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Social Reform in the Insurance Industry

Social — it’s no longer a term used exclusively by millennials looking to catch up with family and friends. Customers now have the ability to tweet and connect with their most hated or most adored organizations — and these organizations have the ability to communicate back. The concept of social businesses is alive and well in the enterprise space and has forced companies to change the way they interact with their most important stakeholders, their customers and their employees.

Consumer demand  is driving

Even in an industry as “traditional” as insurance, the need for social businesses has been driven by the evolving consumer demand that companies should know them as more than a transaction, more than a claim number, more than a demographic and be able to seamlessly interact with them through multiple channels.

In today’s world, if we don’t provide them with a consistent and satisfactory experience in a timely manner, someone else will. And our soon to be ex-customers will not hesitate to vent their frustrations on the World Wide Web.  In fact, 84% of millennials say social and user-generated content has an influence on what they buy. To make situations more complicated, the average response times that customers expect from a company once contacted via social media is 5 minutes but only 1% of social leads get a brand response.

Now that customers have the power to share their opinions, personal experiences, and horror stories  with millions of people in a matter of minutes using social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it is imperative that insurance companies take on a new mindset on how they can leverage social media to improve the customer experience

Coming Trends

In the next 5 years, there are two social trends that we will likely see emerge and thrive in the insurance space.

Crowdsourcing – Although the majority of customers still make the final purchase through insurance agents (51.5%), many customers begin the process by flocking to the internet to research and compare rates amongst competitors. But with the different types of products, premiums, coverages, and other factors the process can be quite overwhelming.

Let’s imagine what we at IBM call “the art of the possible”. Imagine the 21 year old version of yourself – you have just bought your first car and are now in the market for car insurance. To find the best price, you start your journey on Google and begin to compare rates from some of the top insurance providers.

You quickly realize that you have no idea what the insurance jargon on the screen means and wish there was an easier way to choose the best product  for you. Using  technology to understand your key details (age, driving history, car type, city, etc.) and connecting information that with what other people like you are buying, you will get smarter product recommendations.

As well, your friends from Facebook or Twitter that may have also brought these products. This type of social platform will empower the customer to make decisions independently and likely increase the number of online claim purchases

Sharing Expertise to Increase the Bottom Line – Social does not always have to be between the business and a consumer. With constantly changing regulations, complex scenarios and multiple insurance products within a single company, there is great value to be realized by companies who use social platforms to allow employees to share knowledge and expertise with each other.

The trick is having an enterprise platform, which extends to  simple-to-use, but powerful, mobile apps, that can allow employees find these experts quickly and on the fly.  IBM currently uses a technology called IBM Expertise which allows IBMers to find experts around the globe by industry, skills, clients, projects, technologies which we use for advice, mentoring, information and resource transfer and allows us to capitalize on cross-selling opportunities, work more efficiently and ultimately allow each employee to provide their client a better experience.

Taking a capability like IBM Expertise and introducing it to industries like insurance will create smart, liquid, and collaborative workforces.

 

Editor’s Note:  Peter Pleckaitis leads the Customer Experience & Strategy team in IBM’s Interactive Experience organization. Peter works with clients to generate business models and launch new business to capture the benefits of disruptive technologies.  Peter recently presented at the Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum 2014.

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One Comment

Michael Harrison

What about the 21 year old who will buy his first car and has the monthly premium included in the telematics platform (UBI) along with the monthly charge for other services such as satellite radio, home security etc ? When it comes up for renewal, does the client (or the company for that matter) need a broker? We are hiding our head in the sand. There was mention recently that consumers would be willing to pay 18% extra premium for service. I don’t think so for auto insurance.

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