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What Happens When Consumers Know More Than We Do?

A colleague of ours was recently bemoaning the lack of interest that insurers and brokers are taking in new developments such as social and usage-based insurance.  Our friend suggested that without a working knowledge of operational tools, such as social media, and technologies such as  telematics, we’re falling behind our customers and won’t be able to compete.

The reality is that the consumers may know more than we do about communications technology already, and may be catching up on insurance knowledge as well.

So our question is:  What happens then the consumers know more than we do, but still have to rely on us for the final purchase.  We’d be interested in your thoughts.

The consumer sets the pace

Marketers everywhere have learned that consumers’ expectations have changed radically due to digital sophistication.

According to a recent report by eMarketer, “The rapid emergence of the everywhere, always-connected consumer places new demands on marketers.”

Turnaround time is a critical factor.  According to eMarketer,  in responding to requests for information or supplying products and services, “Gone are the days of 24- or 48-hour response times. Consumers expect instant interactions, whether it is a relevant offer or an answer to a customer service query, and the ability for same-day delivery of items purchased through digital channels.”

What does this mean for insurance?

In a recent blog, Forrester’s Ellen Carney  suggests that digital will disrupt the relationship that insurers/brokers typically have with policy holders:

Once upon a time, insurers sat in the power seat when it came to their interactions with policyholders.  The insurers understood the magic behind how insurance was sold, how premiums were calculated, and how claims were adjudicated. Those days are gone. In the Age Of The Customer, consumers are changing the rules and who wield the power. Thanks to all things digital, consumers have shifted from being passive sideliners and are willing — and able — to play more active and demanding roles across the insurance business.

The service cycle for insurance has to meet consumers’ expectations, not only for timeliness, and communication channel of choice, but with regard to information transparency.

Consumers get engaged with details…

Digital natives are comfortable with complex concepts that underpin search algorithms and crowd-sourced capital financing.  As insurers introduce approaches such as usage-based insurance, underwriters and distributors can expect a client/prospect base who may know as much or more than they do about the actual workings of these products.  Consumers have shown interest in understanding how our products work and leading insurers are using this information to increase customer engagement.

A key here will be transparency, and ease of access.  Annual renewals will seem like an eternity to clients who can get daily,  hourly, or instant feedback on other activities.  Feedback and price/product adjustments must fit the needs and timetables of the new consumers.

If we can’t do this, others may be positioned to do so.  Carney writes that insurers who are not plugged in are “threatened by an ecosystem of adjacent players like car manufacturers, utility companies, telecom firms, and sensor and wearables manufacturers, whose utility and access to consumer data has placed them dangerously close to the core of insurance.”

What do you think?

Are you seeing the  impact of the new consumer from your wheelhouse?  Is she bringing her expectations from other industries?  Is our industry  ready to handle the new generation of consumers? Are you?

Drop a comment below.

 

 

 

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