Insurers look to embrace social media
Insurers have traditionally been slower than other industries when it comes to establishing themselves on social media. Worries about breaking regulations mean that they have been wary about launching onto Twitter and Facebook. Backing this up, own 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that just one insurer out of the UK’s top 10 had clear links displayed to Twitter and Facebook pages.
However according to research from North America, things are about to change, with social media moving rapidly up the agenda. The survey, from Celent, found that 98% of insurers plan to increase their use of social media in 2013, with customer service the number one priority cited by the 114 respondents.
Explaining why they’d not embraced social before, insurers saw the biggest barriers to entry as legal, regulatory and compliance uncertainties. A third of companies had not created a social media strategy, adding to these risks. Other challenges, ranked in order, were lack of top management support; shortage of skills/know-how; and lack of link with company strategy.
Despite this 80% of North American insurers were using social media (well ahead of the UK). Nearly half (45%) of the remainder planned to implement it within the next year. Of those that have already deployed social media, 98% planned to increase its use either ‘somewhat’ or ‘significantly’.
There are issues flagged by the research. Customer service was seen as the primary opportunity to use social media, but few insurers were helping their agents to use the tools. Indeed, none of the companies rated their social media management tools as excellent, with the majority feeling it was too early to provide an opinion on their usefulness.
- Create a strategy – research the market and ask yourself a series of questions. Which social media networks are your customers using? How are you going to communicate with them? Which department will be responsible? Create a strategy and then gain buy-in from the complete business.
- Enforce a social media acceptable use policy. Whatever you decide to do with social media, make sure that everyone in your company understands what they can and can’t do on these channels – and the consequences of breaking the rules.
- Set aside the right resources. There is a tendency to think of social media as free, as it costs nothing to join Twitter and Facebook. But you need to invest in training staff, buying the right management tools and ensuring that your presence matches your corporate branding and guidelines.
- Integrate social media. Don’t create a separate social media team, as this simply builds an expensive, unscalable silo around the channel. Integrate it within your overall operations, for example with your existing customer service software so that you can ensure consistent, efficient operations.
- Publicise your efforts. Make sure your customers and prospects know that you are on social media – include Facebook pages and Twitter handles on your website and in customer communication so it is easy for them to find you.
There are risks involved in social media – but the opportunities for insurers to engage with customers, solve issues quickly and drive new sales mean it should be on everyone’s agenda in 2013.