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A Unique Broker Opportunity: Technology, Customization, and Zero Distance

Increasingly, consumer-facing organizations are using technology to offer a customized experience to their customers. It is part of a trend referred to as mass customization aimed at delivering products and services reflecting customers’ individual tastes and preferences, at prices that translate into superior value.

Mass customization and zero distance

Companies’ adoption of mass customization is driven by heightened customer expectations and the quest to develop and sustain competitive advantage. It is part of a trend toward ZERO DISTANCE: A NEW PROXIMITY TO THE CUSTOMER.

These increasingly customized experiences are raising customer expectations from every supplier and every industry, including insurance.  As the level of personalization received from their supermarket, their hotel, their furniture store, …increases, customers’ expectations regarding personalization received from their insurance company and broker will also increase.

The broker is uniquely positioned

The broker channel is uniquely positioned to compete in this space of increasing customization. The broker advantage is the knowledge that he/she has of his/her customers – much of which is not available on social media (for those policyholders who have a social media presence) or in the insurance information provided by the customer.

While connecting through social media with customers may be useful, doing the basics right is significantly more important.

What do I mean by the “basics”? I am referring to serving the customer based on an intimate understanding of his/her insurance needs, preferences, behaviours, habits, likes and dislikes. I am referring to the intimate knowledge that a broker has (or should have) about the customer, including their possessions (Home(s), car(s), art, …), their family situation (Spouse? Children? Their ages? Living at home? …), their habits (Annual vacations? …), their risk averseness, their communications preferences (By email, by phone, in person? Evenings? Weekends? …), etc.  The broker should be using this intimate knowledge information to identify opportunities, to serve the customer in ways that no intelligent database or advanced analytics program can do.

Having intimate knowledge of customers allows brokers to foresee their needs and recommend solutions before policyholders even realize they have a need. That increases the perception of guidance, of convenience, of relationship and of understanding of the customer’s needs.

The broker, more than any other player in the P&C insurance space has (or should have) the intimate understanding of the policyholder’s needs, wants and preferences.

A unique broker opportunity

This UNDERSTANDING NEEDS and the RELATIONSHIP represent great opportunity for proactive customer service and value creation. They also represent new business opportunity identification among an existing customer base.

The broker, more than any other player in the insurance industry, is in a potential zero-distance relationship with the customer. It is that zero-distance relationship that has value creating and opportunity identification potential. It is also the key to building satisfaction and loyalty and to turning the tide on erosion of broker channel market share.

Editor’s Note: Catherine Kargas is Vice President at MARCON, and Chair, Electric Mobility Canada.  Catherine is also a member of the Insurance 2023 study group.

This is excerpted from a more detailed discussion posted at Insurance-Canada.ca.

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