COVID-19 has highlighted the absolute necessity of digital capabilities for insurers, but we’ve found that it’s still not wise to neglect other channels and a cross-channel content strategy (omnichannel) is necessary. Sapiens conducted a survey, along with our partner, Lightico, of more than 1,000 consumers to determine how COVID-19 has impacted their lives.

Approximately 90% prefer digital/remote interactions with their insurance provider, as opposed to to face-to-face communication. Again, digital is huge, but it’s important to note that phone calls were included in this 90% – constituting 23% of all respondents. Also, as margins tighten and the market becomes even more competitive, no insurer can afford to give up on the non-digital 10%.

Digital was already crucial and it’s becoming even more so, but omnichannel still looms large. In its report from 2019, Five Tech Trends that will Define the Future of Insurance, EY Global noted: “Omnichannel distribution is crucial to improving both the quality and frequency of customer interactions.”

Carriers need to be where their customers are at all times. Currently there is a huge emphasis on digital, and this will be the dominant channel going forward, but COVID-19 won’t last forever and very few providers are ready for a 100% digital approach.

Omnichannel is important because today’s savvy and impatient customers require three things: they want: immediate recognition, exceptional service anytime/anywhere and a quick and easy experience. This is only possible via an omnichannel approach. As noted above, people have different preferences. Some customers prefer calling an agent, others want to use self-service, etc. Irrespective of channel or device, existing customers demand that you’ll immediately know who they are and even why they might be contacting you. This includes knowing the customer’s history, preferences and location.

This obviously isn’t enough – even more important is instantly helping the customer. If a customer first calls an agent but later decides on a face-to-face visit, she obviously will be annoyed if she has to start again from square one. Insurers must be able to seamlessly service customers during any stage of their journey, by providing them with the requested information, changing their plan, offering a discount, etc.

And all of this must happen quickly and simply. No one is interested in hearing about your technical difficulties when attempting to provide a seamless experience. Every time a customer engages with you, regardless of channel, they are comparing your organization to their last great customer experience from giants such as Netflix or Amazon.

Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be. Technology is important – a robust policy administration system and pre-integrated digital suite will heal your pain-points and bridge the omnichannel gaps. But the process doesn’t end once you implement a workflow – it’s crucial to understand how your customers are enjoying their omnichannel experiences and then to ensure continuous improvement. Take one step at a time when finding areas of improvement and customer satisfaction scores will begin to climb, because omnichannel is alive and necessary.