- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Operationalized Customer Experience: On the Horizon?

The last two decades have not been kind to insurers. Sources of pain range from a continuing soft market and falling interest rates to regulations and judicial rulings that increase costs or limit revenues.

Insurance marketers have sought strategies that could increase competitive advantage and improve profitability. One such strategy is ‘Customer Experience.’ Will this make a difference?

Customer Experience Management has worked for others

For some years, consultants have studied and promoted Customer Experience Management (CEM) tools to leverage data into a ‘360° view’ of the customer and integrate channels of communication.

Glen Johnson, writing in the IOT Journal, says, “The theory behind these systems is that employees in sales, marketing and service roles can delight customers by referencing past interactions they or their colleagues have had with them.”

These systems have taken advantage of digital tools. Johnson continues:

The Internet of Things brings an entirely new meaning to a 360-degree view of the customer. In fact, it is more literally true now than ever. … [Sensors and other technologies] are converging to provide a customer’s digital footprint that is more real-world and less digital-reality every day.

Industries have found success. According to Johnson, Pitney Bowes can utilize data from machines to “proactively identify, diagnose and resolve asset service issues before clients are even aware of a problem.” Coca-Cola uses data to direct advertising and marketing.

So what about insurance?

Pitney Bowes’ customers are probably engaged by proactive fixes to the printers and copy machines. Coke customers are likely interested in commercials that reflect their lifestyle.   But when it comes to insurance, simply providing more insurance data to the customer may not be welcomed with open arms.

Paul Cole, president of inQuba, provides customer experience management services. Citing data from the Insurance Information Institute and Accenture, Cole summarizes the state of consumers’ engagement in a recent Insurance Information Reporter edition:

Traditionally, insurance has been viewed by many as a necessary evil. Interactions with carriers exist at the point of purchase and possibly at a point of claim, with often a lengthy gap between those two touchpoints.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Mario Schlosser, CEO and co-founder of Oscar Health, a US health insurer, had this to say at the CB Insights’ Future of Insurance conference: “The user experience sucks.”

Schlosser summarized the experience of a customer who has to wade through options for selecting a new insurance plan: “If you want to feel really stupid, try choosing an insurance plan.” Not a great endorsement.

But there is some good news

Insurers, which are adopting digital technologies generally and the use of the Internet of Things specifically, are realizing this is not just an IT project. This involves engagement with the internal staff and focus on making a cultural shift across the whole organization.  We have to provide value-add as well as data.

In addition, Millennials – who will be insurance buyers for the next 40 years – are now exercising their muscles in the market place. These digital natives have very different expectations, one of which is that they assume you have data that can help them as well as you. So why not use it.

The key point is that we need to understand the wants as well as the needs for the customer segment(s) we want to serve.  And be able to operationalize this knowledge consistently into the customer touch points – whether these are human or machine driven.

And is offering some help…

 The 2016 Executive Forum, being held on August 30, 2016 in Toronto, is focusing on Customer Experience. Here are some examples:

Full details at 2016 Executive Forum.

 What do you think?

As an insurance professional, do you see the need for a focus on customer experience? Is it a priority in your company?

As an insurance user, are you seeing a shift from your insurer and/or distributor? Should it be a priority for you?