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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Virtual Connections: Communicating in a Digital World

From personalization to automation, agents are inundated with demands from prospects and clients who expect a range of mobile and digital capabilities. Finding ways to stay connected while improving customers' experience is key to success in a digital world.

Even more now agencies, businesses and organizations have felt the need to transform the customer experience through the use of digital communication platforms. Discover how to enhance your virtual communications strategy to meet today's customer and business needs.

A person using their smartphone's apps

Personalized Communication

Customers and prospects expect personalized service, both in-person and online. According to MIT Sloan Management Review, buyers have grown accustomed to personalization thanks to the popularity of algorithm-based services such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify, all of which use machine learning to cater to individuals' preferences.

But how can an agency deliver personalized virtual services? Start by moving beyond basic, "cookie cutter" correspondence. Personalized communications follow clients though each step of the customer journey — from new business to underwriting, claims to customer service.

Communications should deliver information that's timely, relevant and valuable at the customer's particular phase of the journey. Segmentation helps facilitate personalization; for instance, if a customer prefers to communicate in Spanish, an agent can accommodate this preference during in-person interactions.

However, follow-up communications may default to English, despite the availability of multilingual resources. In this example, personalization means that digital communications are available in the customer's preferred language. This type of customer-centric approach helps build loyalty to your brand.

Cross-Channel Communication

When it comes to communication in the digital age, one thing is for certain: Customers want to be in the driver's seat. They want to choose the channel they use to communicate with an agency, and that means both how and when they interact.

From mobile interfaces to email to online chat to forums, your customers have a range of options at their fingertips ... and they're taking advantage of them all! In fact, a study from Salesforce found that, on average, a customer uses 10 different channels to communicate with businesses, including:

  1. Email
  2. Phone calls
  3. In-person visits
  4. Social media
  5. Online forms
  6. Knowledge bases (aka FAQs)
  7. Customer portals
  8. Text or SMS messaging
  9. Messenger app
  10. Online chat or live support
  11. Mobile apps
  12. Discussion forum or online communities
  13. Voice-activated personal assistants
In contrast, most businesses only use nine of these channels.

It's obvious that customers are ahead of businesses in the digital communications realm. But it's not enough for agencies to play catch-up; using these tools in sync is key to optimizing your digital communications strategy.

Consider how much data all these virtual tools collect about each customer. It's great to have this insight; however, if it isn't all in one easily accessible place, those data points aren't worth much. Ensure that data is gathered and stored holistically, so agents can see a complete picture for each customer and integrate their preferences into interactions, both virtual and in real life.

Keeping Up with Your Customers

Utilizing digital tools helps you track your customers' journey and avoid a common pitfall: Making customers re-explain where they are and what they need. When a customer has to repeat themselves over and over, they get frustrated. Worse, they end up feeling like your agency doesn't care about them.

Agents also benefit from centralized customer information that lives in one convenient (virtual) place so it's always at their fingertips. A holistic approach facilitates better customer service, whether in-person or online, and has the additional benefit of improving productivity.

Take the time to streamline your digital tools to ensure they're working together, rather than competing. It's an investment that can help boost your customers' experience, build brand loyalty and help your agents do their job more effectively.

Boosting your agency's communication by adopting today's technology doesn't just lead to a better experience for your customers. It can benefit your business, too.

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