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Balancing Digital & Personal Communications: Twitterus Vobiscum?

Pope Francis weighed in on balancing digital and personal communication last week.  While His Holiness was focusing on good works and matters of the soul, His words reflect what analysts and consultants are finding to be good counsel in creating a balance between digital and personal communication concerning matters of insurable interest.

Communication will be a major topic at the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference (#ICTC2014).  We’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

In celebration of World Communications ….

… Pope Francis penned a message for the 48th World Communications Day which welcomed digital media as an important tool to bring people closer together “even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent.”

At the same time, His Holiness cautioned us on the risks of impersonal communications, writing:  “It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply ‘connected’; connections need to grow into true encounters.”

So what does this mean for insurance?

Virtually every report on insurance communication notes that customers expect insurers (and brokers) to have effective digital communication options.   Back in September, we commented on a J.D. Power survey of customers’ reaction to current insurance efforts and concluded that we earned a B- grade.

In its 2013 World Insurance Report, CapGemini noted that “the use of face-to-face interactions is expected to decline further as the use of Internet/PC, Phone and Internet/Mobile all increase.”  However, it is important to note that over a five year period, this decline will be from 75% to 61%, so personal interaction is alive and very well.

More locally, in the Americas portion of its Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2012, Ernst&Young found that 23% of consumers were using on-line for a portion of their insurance communication.  However, the analysis noted:

Direct personal contact, however, remains important during virtually all critical phases of the product life cycle, particularly when customers are extending coverage, making a claim or dealing with other customer service issues. Customers clearly voiced a desire for both improved online access and continual personal contact when it matters. In our opinion, a true multichannel approach to servicing the customer is essential, not just today, but in the years to come.

Before saying the digital natives have a different view, let’s consider a 2013 Accenture survey on personal insurance which concluded that:

well over one in three customers are willing to pay for advice about the insurance that is best for them … and more than half are prepared to pay at least 10 percent more. The younger the  customer, the greater the perceived value of good, personalized advice. (emphasis supplied)

But there’s just one more thing …

The analysts note that digital strategy goes beyond the communications channel.  In this new world, consumers expect to be able to use multiple channels and have a consistent experience.  The CapGemini report notes:

Ultimately, social media offers new ways for insurers to increase their market penetration, and increase the effectiveness of their customer acquisition/retention strategies. But so far, very few insurers have fully integrated social media into their overall enterprise- wide CRM strategies (across marketing, sales, and service). Rather, they are taking a piecemeal approach to the use of social-media technologies to solve specific customer or business issues.

Ernst & Young comes to a similar conclusion, and provides some advice:  “Insurers have to be able to seamlessly integrate online and offline channels to meet changing customer needs over the product life cycle.”

And, to come full circle, Pope Francis’ vision of the role of digital seems aligned: “media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all.”

More on this to come at #ICTC2014

There are a number of experts focusing on the role of digital media at #ICTC2014, including:

Additional sessions being announced daily.  Check back often.  But register soon.   Early Bird fees available until January 31,2014.

What do you think?

Are we moving towards a balanced communications environment at a rate that keeps up with consumer needs? What more could/should we do?  Leave us a comment below.

 

 

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