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Consumer Loyalty & On-Line Services. Survey Says: Build It or They Will Go

Two surveys of US personal lines customers (one personal auto, one personal property) reinforce some common wisdom.  They also reinforce that customer loyalty depends on delivery of greater interactive, self-service capabilities, delivered on-line.  Our question to you:  do Canadian customers exhibit similar traits?  And, if so, are Canadian insurers and brokers moving to meet the emerging requirements of these consumers?

The on-line surveys were conducted by Deloitte Research in August 2011.  A public domain summary report is available here.

Some of the survey results give comfort to current insurers and brokers.  The majority of consumers are satisfied with prices and services offered and have low propensity to change.  There is also strong support that loyalty that is developed while consumers are young is hard to break.  Common sense.

There are warning signs coming from the same young demographic.  These consumers tend to be shoppers (no surprise there).  And they tend to buy from direct marketers rather than through intermediaries  (still no surprise).  Moreover, the expectations of this younger demographic may be influencing all consumers (hmm).

One key factors is the ability to communicate in the channel that the consumer prefers.  The report states:

“…across the board the vast majority of respondents in both surveys say that the ability to interact with their insurers over a multitude of channels—in person or on the phone, over the Internet or via applications on their smartphones—will be a critical consideration when they make their next personal lines policy purchase, regardless of how or from whom they buy their coverage.”

The younger consumers are even keener than the average:

“…delving deeper into the importance of technology in personal lines, a generation gap emerges here as well, with younger respondents far keener on having multi-channel options available… the younger segments were at least twice as likely as older respondents to say they would change carriers to secure online services.”

These requirements will not be satisfied with static, marketing oriented web sites.  The types of services demanded require integration to insurance systems.  As the reports says:

“When it comes to web-based services, among those features rated as extremely or very useful to auto buyers surveyed (cited by nearly three of four respondents) was the ability to check on the status of a claim, get information about products and services, and secure price quotes. The second tier of responses (cited by about two out of three) focused on renewing a policy, updating account information, locating an insurer-recommended repair facility, paying a bill, contacting an agent or finding one nearby, and submitting a claim online.”

Social media is emerging as the preferred channel for delivery:

“…a significant number of those who did receive information from their insurer via social media liked what they received (around one in four found such information very useful, while 13- to 15% found it extremely useful).”

To meet these requirements effectively, insurers and brokers face fairly complex (and expensive) development and integration tasks.  The question is, are the same consumer factors at play in the Canadian market?  If so, how far along do you think we are?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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