- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Customer Service Bar Raised: Social Media Increases Information Flow In Disasters

Social media are showing their value in helping respond to disasters, and some insurers are taking note.

Writing on Forbes direct marketing network, Don Ball provides personal insight in his experiences with the Washington earthquake and Hurricane Irene.  When the earthquake hit, ball notes, “Like many on the East Coast, I did not immediately think earthquake when I heard rumbling and felt the shaking. Instead, I feared that an explosion had occurred in our nation’s capital. I needed accurate information fast; however, the phone companies could not handle the bandwidth increase, and the broadcast news outlets had a time lag.”

Ball reports that the channel that did respond was social media “Almost immediately, trending Twitter feeds were reporting ‘5.8’and ‘earthquake.’ And then came the Facebook messages and images posted by family and friends. I immediately felt relief, knowing that I did not have to evacuate, stockpile water, wear a mask and track down family.”

Shortly there after, Ball experienced Hurricane Irene coming up the East cost.  Like many others, he discovered a unique map offered by the GIS vendor, esri, which supplied mash up of first hand information from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other sources along the path of the storm.

Ball concludes, “While businesses debate the utility and relevance of social media, it has become clearer to me based on my experience last week that this vehicle offers a super-condensed ‘occurrence’ to reporting time frame of humanly relevant information that I need.

Deb Smallwood, Founder of SMA-Strategy Meets Action, comments on this in her most recent newsletter.  “Leading insurers have been taking a proactive approach by using social media to help their policyholders with hurricane preparedness tips and letting them know that they are ready to help as needed. The bar for customer care is forever being raised. The ability to interact and exchange information in real-time, coupled with quick and smooth claims settlement after the storm will build brand image, and at the same time, mitigate loss exposure.” (emphasis supplied.)

Proper disaster response requires pre-disaster preparedness.  If you don’t have a social media communications strategy, can you expect to meet the new level of the customer service bar?