Do we have a failure to communicate?
A recent survey by Thunderhead Communications, conducted by YouGov, and reported in eMarketer asked US Internet users whether various service providers communicated with them in their preferred digital channels. Thirty nine percent said that insurance did ‘Well’ or ‘Fairly well’, which was above gas providers (27%) and Landline phone providers (38%). However, Insurance ranked well below Cable providers (45%), Mobile phone providers (50%), and, significantly, Banks (54%).
In December last year, we reported on a Fiserv survey which suggested that consumers were turning more to digital channels for communication a, but financial institutions were lagging in response. Fiserv concluded: “Now it’s time for financial institutions to embrace social media. Leveraging social networks, financial institutions can foster deeper, more personal relationships, resulting in more profitable and loyal customers.” The above data seem to suggest that US banks might be getting this message.
The YouGov survey went deeper into insurance communications and asked whether consumers would find it useful if insurers communicated using various digital channels. Over 70% indicated email would be useful, one-fifth indicated mobile media (Text/mobile apps) would be useful, and 11% indicated social media would be useful.
These results align with recent work done by Accenture, reported in Insurance & Technology, which segmented responses by demographics. The research, involving 7,000 respondents in 13 countries, found that “more than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents below 35 years expressed interest in using mobile devices to text insurers to receive updates on claim requests, or to interact with agents and brokers through smart phones equipped with video capabilities, compared to less than half (46 percent) of respondents over 45 years.”
The authors of the study, John Del Santo and Edwin Van Der Ouderaa, suggest that consumers are leading insurers in adoption of digital communications and that this “has led to what we call a ‘looming expectation gap’ between what consumers want from their insurers and what they feel they are receiving.” This, the authors believe, will impact loyalty and ultimately profitability in growing market segments.
The authors cite survey data which show “more than three-fifths (61 percent) of respondents said that it was very important for their insurer to provide prompt and effective service, or to answer requests in a timely manner, but only 32 percent of respondents were very satisfied with their insurers’ ability to deliver such service. And, while 53 percent of respondents stated that access to the information they need whenever they need it is very important to them, only 29 percent felt very satisfied with their insurers’ capacity to provide assistance on a 24-hour, seven days per week basis.”
The Fiserv study last year concluded “Now it’s time for financial institutions to embrace social media. Leveraging social networks, financial institutions can foster deeper, more personal relationships, resulting in more profitable and loyal customers.”
Data suggest consumers are trying to communicate that to us.