The Connected Business of Insurance
March 13, 2015
All the rage – and rightfully so
Customer experience (CX) is all the rage. You can’t click to an insurance industry news site or general interest news site, or even pick up an insurance industry trade magazine without seeing exhortations about the need for insurance industry companies, agencies and brokerages to become customer centric, customer focused, or customer engaged. Actually, there should be trumpets blasting the message in every direction you turn about the critical importance of CX to your firm’s ongoing and future success. It’s that important and why we believe it’s imperative that agencies, brokers and MGAs constantly strengthen the CX they provide their clients.
Think of “customer experience” as the total amount of positive and negative perceptions customers have each time they interact with an agency, producers or CSRs for any reason, regardless of the nature of the interaction or the technology the client uses to interact. Moreover, the perception of whether any one interaction between the customer and your firm is positive or negative is entirely up to the customer.
Technology is the culprit and is reshaping customer expectations
Technology advances, including the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, are ratcheting up customers’ expectations of immediacy, ease of use and accessibility of people and information, regardless of where they are or the time of day. Customers will increasingly expect producers and CSRs to be even more accessible, more responsive and more personal in their interactions.
What we used to call “Moments of Truth,” but now label customer interaction, are quickly becoming high-definition spotlights that uncover every blemish and every age-mark of the quality and timeliness of the service you provide customers. Adding to your workload to support CX, the customer interaction options extend to the information that your firm publishes online: the content must be easy for clients to find, easy to understand, relevant to customers, and equally important and engaging.
The number and type of customer interaction options continues to grow
The days of customers having only the options of meeting face to-face with producers or using the telephone, fax or email to interact with a firm are quickly fading. Customers know they have, and are comfortable using, many more options to reach out and interact with producers and CSRs.
Market Insight Group believes that there are 4 phases of known and potential customer interaction options.
Each phase is associated with time, progressing from the earliest era of geographically bound commerce (Phase 1) to the current and unfolding eras of real-time online digital social media-amplified mobile commerce (Phases 2–4). Specifically:
- Phase 1: Insurance firms conduct business from geographic locations. Insurance firm owners and producers use Yellow Pages, newspapers and telephone directories and participate in community associations to maximize the likelihood of prospective customers knowing the “who, where and what” of the firm and its producers.
- Phase 2: Insurance firms create online digital presences to primarily reach out to and conduct commerce with clients. Insurance firms are constantly challenged to determine how to ensure that prospective clients are able to find the agency or brokerage online – often through search engines – and offer their existing clients information anytime and anywhere they want it via tools such as an online self-service portal.
- Phase 3: This phase is rapidly becoming the “new normal” of online digital communication, collaboration and media consumption. To compete successfully, insurance firms need to acquire social media, digital brand marketing and content management skills to attract prospective customers and keep them engaged – particularly customers using smart devices and expecting increasing functionality as apps for their smart devices. In fact, this phase represents the tipping point from insurance firms conducting business on a transactional basis to conducting business on a more interpersonal client engagement basis.
- Phase 4: This phase is slowly beginning to emerge and encompasses interaction options that enable customers to reach out to insurance firms, producers and CSRs from an expanding set of on-the-go mobile capability choices, including Web-connected vehicles, wearables, interactive TV and other video streams that are personalized for each customer. Market Insight Group believes customers will bring their expectations of personalized content to their on-the-go interactions with insurance firms, producers and CSRs. We are well on our way to live and work in an interconnected real-time digital mobile marketplace.
Adapt or remain the same?
This is the question regarding strengthening CX that you have to answer. Do you truly want to play a status quo game?
Are you, as an agency or brokerage firm owner willing to bet your future competitive success being based on the same capabilities and daily operational activities you use to support clients in the current marketplace?
This blog shares insights from the report “Adaptability: The Insurance Customer Experience Imperative in an Online Digital Mobile Society” by Market Insight Group, sponsored by Applied Systems.
Barry Rabkin, president of the insurance technology analyst firm Market Insight Group, is known for his research focusing on areas where current and emerging technology affects insurance commerce, markets, customers and channels. He has been involved with the insurance industry for more than 35 years. Before rejoining his own company in April 2014, he was a principal analyst at Ovum, where he was responsible for leading the global insurance research stream. Before that, Rabkin was responsible for leading the global insurance advisory team at Financial Insights, an IDC company.