, or anyone else contacting a carrier, starting their interactions within one channel (e.g. SMS, email, phone, or a portal), and then leaving that channel, to “hop” into another channel mid-completion.
Why do customers channel hop? Because they discover their needs cannot be met within the path where they started the conversation. Research confirms that all too often, customers do not get their inquiry resolved within a single conversation. So they abandon one channel, and begin their service journey all over again through another path, or multiple.
Let’s think about it from the perspective of a claim payment status example. In the channel hopping scenario, our customer might call into their insurance company’s contact center. If the service representative could not quickly retrieve that information, or worse, the customer was holding in a call queue, they may abandon that channel. And then they have to begin their quest all over again, perhaps this time by sending an email to their claims adjuster. In the customer’s eyes, this was a quick question that should have been easy to answer immediately.
Why is it costly?
Channel hopping is a costly problem for both the policyholder and insurance carrier. When a member can’t update their information, like add a driver to their policy on their first attempt, the burden is placed on them to follow up and follow through, including seeking a more reliable channel and beginning their conversation all over again. Consider sometimes this is an emotion-laden experience already, perhaps following an injury, and that’s before the friction added to the experience by the insurance company not having a way to resume the conversation where it left off, nor an easy way for them to self-report their claim.
The cost of the customer journey grows with the number of channels the customer has to consume from. The 2021 Gartner Customer Service Behavior and Expectations survey showed that there’s a 300% difference between a customer experience journey traversing 4 channels as compared to 1. It also estimates that only 9% of customers have had an adequate enough experience on a self-service channel that they don’t feel they have to channel hop.
That added friction is also costly in terms of time and customer experience, affecting customer satisfaction. Policyholders are more likely to shop for other plans when they’re frustrated with their own customer experience. It’s also expensive for insurance companies who have to manage duplicate support requests, as the same customer inquiry is moving through multiple, separate channels.
Keep in mind that insurers are under extreme pressure to mitigate the effect of their operating costs on their bottom line. Other industries have much more successfully reduced their unit costs, and insurance hasn’t kept up.
How should insurers avoid channel hopping?
Channel hopping is costly to both the insurance carrier and the policyholder, so the question remains – how can you avoid channel hopping? It’s important to build and design self-service channels where your customers can resolve their journeys without needing to channel hop, and those experiences are those that are built with empathy and well tested.
Customer Experience Automation™ (CXA) feels like a tremendous burden to start doing and do perfectly the first time, but the reality is that testing and experimentation are the best path to successfully meeting your customers’ demands in their experience. First, you need to build experiments around your customer automation flows with criterion for success and failure. Second, you need to provide an architecture for rapid experimentation and easy collaboration between your business users. Third, you should be able to build an experience once, and deploy it to any channel. Finally, you should walk a mile in the shoes of the consumer with your own customer experience automation flows and empathy-test each trial.
Ushur’s CXA platform is the only enterprise Customer Experience Automation™ platform that lets business users act as the owners to build and deploy these customer experience workflows without any help needed from their IT partners. The Ushur platform lets business users build end-to-end automation flows that are integrated with backend systems, but also makes it easy to wrap those automation steps in a secure and mobile-friendly interface. By enabling business users to drive those mobile-first experiences and manage the experimentation lifecycle of the automation flows, Ushur makes it simple to successfully optimize the customer journey and prevent the frustrating process of customers hopping between phone, email, forums, and chats.
The rapid experimentation that the Ushur platform affords is fundamentally tied to both the proprietary Invisible App™ and the unique combination of machine learning (ML) capabilities Ushur makes easy-usable by business users. By deploying your customer experience automation workflow – the steps you need your customers to execute to successfully resolve their interaction with your company – with an Invisible App™, regardless of which channel they begin their journey on, they’ll have a unified experience wherever they pick up. The industry-specific machine learning models Ushur exposes to business users also make those conversations natural and intuitive so there’s no need to switch channels in the first place.
Why should insurers avoid channel hopping?
Automation is only a portion of the broader digital transformation all carriers need to go through to satiate customer desire for instant gratification, and channel hopping gets in the way of that. A 2020 Deloitte survey showed 46% of companies in the insurance industry are still in the stage where they are either planning to or have no plans to implement digital capabilities. The 54% who are ahead of the curve and already implementing the kind of digital expertise consumers demand of modern business have a serious leg up on their counterparts, and will be less likely to frustrate their customers as their preferences for digital offerings expand.
If you’re concerned about your customers coming to you for a question or concern and not being able to resolve their problems in a single interaction, let us know! We’d love to talk to you about best practices for modernizing customer experiences.