There is a lot of talk about the power of social media in selling insurance. But, as was the case with the emergence of the Internet in the mid 1990s, the real power (for good or ill) may be in marketing through customer service.
The holy grail of marketing is getting the customer to recommend the product. Social media are tailor made for this. In a recent interview with eMarketer, Shawn Morton Director, Mobile, Social and Emerging Media Nationwide Insurance, talked about how his company built this strategy out with the help of a third party: “We know the voice of the customer is a trusted source of information. So we work with Bazaarvoice (the solution provider) to encourage customer reviews on our auto insurance product.”
Of course, not all customer reviews are positive. And some can turn downright ugly and go viral. United Airlines found this out when David Carroll, a Canadian songwriter, frustrated by the airline’s apparent lack of concern over his guitar which was broken in transit, wrote a song about the incident and posted it on YouTube with the catchy title: ‘United Breaks Guitars’. (History and song can be found here.)
Steven Callahan comments on this in Insurance Network News: “Thus, therein lays the challenge as we enter the age of customer-differentiated service combined with the power of social media. No longer is a simple customer transaction an event that is unlikely to damage a company’s reputation and brand. In the past, customers would express their dissatisfaction to their friends and perhaps even change companies, but business would go on as usual. With the advent of social media, the impact of customer voice has been amplified dramatically.” Callahan refers to this as ‘Caveat Venditor’.
Staying off social media is not a solution. You will be talked about whether you are there or not. But the bright side is that negative reviews are not all bad. Back to Nationwide’s Morton: “We have a system in place to respond to reviews if, for example, negative ones come up. It sounds like a strange way of looking at it, but there is value in a negative review here and there. If all you see is five stars and everything is perfect, it feels more like a testimonial or like we may have stacked the deck in our favor.”
Social Media and Insurance Marketing is a key topic at this year’s ICTC.