Insurers are among the least-trusted companies in the UK and cannot answer over half of routine questions asked of them by customers online, a new study has uncovered.
After polling 1,000 customers, the researchers found that just 3% rate insurers as the most-trusted companies, leaving them joint last with airlines, telecoms and automotive firms.
The study also found that insurance companies successfully answer only 46% of queries asked of them via the web, email and social media, trailing all the other 14 industries studied.
Just 20% managed to answer a basic question sent via email, despite 49% of consumers identifying this as their primary or secondary channel for finding information.
Digital customer experience firm Eptica, which commissioned the research, said there is a "growing disconnect" between what customers want and what insurers offer.
"Insurers are facing a perfect storm of increased customer expectations, rising costs and market disruption," said Eptica CEO, Olivier Njamfa.
"The study shows that the majority are simply failing to cope, being unable to deliver adequate customer service on consumer's channels of choice."
It was also found that 49% of customers rank online chat as their first or second preferred information channel, but that just 10% of insurers had this working when tested.
This is despite easy and seamless processes being ranked a top factor for creating trustworthiness by 63% of customers, while 59% said satisfactory, consistent answers are key.
Demonstrating a silo-based approach, one insurer answered the same question on Twitter in 6 minutes, Facebook in 11 minutes and then took over 17 hours to respond on email.
Facebook came out on top with a 65% success rate for answering questions online, but a mere 8% of consumers said they wanted to use it to find insurance information.
"Insurers need to act quickly and do two things if they are to safeguard current and future revenues," Njamfa said. "First, they need to embrace processes, technology and knowledge.
"Second, they need to listen to consumers and use this insight to drive continual customer experience improvement to ensure that they successfully compete moving forward."