Technology is changing the kind of experience customers want from insurers and opening up a new front in the competition for customers. How can insurers keep themselves relevant for their customers and avoid being relegated to just manufacturing insurance products?
In an increasingly price-driven and comparison site dominated personal lines market, insurers need to recognise the importance of an enhanced customer experience in differentiating their offering and cementing lasting relationships.
As customers become accustomed to the ease, speed and intimacy of online retail and social media platforms, the big question is whether insurers are doing enough to keep pace. Several leading online retail platforms, for example, already know their customers’ purchase preferences and using data analytics may already have a good idea on what the “contents” of their home or flat are – would it really be a stretch for them to offer customers a contents policy? Depending on what users post on their social media accounts, pictures of their cars and house, for example, may already be online, therefore allowing the platforms to analyse the information to provide relevant insurance products.
The advantage to all these platforms is the data they already have access to. This could position them to proactively price insurance products as relevant to the customer thus providing a slicker customer experience in comparison to the long insurance quote questionnaires that aggregators, brokers and insurers online often require completing. These online platforms are also used by their customers multiple times a day, so they are trusted by their users and could offer the insurance as a “seamless” service.
Given the advantages that online retail and social media platforms have in customer engagement, they may consider providing insurance to their users in the future given the added revenue stream. There are, of course, regulatory hurdles to overcome before such platforms could manufacture insurance products. But, in the short term, these online platforms could take hold of customer interactions, become a new insurance or financial services hub and absorb key elements of the value chain.
This could relegate insurers to just manufacturing insurance, reducing margins substantially. How can insurers fight back or is it too late?
There are four key steps insurers could take to transform their customers’ experience –some insurers are doing some of these.
Continually listening to the customer’s voice and tracking the innovations shaping their expectations, many of which are being driven by or come from outside the industry. You can then judge where to target investment, and decide what talent, technology and partnerships are needed to capitalise.
Insurers are accustomed to big decisions in areas such as product development and systems implementation. But harnessing innovation requires lots of little decisions along the way. Some will work out well and others will not. The courage to make mistakes and learn from them will be an important part of the success stories of tomorrow.
Partnership with InsurTech can increase access to innovation. The insurers that are making the most of the potential aren’t just supporting InsurTech development through funding, but also sharing insights from their market experience and providing an incubator and testing ground for new ideas and ventures. The energy and the ideas may come from the InsurTech start-ups but the established players bring invaluable capabilities around infrastructure and regulatory compliance.
Transforming customer experience isn’t just about technology – talent, marketing and culture are all going to need a review and possible rethink to map out the customer journey that is going to be attractive to tomorrow’s policyholders.
Developing a compelling tech-enabled customer experience is an opportunity to move beyond a once yearly transactional relationship to creating an enduring connection with your clients. This is critical for insurers if they are to “capture” their customers and keep them coming back to buy insurance. These connections can, in turn, provide crucial data for targeting and tailoring your offering. They can also provide a gateway for further innovations including the use of machine learning in risk prevention for a game-changing level of service, as well as pricing and new business models in areas such as point of sale cover or concierge services. If you’re business is slow to respond, you could find yourself losing out to faster moving competitors or to a platform that matters.