06 Apr 2020 By: Jessica Wise
The coronavirus is hitting the U.S. like a ton of bricks.
Lysol wipes and spray are virtually extinct. Ground beef and chicken breast are hot commodities. And, you better get to the store early or you definitely aren’t getting any toilet paper.
The harsh reality is that those aren’t even the biggest problems we are facing.
The economy is in a death spiral. Americans are losing their jobs and unable to feed their families.
Even worse, people are sick and dying, and there aren’t enough medical supplies to go around.
Sadly, the aftermath of the pandemic could also leave the nation’s key agencies and businesses in dire straits.
The insurance industry is one sector that is wildly unprepared for the aftershock in the crisis that is the COVID-19 Tsunami.
According to insurance industry expert, Gary Shaw, “insurers are being challenged to review and update their crisis management plans and take steps to continue operations with a minimum of disruption to clients.” (Deloitte)
“…Insurers are being challenged to review and update their crisis management plans and take steps to continue operations with a minimum of disruption to clients.”
– Gary Shaw, Insurance Industry Expert
However, with hundreds of thousands of people potentially falling ill or even dying, the number of claims will likely overwhelm the healthcare, life, unemployment and business insurance sectors.
Here’s how your insurance agency can prepare to best manage the overload of insurance claims that are already beginning to pour in.
Call On Your Retired Industry Veterans
As the number of insurance claims ramp up, extra sets of experienced hands are needed.
For instance, in the unemployment insurance sector, many states are buckling under the pressure of a rapid influx of unemployment claims.
Millions are filing for assistance, and the workload is more than existing agents can handle.
“This is an unprecedented surge of claims,” says, Loree Levy, Public Affairs Deputy Director for the Employment Development Department (EDD).
In California, the EDD is “repositioning workers, trying to get experienced hands out of retirement” (FOX40).
The California Employment Development Department processed 186,809 claims for unemployment benefits last week, up from 57,606 the week before https://t.co/uTi5HjHukV
— KTLA (@KTLA) March 27, 2020
So, follow their lead and call on retired industry veterans to help your team manage the workload. Many retirees are more willing than you think.
In fact, 60% of older college graduates who had retired said they would be interested in returning to the workforce for the right job. (NYTimes)60% of older college graduates who had retired said they would be interested in returning to the workforce for the right job. @nytimes Click To Tweet
Better yet, most veterans won’t even have to leave their house to re-join the team. Many agencies are now closed to the public, and a large percentage of insurance agents are now working from home to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Release Regular Statements and Updates
During uncertain times, it’s important to keep your customers in the loop.
Not only will consistent communications make them feel more secure, but it will also strengthen their connection with your brand.
55% of consumers fall in love with a brand when that brand offers “easy access to information and support.” (GrooveHQ)55% of consumers fall in love with a brand when that brand offers easy access to information and support. @GrooverHQ Click To Tweet
So, let them know what to expect by providing regular updates via email and social media.
In addition, place a statement on your website that outlines your revised plan for conducting business during the pandemic.
Larger agencies like Nationwide and Farmers have already taken the initiative to do so.
If you are experiencing an overload of insurance claims, remember that it’s best to be upfront.
For example, if your claims processing and payouts are being completed at a slower pace than normal, let your clients know.
They will appreciate your honesty.
Keep Your Overload of Insurance Claims Organized
Even under normal circumstances, many insurance agents struggle to work efficiently when they don’t have access to the proper organizational tools.
In fact, 42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces, and multiple applications. (GrooveHQ)
So, there’s no time like the present to invest in Help Desk and Email Ticket Management software.
If you’re short staffed and experiencing an overload of insurance claims, you will want your agency’s files and communications to be as organized as possible.
With help desk and ticket management software, your customer requests will automatically be grouped into one streamlined conversation complete with a unique ID, dynamic status, and full communication history.
Use Live Chat to Communicate Safely and Easily
As we all adapt to the rules of social distancing, it’s never a bad idea to have additional ways for your clients to communicate with you remotely.
Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies. (Aberdeen Group Inc)Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. @aberdeengroup Click To Tweet
In addition, adding live chat support to your website is one of the safest and easiest ways to interact with your clients during this time.
Plus, it’s much faster than email and phone support. The average wait time for live chat support is 46 seconds. (Comm100)
Not only that, 73% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. (Forrester)
With live chat, you’ll be able to serve them more quickly, and they’ll feel more satisfied with their experience.
Get Extra Help Without Having to Hire Additional Staff
As the economy grows increasingly unstable, many agencies have reservations about hiring additional staff to assist with an overload of insurance claims.
However, there are ways your team can get additional help without the expense and liability of hiring on new employees.
24/7 live chat agent services are up to 50x cheaper than hiring a full-time employee, but will learn the ins and outs of your business, while offering the support of a full-service, live chat customer service team.
About 1 in 3 people say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable, friendly agent. (Microsoft)1 in 3 people say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent. @Microsoft Click To Tweet
With professionally trained live chat agents, your customers’ satisfaction is virtually a guarantee. It will be just as if they are speaking with a seasoned veteran from your staff.
In addition, 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. (GrooveHQ)
By hiring a live chat agent service, your customers won’t have to wait and they’ll still receive the highest level of service.
The Bottom Line
It’s understandable if your staff is feeling overwhelmed. The entire world is feeling overwhelmed (including each and every one of your customers).
In fact, there’s a good chance that your clients will be more patient and understanding considering the circumstances.
However, unprecedented times do call for unprecedented measures.
So, if your agency is experiencing an overload of insurance claims due to COVID-19, try these solutions.
Your agents and your customers will thank you for it.