The digital age gave birth to a new omni-channel world, in which people are "always on and connected." In this world, customers seldom consider what channel they're using. What they are really concerned about is being able to find the answers to their specific needs when they want, how they want. They also want to be in charge of their interactions across all channels.

Rising expectations for omni-channel experiences in the broader market are also creating new challenges and opportunities in the insurance landscape. Insurers must rethink the way they do business to create better customer journeys and offer consistent and engaging customer experiences across all touch-points.

So how can you use omni-channel to offer a strong customer journey?

1. Use a single integrated platform to drive consistent customer journeys

For customers, channels such as mobile apps, websites, chatbots, call centers and insurance agents are simply a way to communicate. They jump on the channel of choice and interact with their insurers. For example, they can chat with an agent to renew their earthquake insurance while making a claim on the application.

By blending different channels into a single experience, insurers can bridge the gap between customers and their teams and successfully manage a number of journeys across channels throughout the customer lifecycle. But if there are different back-end systems in place to manage different touch-points it is often very difficult to deliver smooth customer journeys.

The key is to focus on the customers' end-to-end experience instead of individual touchpoints and unify the Dynamics 365 CRM platform and omni-channel servicing capabilities. By orchestrating the various back-end systems, you can avoid broken customer experiences and deliver outstanding unified communications instead.

2. Offer rich channel coverage in low-touch insurance business

Insurers have long struggled with the customer interactions. On one hand, the customers expect high-touch, personalized services regardless of the industry. Insurance is no exception to this. But by its very nature, insurance remains a low-touch industry.

Most customers only want to interact with their insurers for potential and existing policies or for claims. Very often, they choose interacting with agents and brokers but they also want to be supported and helped when they need, at all hours of the day. Engage with them through the channels they prefer and in ways which are attuned to their specific situations. Microsoft Luis, Alexa, Siri, and other intelligent systems incorporating AI and machine learning can help.

For instance, insurers that are using AI-powered tools can now provide guidance for their customers through chatbots. According to a Gartner report, "AI bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020."

AI-powered chatbots provide intelligent human-like conversations through all digital channels. They enable insurers to deliver services to their "always-on" customers right at their fingertips with an instant chat feature that is available 24/7.

3. Make a good impression during the First Notification of Loss

Being involved in a car accident or having a burst pipe can be one of the most stressful and upsetting situations someone experiences. The last thing the customer wants in this situation is not being taken care of quickly and efficiently.

The clock starts when the customer initiates the claim. Speed, accuracy, and transparency in the claims process really are essential to increasing engagement and retention. If the insurer fails to have the claim record filed on time after the incident, it affects the entire customer journey, from validation to deployment of services. It also translates into poor customer experience and increased costs.

In these delicate times it's important to offer interactions through the channel of a customer's choice with the ability to change their channel throughout the process and receive status updates.

Millenial customers in particular prefer digital channels to interact with their insurers. Use existing channels such as WhatsApp, social media and mobile apps for claims and enrich the customer engagement. 

4. The customer should only have to tell their story once

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