Discover the critical functions and best practices that result in winning app experiences.
Today’s consumers increasingly rely on mobile apps for regular engagement with the brands they value. From banking and online shopping to grocery delivery, consumers expect companies to deliver seamless in-app experiences — and this trend has only accelerated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most major insurance companies today offer a mobile app, few are using digital in new ways to drive growth and engagement, according to a recent J.D. Power study. This lack of a mobile strategy goes beyond a lackluster customer experience. It presents a missed opportunity for long-term customer loyalty and greater potential revenue.
So how do you know when your app isn’t delivering value for your customers? And what changes do you need to make to improve on it?
Knowing when you’ve missed the mark
Often, it comes down to building process-centric rather than customer-centric apps. By thinking about apps as tools that extend internal processes — instead of looking at them as a channel through which a customer can engage — companies end up building a mobile experience that is more cumbersome than helpful. For instance, apps with too many forms or too much copy and not enough imagery can confuse customers.
Additionally, a nonintuitive architecture for presenting information (too many click-throughs, imprecise language, etc.) can make apps difficult for customers to navigate. When it takes too long for a user to get where they want and need to be, customers will abandon using the app altogether.
Creating a better app
Apps should be action-driven, quickly leading the customer to what they are there to accomplish. Are they there to check their coverage? Do they want to request roadside assistance? Do they need to submit a claim? A straightforward, easy-to-use app helps customers with their requests without the need to bring in a human agent. By allowing customers to self-serve — i.e., either initiate or complete an action entirely independently — you automate backend processes and enable more digital intake, leading to lower costs and a better customer experience.
To build a better app, it’s important to start by building features that customers want and will use. This requires mapping the customer journey to understand which tools and actions customers want from an app and in which order they want them. This will enable you to determine which features to introduce and gauge their potential usage. Some key features may include:
Easily accessible policy information. An “account information” or “policy information” feature can go a long way in helping customers quickly learn about their insurance contracts, policy and coverage areas as well as access their insurance ID cards. This last item is particularly important. Providing these cards is a legal requirement (to evidence insurance coverage), so making a readily accessible digital version is an obvious need. Yet, accessing these cards can be difficult (or impossible) on many apps.
Payments. Consumers have become accustomed to paying for goods and services directly from their mobile devices. Relegating bill pay function to online, phone and via mail will only frustrate customers, so making billing statements, upcoming due dates and payments accessible via the mobile app is incredibly important. The ability to save credit or debit card information should also be considered, eliminating the need for customers to input information time and time again.
Claims processing. With a “submit a claim” style feature, customers can easily upload all necessary information and photos following an accident without calling an agent. Providing the customer with the ability to then track their claim status is also beneficial as it helps streamline the entire process.
Auto repair shop locations. Another feature that will elevate your mobile app is one that helps customers find nearby, reputable mechanics or collision repair facilities. By anticipating customer needs, you can significantly reduce their anxiety following an accident.
Roadside assistance. With roadside assistance integrations, customers can request a tow or other services without having to call an agent. With their vehicle information already in the app, customers can request assistance with just a click of a button based on their GPS location and get real-time ETAs and notifications with tracking of the tow truck.
Membership benefits. There’s no question a mobile app can be used to pivot from delivering just core protection products to “membership” benefits that improve your policyholder relationship and keep you top of mind throughout the everyday vehicle ownership experience. This could include perks such as access to discounts for vehicle repair and maintenance, food and travel discounts, car part promotions (tires, batteries, etc.), mechanic hotline/support and more.
Once you identify the right features to include in your mobile app, your job is still far from done. Apps need regular attention and maintenance. It’s crucial to continue to improve on features and design to ensure they are meeting current needs and anticipating future ones. This means both introducing new features to fulfill emerging needs and retiring old ones that have low usage. Every capability in the app should serve a specific, helpful and useful purpose.
Creating awareness of the app and its features with customers is critical in building engagement. While this may seem obvious, you may not be utilizing all the available channels to market your app. Directions to “download our app” should be prominently displayed on your website and included in all email communications to customers.
In addition, the app should be introduced to new customers when they sign up and mentioned during all customer service calls. If you want to be a truly digital-first company, then you should urge your customers to use the mobile app before calling an agent. The app and its capabilities should also be featured in advertising.
A mobile app is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s an important part of an insurance company’s overall digital strategy and those that don’t employ one put their business at risk.
The key takeaways for developing a strong mobile strategy are:
Focus on the customer (not the process) when it comes to design and features.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Continually adjust and improve your app to match changing customer needs.
Make your app a tool your policyholders can’t live without.
With these tactics in mind, you’ll no longer be just another insurance company with an empty, little-used app, but a true digital-first leader that’s meeting customers where they want to be and delivering what they didn’t even know they needed.
Chetan is furthering Agero’s strategic direction within our Insurance and Automotive Roadside, Accident Management, and Repair Advantage lines of business, creating an organizational structure that empowers his team in service to our clients and their customers. Working closely with Agero’s product, marketing, client solutions and operations groups, while leaning heavily on his nearly 30 years of experience transforming product offerings and leading large teams, Chetan focuses his team on driving innovation to develop and deliver exceptional digital roadside assistance and accident support experiences for consumers, identifying opportunities to grow and strengthen policyholder loyalty and engagement.