by Karin Kruger, operations director at Innovation Group
Switching insurance providers has never been easier for consumers than it is in the digital age.
A price comparison website can provide multiple quotes in seconds. A quick trip over to an insurer’s Facebook Page or Hellopeter profile condenses thousands of word-of-mouth customer experiences into a quick online read, and more and more advanced chatbots are an omnipresent force on practically all insurers’ websites, able to answer customer questions with no human intervention at all.
It’s safe to say that all these developments were not dreamt up by the businesses themselves – they were demanded by increasingly switched-on and digitally minded consumers, and the insurers that are excelling today (not to mention those that will thrive in the future), are those that take those demands seriously.
What was once a drawn-out process of choosing a policy and filling out forms can now be done without so much as a phone call. Consumers are always-on. They are digitally savvy, and their service-level expectations are constantly rising. Today’s top insurers are those who have adjusted their business models to match, and are making use of every digital tool at their disposal to ensure a competitive edge. Here are just three ways the insurance industry is catering to the customer of the future.
On top of being one of the most widespread advertising techniques in the industry today, social media is being used for a wide variety of functions by consumer and insurer alike. A simple inbox message or even a post comment can turn a lead into a customer if handled correctly – just as a single mismanaged negative comment from a policy holder can irreparably affect a business’s corporate image.
Social media also allows for a better understanding – and therefore more effective targeting – of potential policy holders. According to Karin Kruger, Operations Director at Innovation Group, the worlds of the consumer and the insurer are becoming more blurred together by the day.
“With such a complex mix of risk and opportunity, the savvy insurer will likely be placing far more emphasis on the management of a wide array of social media channels – and it’s already happening. Research by LIMRA, the world’s largest association of life insurance and financial services companies, discovered that 93% of life insurance companies had social media programs in place.”
Smart Devices, Sensors and Wearables
It’s more than a fad. Smart watches, mobile apps and vehicle telematics are the basis of many insurers’ rewards programmes, winning customers discounts and value points for going to the gym and eating right (in the case of health insurance), as well as driving carefully in the case of vehicle insurance.
Customers, far from being wary of the amount of information their insurers are collecting about their day to day activities and movements, are scrambling to take part because of the value it offers them as well. Insurance is no longer about population averages. It’s about personalised data – and when your client database goes into the millions, only the power of digital is able to personalise risk profiles as quickly, and in as much detail, as needed.
Kruger continues: “Telematics in particular is providing a far more accurate picture of how customer behaviours affect insurance, and fairness is the end goal for both parties. Studies show that 67% of consumers are willing to be tracked in one way or another, if it could result in a reduction of their premiums.”
Big Data and Analytics
Gone are the trusted old call centres of yesteryear. Today’s top insurers have contact centres that boast enormous data storage and computing power, all in the name of a more personalised customer experience. Modern PBX systems can route a customer’s call to exactly the right person to handle their query with no receptionist intervention necessary. Agents are able to call up a customer’s client history and risk profile at a moment’s notice, and offer tailored premiums based on that data in a heartbeat.
The ability to record calls and gather data about their duration and outcomes also allows insurers to better train their customer service agents for a more seamless experience, and extremely detailed reporting capabilities allow for improvements to the whole process on a month-by-month basis.
Digital technologies are helping the development of the insurance sector in the areas of speed, relevance, context, personalization and empathy. And it can only be to the consumer’s advantage that insurers are adjusting to these in order to close the gap between what customers want and what they are delivering.