Staying connected with customers during tough times: Insurance CIOs

Insurance CIOs discuss the role social media, online and collaboration tools had during the Queensland floods and Melbourne hail storm

Insurance companies have looked to social media, online and collaboration tools to help them stay connected with customers, according to chief information officers who discussed this at a recent CSC Connect event in Sydney.

Zurich Australia CIO Scott Watters said collaboration tools were important when trying to keep in contact with customers who were experiencing the devastation of the Queensland floods.

“We were watching TV and we saw a house just float out the river and the letter box was still attached to it so we thought, ‘How are we going to contact that customer?’” Watters said.

“That’s when the collaboration actually took place. There was very good use of SMS and all those collaboration tools to get in touch with those people to make sure we could give them money [so that they could] get the services they wanted.”

Allianz Australia CIO, Steve Coles, said that during the hail storm that hit Melbourne on Christmas Day, customers using its online claims lodgement services helped ease the pressure.

“We had significantly more claims logged through the internet on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the day following than we did have people phone us up,” Coles said.

“What did that mean from a business and a customer perspective? It meant that we were able to identify the customer, identify the risk and initiate the action of recovery for that customer far quicker than we would have been able to do normally and we hear far quicker than some of our competitors were able to do.”

Coles said that social media gives customers and their insurers a way to engage more with each another.

“I think social media is a two-way stream now, it’s a bilateral discussion," Coles said. "I think this is a great opportunity for the insurance companies to continually reach out to those people that they have already communicated with and those people who are communicating with them."

Maintaining customers’ trust is also important, Coles said. “[O]nce that trust is created it’s up to the insurance companies to then maintain it, and they have got the facilities to do it — there’s the opportunity [for companies] to run that bilateral two-way communication to keep their customers connected to their business.”

In January, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) released a report that analysed the use of social media during the Queensland floods and found that more than 35,000 tweets used the hashtag #qldfloods during 10-16 January 2011.

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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