Insurers ‘struggling’ with social media

UK insurers are only responding to a third of questions asked on Twitter and by email, according to the findings of a new report.

The Multi-channel Customer Experience Study, carried out by software provider Eptica, evaluated the country’s 10 leading insurance firms. It replicated consumer behaviour by measuring the companies’ ability to provide answers to ten routine policy questions online, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to other channels such as email, Twitter and web chat.

The research revealed that the online performance of insurers was improving, but slowly. While 57 per cent of questions were answered online (up from 48 per cent in the previous year), this lagged behind other sectors, notably fashion retailers, who answered 79 per cent of questions asked via the web.

There was also a “widening gulf” between the best and worst performers – one insurance company successfully answered eight questions online, while another provided a relevant response to just three.

Half of the insurers were on Twitter, although just three responded successfully to tweeted questions, putting insurance in the bottom half of the cross-sector league table. The average response time was 37 minutes, with the fastest answering in 16 minutes.

Success rates through email remained static compared to last year, the study also showed. While 90 per cent of insurers offered the ability for non-customers to email them, only 70 per cent actually responded to a message, and just 30 per cent answered the question satisfactorily. The quickest reply came in 1 hour and 6 minutes, and the slowest took over five days.

At the time of the research no insurers offered web chat, although one has since introduced the service.

Commenting on the findings, Eptica’s CEO and co-founder Olivier Njamfa, said: “The insurance sector has been radically changed by the expansion of digital channels, with the majority of policies now researched or bought online, and consumer loyalty at an all-time low.

“However our study shows that the sector is struggling to deliver the channel choice that consumers demand – or the fast, accurate responses that they need during the buying process. With competition increasing, it will be those insurers that successfully deliver customer experience through a multi-channel strategy that will thrive and expand. It is therefore time for all insurers to benchmark their performance, and look at how they can better meet customer needs.”

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