Insurance Companies Score Online Customer Respect

The insurance industry is doing slightly better than other industries when it comes to respecting its online customers, according to a report from The Customer Respect Group. Their Q1 2005 “Online Customer Respect” study reports insurers have an overall Customer Respect Index (CRI) rating of 6.1, slightly above the overall industry average of 5.9.

The CRI measures both qualitative and quantitative aspects of a company’s online presence and includes attributes such as privacy, responsiveness and simplicity. For Life and Health insurers, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement garnered the top spot with a CRI of 7.1. For Property and Casualty insurers, The Progressive Corporation ranked number one with a CRI of 7.8.

Responsiveness to inquiries was noted as an area that improved in 2004. Only 19 percent of queries were left unanswered, down from 36 percent in Q3 2004. The overall average unanswered inquiries in 2004 was 26 percent among all industries surveyed by the Customer Research Group. For those that did respond to user inquiries, 30 percent of surveyed firms provided a response after two days; and 54 percent provided a response within one day (26 percent provided a response in 1 to 4 hours; 16 percent between one and two days; 14 percent between hours and one day; and 14 percent provided a response in less than an hour). Across all industries surveyed, inquiries were answered within one day by 67 percent of all companies.

In terms of acknowledging receipt of an inquiry, 81 percent of surveyed insurers utilize some form of rapid acknowledgement. Twenty-one percent use email autoresponders, and 60 percent provide online screen-based acknowledgment. Sixteen percent issued an acknowledgment within two hours, and only 3 percent didn’t acknowledge inquiries at all.

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Online user data privacy declined somewhat in 2004. Insurers shared user-submitted online data with an increased percentage of partners and third parties.

“The most surprising aspect of the study is that while the all-industry 2004 data sharing average was 24 percent (for business partners/third parties), and the insurance industry’s 2004 average was 34 percent, this year’s study revealed that rate inched even higher to 35 percent,” Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group told “In contrast, the financial services industry’s rate of sharing data declined from last year. Given consumers’ strong preference for companies not sharing data with outside firms, we were surprised to see the insurance industry’s lack of response to this issue.” ClickZ Graphic

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