Reclaiming Automated Calls
Email spam first became a serious problem about 20 years ago, and junk mail had been an annoyance for years before that. Now, unscrupulous operators have hijacked yet another platform, this time flooding mobile phone networks with billions of robocalls that make people reluctant to answer their phones.
According to the FCC, almost half of the calls Americans receive on cell phones this year will be unwanted robocalls.
Not only are robocalls annoying. When done right, automated calls are welcomed by consumers and can achieve listener-ship rates exceeding 90%. But automated calls are getting a bad rap due to robocalls. That’s why it’s time for businesses, including insurance companies and agencies, to reclaim automated calls from spammers.
Robocalls aren’t going to go away on their own. Combating them will likely take regulatory action and businesses standing up to reclaim the medium. Without intervention, the problem will get worse. Robocall-blocking software firm predicts the number of robocalls made this year will exceed the nearly 48 billion made last year — by a whopping 57%, according to CNN.
Consumers are subject to increasingly sophisticated ploys to lure them into answering spam robocalls — including “neighbor spoofing.”
It’s also bad news for insurance businesses that want to engage customers via automated calls for legitimate purposes.
But there’s a huge difference between automated calls and robocalls. Here are a few ways insurers use automated calling:
- Appointment reminders: A reminder of an upcoming appointment with an insurance adjuster or agent can be a welcome service for busy people, who can use a touch-tone option to either confirm the appointment or connect to reschedule the visit. Automated reminder calls work well for businesses too because it’s less expensive than no-shows or assigning live calls to staff.
- Policy and claim status updates: Obtaining a policy or getting an insurance claim paid often involves third parties, and when things go wrong, it can damage the company’s relationship with the policyholder. An automated call can keep customers in the loop, informing them along the way and managing expectations at each step of the journey, from policy confirmation to claim payment.
- Emergency alerts: When dangers like a weather event threaten, emergency alerts can give customers a heads-up, protecting the customer and the insurer’s financial interests. Messages can include tips on preparing for a storm, reminders about documentation or claim submission processes and more. Alerts also signal that the company is looking out for customers.
These are just a few examples — automated calls can be used for good in a number of other ways, like conducting customer satisfaction surveys, enabling continuous service improvement or improving retention by alerting delinquent policyholders of a pending lapse date and warning them of the impact a lapsed policy could have on future insurance rates. Automated calls can help insurers reach customers in a timely, affordable way with messaging that is consistent and on-brand. The problem isn’t automated calls — it’s unwelcome robocalls.
So, how can companies fight back? It’s simple: Respect customer preferences and provide valuable information. The examples above are just a few ways insurers can provide information customers want or need, and when businesses consistently deliver valuable messages in a highly personalized and emotionally relevant manner, they can achieve listener-ship rates that average 93%. Even better, regular communication from a company’s main number increases the likelihood of being added to a customer’s address book, ensuring you’re differentiated from unwelcome calls moving forward.
Like email spam and junk mail before them, robocalls are a scourge. They use an indispensable communication platform to harass consumers with unwanted contact. But it’s important to keep in mind that automated calls can be a helpful and welcome customer communication tool. That’s why it’s time to reclaim automated calling from unscrupulous robocall spammers. Let’s make a medium that works for everyone.