It seems we've struck out in trying to arrange a conversation between the CEOs of State Farm and Lemonade on what role technology should play in interactions with customers, in the wake of a State Farm ad that mocked chatbots and seemed to be aimed, at least in part, at Lemonade. We tried various dates, on both coasts. We made it clear that we weren't trying to embarrass anyone, that we weren't looking for any gotchas. But State Farm wasn't interested.
You can understand why, at least to a point. When a colleague of mine back at the Wall Street Journal wrote "Den of Thieves" about the Wall Street scandals involving Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky et al. back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Alan Dershowitz for some reason decided to take out a series of full-page ads in the New York Times denouncing the book—which promptly went to No. 1 on the Times best-seller list and stayed there for months. You can imagine that State Farm is being smarter, in deciding not to help raise the profile of a startup like Lemonade.
Still, I'm disappointed. The role of technology in customer interactions needs to be figured out, and we in the insurance industry are smarter as a group than we are individually. Our motto at ITL is, "Nobody is as smart as everybody."
Technology will play a major role in some ways, simply because it can be so much faster and more convenient than calling a company and waiting on hold or than mailing documents back and forth. But if history is any guide—and it almost always is—we're going to make some mistakes, moving either too fast or too slowly. It would help to share our experiences.
So, we at ITL will keep trying to seed the conversation on the role technology can and should play. For now, perhaps the best place to continue is at the "Inventing the Future of Risk and Insurance" group that I moderate on our Innovator's Edge platform and that includes some very smart and wise people. To join the group, click here. If you haven't already joined Innovator's Edge, you need to click here first. (Registering take seconds and is free.) Maybe we can even get some State Farm folks to join in on the sly.
Have a great week.