The focus on the consumer is nothing new for insurers, but the focus on the on-line consumer is. As we ponder how we will shape insurance products and services for the on-line consumer of the future (who is likely in our client file or on our prospect list now), one of the best questions we might ask is: “Who are our role models?” We might be surprised at the outcome.
According to Neff Hudson, assistant VP of emerging channels at San Antonio-based USAA (a US direct writer, focusing on a full range of insurance and financial services for military and government personnel), Amazon, the on-line book seller, has been a role model for USAA for the past several years. Cited in Insurance & Technology, Hudson says his organization is especially impressed with Amazon’s use of predictive analytics to up-sell and cross-sell at the point of sale. Hudson believes this has significant potential in his company, allowing CSRs to make very specific suggestions. “For example: ‘People like you need life,’ ‘People like you need this much comprehensive coverage,’ ‘Have you considered umbrella insurance — because people with your asset class tend to use it.’ ”
The move to an on-line world is changing the relationship between the provider and the customer. Insurers can benefit from the use of analytics to suggest products, but the consumer will also expect that the insurer will use information to simplify the buying process. The Insurance & Technology article notes that Esurance, Allstate’s on-line unit, pre-fills portions of applications with data from proprietary analytics,and has other point-of-sale initiatives in development. Lisa Ward, VP of customer experience and communication at Esurance says, “This helps them make more-informed decisions throughout those processes, and helps us improve customer satisfaction.”
As insurers enter the world of the on-line consumer, there is a temptation to assume that products and services are sufficient and that IT is simply a channel. We should remember that IT is struggling with its own consumerization issues. In this regard, we might look at how IT is (or is not) coping with organizations like Apple, which are allowing users to act as their own IT departments.
Technology journalist, Ryan Faas, blogging from the Recent Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise (CITE) conference in San Francisco suggested that it is IT that needs to change, not the consumer: “As people become comfortable buying and managing their personal technologies with a newfound ease, they integrate them into their everyday lives more deeply than ever before. That builds more comfort, which drives even deeper adoption. … IT needs to get on board with this shift and rewrite its own DNA. With consumer devices that come with their own Internet connection and ever-growing ecosystems of tools, users can simply ignore IT if they choose.”
If we change ‘IT’ to ‘Insurer’ in the previous quote, we might see a suggestion for another role model insurers can emulate.