Insurance businesses are experiencing wildly varying effects from the COVID-19 crisis. Depending on the type of coverage they provide, they may be experiencing dramatically increasing or decreasing claims, policy changes, and inquiries. The insurance industry has a vital role to play during this or any crisis — to protect individuals and businesses from risk and loss during an already difficult time.
As shelter-in-place orders spread across the country, people are traveling significantly less. One Phoenix news station found that car accidents in the city have dropped by 75% in the two weeks since they had a shelter in place order. However, analyst firm PWC says in a report on the insurance industry during the COVID-19 crisis that, overall, “…claims will almost certainly rise. Companies that provide travel, short-term disability, business interruption and other specialty lines of insurance are likely to face mounting claims.”
This rapidly-changing environment means big impacts on the marketing and call center operations for insurance companies, too. PWC’s advice to insurance marketing and communications professionals is poignant: “This is why it makes sense to go back to first principles: what is your company’s purpose? …Communications, both internal and external, matter now more than ever. The ways your company responds to a stressful event can shape employee and public attitudes far into the future and be a defining moment for your corporate culture. Define how you’ll stand up for customers. Look for ways to show compassionate, decisive value to insureds and society to bolster long-term loyalty and impact, particularly by demonstrating your speed, flexibility and technical expertise.”
This week, we spoke with our customers at a Fortune 500 insurance company that is demonstrating this flexibility, customer focus, and technical adaptability in their response to the crisis.
Rapidly Adapting Call Center Operations
In order to continue serving customers and protect employees, many insurance companies are shifting call center operations to a remote model. The insurer we spoke with was able to shift all their call center employees to remote work in just two days. They emphasized that having an established disaster plan is critical to making this possible. “We had plans in place for dealing with hurricanes, so we knew how to handle this transition when it hit,” they said.
They were also able to use Invoca to quickly change messaging on their IVR to give customers information and direct calls to the proper agents. “Invoca gives us the ability to be flexible and point calls from one center to another and turn on a dime.”
Insurance Industry Call Volume Trends
Invoca industry call volume data shows that our non-healthcare insurance customers saw a 19% drop in overall call volume during the last week of March, while health insurance providers have surprisingly seen a 14% decrease in calls. This data is based on a comparison of weekly call volume before the pandemic began in North America (1/5/20 to 2/15/20) to weekly call volume after 3/1/20.
The insurer that we spoke with provides both medicare supplement and life insurance, and they have seen a substantial uptick in call volume. This means that maintaining and fine-tuning their call center operations for this crisis is especially important.
This insurer had an additional incident to deal with that contributed to their call volume increase, as the local government announced that they had completely closed, when its physical office was just closed and they were transitioning to work from home. “To address this, we created a signal in Invoca to look for callers who were concerned that we had shut down completely to address that announcement,” they said.
Gathering Data to Adapt Marketing in Real Time
Like many insurers, the one we spoke with drives business through brokers and agents. Many of these customer interactions with agents are face-to-face meetings. “We’re going to see a drop in face-to-face meetings during this crisis,” they said. “We’re looking at paid search CPC (cost-per-click) as a barometer, and we have seen an initial drop for sure.” They are looking at how they can use digital interactions to serve customers while being sensitive to the current crisis environment. “Invoca gives us a good rolling view of what’s going on to help us do this.”
Like all industries, adaptability, speed, and customer focus is critical for the insurance industry during this crisis. Keep an eye on the Invoca blog over the coming weeks for more industry insights about how marketers are handling the COVID-19 crisis and serving their customers. If you are a current Invoca customer who would like to participate in a group discussion, please contact us here.
Stay home and stay healthy, everyone.