“Attract, Engage, Delight,” was the motto for the 2017 Insurance Nexus Customer Engagement Summit. I recently had the pleasure of attending this two-day conference where a diverse group of insurance leaders shared stories of fresh insights, strategic stumbles, and exciting successes—all in the pursuit of a newer, customer-centric approach.

In the digital economy, entry barriers are low and competitors are many. Companies can no longer stand out by focusing on price and product alone. Looking for new opportunities, many forward-thinking businesses set their sights on customer engagement in order to foster meaningful, lasting consumer relationships. This call to elevate the customer experience grows louder in nearly every industry today, and as such, Mintel Comperemedia tracks and studies this subject closely.

Key takeaways and what marketers need to know

statefarmKnow thy customer: Outside-in

“What is the best way to get to know your customer?” This is a question that was posed consistently throughout the two-day summit—and for good reason. So long as a company is unable to understand what their customers want and why they want it, any engagement approach would be ill-advised. While no response or strategy was ever exactly the same from one attendee to another, varying combinations of two distinct methods emerged. The first approach, outside-in, leans heavily on external tools or software to provide advanced touchpoints and supplementary user data. Roost, a summit vendor, pitched this exact value proposition. More than an IoT company offering digitally synched smoke and leak detectors, Roost adeptly points out that its ever-connected devices give insurers real estate right on customer phones. As insurers still struggle to convince customers to use their proprietary apps, incorporating IoT devices into their products increases insurer relevance and significantly minimizes communication hurdles. While Roost currently partners with several insurance companies including Desjardins, USAA and Liberty Mutual, it has many peers in the IoT marketplace. HomeServe Labs offers its own proprietary “LeakBot,” while companies like Canary and Cocoon work with insurers to incorporate home security devices into policies as well.

Know thy customer: Inside-out

The concept of building a customer-centric organization is easy to discuss, but challenging to implement. Just as carriers struggle with sluggish, legacy software systems, organizational culture can be equally inertial. To break old habits, some insurers take an inside-out approach. At the Customer Engagement Summit, MetLife’s Chief Customer Officer Claire Burns began her presentation with a well-known industry adage: “We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Insurance is sold, not bought.’ Before, insurance policies were created based on what we as companies wanted to cover, only then would we share it with the customer. At MetLife, we’re trying to change that.” She went on to note that beyond just adding customer centricity to a goal statement, her company has implemented ways to make every employee (regardless of his or her role) accountable to improving the customer experience and engagement. At MetLife, Net Promoter scores impact everything from research plans to employee bonuses.

MetLife was not the only insurer to share this new insurance worldview, however. Nearly a dozen speakers noted that engaging customers begins simply by listening. They encouraged their peers to move to the next, most important step: empowering employees through a systemic support structure. At the end of her presentation, Ms. Burns shared a customer-centric success. Recently, MetLife designed concierge health and wellness insurance products based on detailed focus groups within a niche Chinese market segment. By taking an inside-out approach, the company was able to create a profitable product that was also extremely valuable to consumers that larger competitors had overlooked.

Claims management: the moment of truth

chubbA number of speakers at the summit were quick to identify the claims experience as one of the most critical “moments of truth” within the insurance customer journey. Indeed, these relationships typically involve few interactions, so when a customer does reach out to file a claim, he/she expects to get results. As several carriers lamented, however, the real-world experience often falls short, so it will likely be the first of many touchpoints to get a much-needed makeover. Along with empathy and guidance, insurers at the summit stated that customers were clamoring for speed and transparency. To achieve this, carriers teased bold initiatives including: AI, drones, claims-tracking software and interactive video tutorials. For example, in a creative, insurance provider Chubb shared how its risk engineers and claims adjusters use drones for safer, quicker claims reports after severe storms.

Caitlin Moling is the Director of Insights, Insurance for Mintel Comperemedia. She combines her deep knowledge of the complex insurance industry with consumer research, industry trends and competitive marketing intelligence to build timely and meaningful stories for Mintel’s insurance clients. As a part of her role as a thought leader for insurance, Caitlin travels throughout the US and Canada to present insurance marketing trends and insights to major industry stakeholders.

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