Customers are rushing to embrace the digital space. Is your business prepared?
Even before the pandemic, insurance customers were moving to digital channels and demanding the kind of smooth experience they get with Google and Amazon. With customers demanding new types of interactions and agencies and companies needing to increase leads in a world that’s gone from face-to-face to zoom, technology doesn’t have to be intimidating.
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According to home insurance provider Hippo, over half of insurance customers would rather go to the dentist than communicate with their provider. This type of sentiment provides a big business opportunity, however, as insurance increasingly becomes a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business. In the next few years, many believe that the large amounts of marketing and ad dollars traditionally spent to drive traffic to mobile apps and websites will struggle to turn web visits into customers.
Insurance carriers, now more than ever, are afforded the opportunity to address friction within the customer journey as customers expect a transparent and more intuitive experience. Today’s insurance consumer embraces the right engagement at the right time. Providing certainty and clarity to customers reduces anxiety and hesitation and drives success for the customer and the business.
In 2013, Geico’s marketing budget topped $1 billion, with a majority of spending on advertising. Not much has changed. D2C newcomers have acquired early customers with design-first thinking, an emphasis on lower prices and more modern policy terms. But the approaches are meant to acquire customers; neither focuses much on engaging the customer.
According to a recent Watermark customer experience survey, CX leaders outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was 45 points higher than the S&P 500 Index. And customer experience leaders generated a total cumulative return that was nearly three times greater than that of the “Customer Experience Laggards.” Those are numbers any CEO of a traditional insurance company or founder of a major insurtech can rally behind.
How insurance can embrace a different type of customer acquisition
For legacy insurers and a more D2C model, customer experience represents a fundamental and essential shift in mindset. By providing the lower-friction, more customer-centric experience that today’s consumers prefer, legacy insurers and insurtechs can modernize their position in the market. This can all be done by guiding the customer’s experience online through engagement.
Tom Super, director of J.D. Power’s insurance practice, recently noted that, “According to our 2019 J.D. Power Digital Experience Study, 37% of consumers have never spoken with their agent, and one in 10 consumers report they have never interacted with their insurance company at all.”
This clearly leaves a lot of room to grow customer engagement, and the insurance industry should look more closely at how it calculates customer lifetime value (CLV). There is an opportunity to understand where exactly customer engagement produces sales. For insurtechs and legacy providers alike, the question has become: How do you think about engagement when your customers don’t really want to be there or don’t understand exactly where to go? This is a lot different than typical direct-to-consumer marketing and brand challenges.
Creating a more direct customer experience
To win in this fast-evolving insurance marketplace, providers of all types will need to move quickly beyond branding and focus on the customer experience. The first few seconds are critical—as are all the seconds that follow. Customers will need constant reassurance that things will be explained, the next steps will be clear and the company is there for you.
The key to Guided Digital Commerce is automation for the majority of contacts and preserving your live channels for more complex inquiries. If you can give the customer the right answer to a concern the overwhelming majority of the time, you can deploy a profitable engagement solution that can reach all of your customers instead of just a few. In sometimes opaque insurance products, this is key to building effective customer engagement that supports money spent on the brand.
In practical terms, this means providing relevant guidance to help customers complete their onsite journey quickly and easily. Site design and golf tournament sponsorships are only the beginning. From the moment the customer lands on the home page, the provider should watch for signs of hesitation, struggle or opportunity. Site analytics can help the insurer understand the nature of hesitance as well as how to address it. If visitors tend to get stuck at a given point in the process, offer relevant information in context, explaining what to do and what to expect next. Keeping the customer within the digital channel and increasing self-sufficiency is good for the customer and good for business. Anticipate and act on customer behavior in real time. In a sense, be the best possible kind of insurance agent: one who’s clear, helpful and attentive to the customer’s needs but never pushy.
Branding, data science, risk-pricing, terms, customer reviews—these are all part of the mix for competitive success. But none of it matters if you can’t keep customers on your site long enough to see what sets you apart. By offering a new and better kind of engagement experience, insurance can start changing customer perceptions from the moment they arrive. When customers are guided to the information they need to make confident buying decisions, they’re more likely to bind policies, give accurate information to enable accurate risk calculation, update their coverage and generate revenue for the business. And that sure beats a trip to the dentist.
FinTech is more than technology. It is a cultural mindset. Companies hoping to flourish need to shift their thinking to better meet customer needs, constantly track technological developments, aggressively engage with external partners and integrate digitization into their corporate DNA. To fully leverage the potential of FinTech, financial institutions (FIs) should have a top-down approach and embrace new technologies in every aspect of their businesses.
Putting FinTech at the heart of the strategy
The majority of our respondents (60%) put FinTech at the heart of their strategy. In particular, a high number of CEOs agree with this approach (78%), supporting the integration of FinTech at the top levels of management. Advances in technology and communication, combined with the acceleration of data growth, empower customers at nearly every level of engagement, making FinTech essential at all levels.
Our survey supports this notion. Among the respondents that regard themselves as fully customer-centric, 77% put FinTech at the heart of their strategy, while, among respondents that see themselves as only slightly customer-centric, only 27% put FinTech at the same level. A smaller but still significant share of respondents disagrees with putting FinTech at the heart of their strategy (13%). This might be a business risk in the long run, as firms that do not recognize the impact of FinTech will face fierce competition from new entrants. As rivals become more innovative, incumbents might run the risk of being surpassed in their core business strengths.
The share of respondents from fund transfer and payments organizations that want to put FinTech at the heart of their strategy exceeds 80%, a high proportion compared with other sectors. At the other extreme are insurance and asset and wealth management companies, where, respectively, only 43% and 45% of respondents consider FinTech to be a core element of their strategy.
Adopting a ‘mobile-first’ approach
Adopting a “mobile-first” approach is the key to improving customer experience. As Section 2 shows, the biggest trends in FinTech will be related to the multiple ways financial services (FS) engages with customers.
Traditional providers are increasingly taking a “mobile-first” approach to reach out to consumers (e.g. designing their products and services with the aim of enhancing customer engagement via mobile). More than half (52%) of the respondents in our survey offer a mobile application to their clients, and 18% are currently developing one. Banks, 81% of which offer mobile applications, are, increasingly, using these channels to deliver compelling value propositions, generate new revenue streams and collect data from customers. According to Bill Gates, in the year 2030, two billion new customers will use their mobile phones to save, lend and make payments.
Significant growth in clients using mobile applications is expected by 2020. While, currently, the majority of respondents (66%) contend that not more than 40% of their clients use their mobile applications, 61% believe that, over the next five years, more than 60% of their clients will be using mobile applications at least once a month to access financial services.
Toward a more collaborative approach
Whether FS organizations adopt digital or mobile strategies, integrating FinTech is essential. According to our survey, the most widespread form of collaboration with FinTech companies is joint partnership (32%). Traditional FS organizations are not ready to go all-in and invest fully in FinTech. Joint partnership is an easy and flexible way to get involved with a technology firm and harness its capabilities within a safe test environment. By partnering with FinTech companies, incumbents can strengthen their competitive position and bring solutions or products into the market more quickly. Moreover, this is an effective way for both incumbents and FinTech companies to identify challenges and opportunities, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of how they complement one another.
Given the speed of technology development, incumbents cannot afford to ignore FinTech. Nevertheless, a significant minority—rather than a non-negligible share (25%)—of survey respondents do not interact with FinTech companies at all, which could lead to an underestimation of the potential benefits and threats they can bring. According to The Economist, the majority of bankers (54%) are either ignoring the challenge or are talking about disruption without making any changes. FinTech executives confirm this view: 59% of FinTech companies believe banks are not reacting to the disruption by FinTech.
Integrating FinTech comes with challenges
A common challenge FinTech companies and incumbents face is regulatory uncertainty. FinTech represents a challenge to regulators, as there may be a risk of an uneven playing field between the FS and FinTech companies. In fact, 86% of FS CEOs are concerned about the impact of overregulation on their prospects for growth, making this the biggest threat to growth they face. However, the problems do not correspond to specific regulations but rather to ambiguity and confusion. Industry players are asking which regulatory agencies govern FinTech companies. Which rules do FinTech companies have to abide by? And, specifically, which FinTech companies have to adhere to which regulations? In particular, small players struggle to navigate a complex, ever-increasing regulatory compliance environment as they strive to define their compliance model. Recent years have brought an increase of regulations in the FS industry, where even long-standing players are struggling to keep up.
While most FS providers and FinTech companies would agree that the regulatory environment poses serious challenges, there are differences of opinion on which are the most significant. For incumbents, IT security is crucial. This highlights the genuine constraints traditional FS organizations face regarding the introduction of new technologies into existing systems. On the other hand, fund transfer and payments businesses see their biggest challenges in the differences in operational processes and business models. The complexity of processes and emerging business models, as explained in Section 1, which aim to lead the payments industry into a new era, have the potential to both disrupt and complement traditional fund transfer and payments institutions. Their challenge lies in refining old methods while pioneering new processes to compete in the long run.
Just more than half of FinTech companies (54%) believe management and culture act as roadblocks in their dealings with FIs. Because FinTech companies are mainly smaller, they are more agile and flexible. And, because most are in the early stages of development, their structures and processes are not set in stone, allowing them to adapt more easily and quickly to challenges.
Disruption of the FS industry is happening, and FinTech is the driver. It reshapes the way companies and consumers engage by altering how, when and where FS and products are provided. Success is driven by the ability to improve customer experience and meet changing customer needs.
Information on FinTech is somewhat dispersed and obscure, which can make synthesizing the data challenging. It is therefore critical to filter the noise around FinTech and focus on the most relevant trends, technologies and start-ups. To help industry players navigate the glut of material, we based our findings on DeNovo insights and the views of survey participants, highlighting key trends that will enhance customer experience, self-directed services, sophisticated data analytics and cyber security.
In response to this rapidly changing environment, incumbent financial institutions have approached FinTech in various ways, such as through joint partnerships or start-up programs. But whatever strategy an organization pursues, it cannot afford to ignore FinTech.
The main impact of FinTech will be the surge of new FS business models, which will create challenges for both regulators and market players. FS firms should turn away from trying to control all parts of their value chain and customer experience through traditional business models and instead move toward the center of the FinTech ecosystem by leveraging their trusted relationships with customers and their extensive access to client data.
For many traditional financial institutions, this approach will require a fundamental shift in identity and purpose. The new norm will involve turning away from a linear product-push approach to a customer-centric model in which FS providers are facilitators of a service that enables clients to acquire advice and interact with all relevant actors through multiple channels.
By focusing on incorporating new technologies into their own architecture, traditional financial institutions can prepare themselves to play a central role in the new FS world in which they will operate at the center of customer activity and maintain strong positions, even as innovations alter the marketplace.
FIs should make the most of their position of trust with customers, brand recognition, access to data and knowledge of the regulatory environment to compete. FS players might not recognize the financial industry of the future, but they will be in the center of it.
This post was co-written by: John Shipman, Dean Nicolacakis, Manoj Kashyap and Steve Davies.
With $5 trillion in premiums, an incredibly low level of customer satisfaction, aging infrastructures, an analytically based, high-volume business model and a “wait until we have to” approach to innovation, insurance is now fully in the sights of the most disruptively innovative engine on the planet, Silicon Valley. The tipping point for insurance is here.
More than 75 digitally born companies in Silicon Valley, including Google and Apple, are redefining the rules and the infrastructure of the insurance industry.
Inside the Insurance Tipping Point – Silicon Valley | 2016
It’s one thing to listen to all of the analysts talk about the digitization of insurance and the disruptive changes it will bring. It’s quite another to immerse yourself in the amazing array of companies, technologies and trends driving those changes. This post is the first of a series that will give you an inside look at the visions, culture and disruptive innovation accelerating the digital tipping point for insurance and the opportunities that creates for companies bold enough to become part of it. (Join us at #insdisrupt.)
Rise of the Digital Ecosystem – Expanding the Boundaries of Insurance
Digital ecosystems are innovation catalysts and accelerators with power to reshape industry value chains and the world economy. They dramatically expand the boundaries within which insurance can create value for customers and increase the corners from which new competitors can emerge.
Silicon Valley is home to companies acutely aware of how to establish themselves as a dominant and disruptive platform within digital ecosystems. That includes Google, which is investing heavily in the automobile space with Google Compare and self-driving vehicles and has acquired Nest as an anchor in the P&C/smart homes market. Fitbit is already establishing health insurance partnerships. And let’s not forget Apple. The Apple Watch already has insurance-related partners. Apple has clear plans for the smart home market and has recently launched AutoPlay, its anchor entry into the auto market. There are rumors that Apple plans to develop an iCar. And that’s just what we know about.
Customer Engagement and Experience – New Digital Rules, New Digital Playbook.
When your customer satisfaction and trust is one of the lowest in the world and companies like Apple and Google enter your market place, it’s really time to pay attention. There is a customer value-creation and design led innovation culture in the valley unrivaled in the world, and the technology to back it up. Companies like Genesys, and Vlocity are working on perfecting the omni channel expereince. Hearsaysocial and, declara, are working on next gen social media to help customers and the insurance industry create better relationships. Many of the next generation of insurance products will be context aware, opening the door to new ways of reaching and supporting customers. Companies like mCube and Ejenta, are working to provide sensor based insight and the analytics to act on it. Trunomi, Beyond the Ark, and DataSkill via cognitive intelligence are developing new innovative ways to use data & analytics to better understand and engage customers. Lifestyle based insurance models are being launched like Adventure Adovcates and Givesurance, And some of digital marketing automation’s most innovative new players like Marketo, and even Oracle’s Eloqua are rewriting and enabling a new digital generation of marketing best practices.
Big Data and Analytics – Integrated Strategies for the New “Digital” Insurance Company
The techno buzz says big data and analytics are going to affect every business and every business operation. When you are a data- and analytics-driven industry like insurance that deals with massive amounts of policies and transactions, that buzz isn’t hype, it’s a promise.
The thing about big data and analytics is that when they are used in operational silos, they provide a tactical advantage. But when a common interoperable vision and roadmap are established, analytics create a huge strategic advantage. That knowledge and the capability to act on it is built into the DNA of “born digital” entries into the insurance market like Google.
The number of companies working on big data and analytics within the valley is staggering. We have already discussed a few in the Customer Engagement section above. Here are a few more, In the area of risk: RMS is building its stable of talent in the big data space; Actian is delivering lightning-fast Hadoop analytics; Metabiota is providing epidemic disease threat assessments; and Orbital Insights is providing geo-based image analysis. In the areas of claims and fraud, Palantir, ScoreData, Tyche and SAS are adding powerful capabilities for insurance. Improved operational effectiveness is being delivered by Saama Technology, with an integrated insurance analytics suite; by Prevedere, with data-driven predictive analytics; by Volumetrix, with people analytics; and by Sparkling Logic, which helps drive faster and more effective decision making.
Insurance Digitized | Next Generation Core Systems
With insurance boundaries expanding, integration with digital ecosystems, increasing reliance on analytics and the demand for personalized and contextualized outcome- and services-based insurance models, core systems will have huge new sets of requirements placed on them. The requirement for interoperability between systems and data and analytics will grow dramatically.
Surviving the Tipping Point – Becoming One of the Disruptive Leaders
This is a small sampling of the technologies, trends and companies just within Silicon Valley that are shaping the digital future of insurance. The changes these will drive are massive, and they are only the tip of the iceberg.
An Insurance Tech meetup group open to all the insurance-related companies within Silicon Valley was just announced by Guillaume Cabrere, CEO of AXA Labs, and already has 64 members. For established companies to survive the tipping point and thrive on the other side of it requires more than handing “digital transformation” off to the CIO or marketing team. Success requires a C-Suite that has become an integral part of the community and culture building the digital generation of insurance companies.
For technology companies and next-generation insurance companies, success requires building partnerships with established and emerging players.
This blog series is designed to inform and accelerate that dialog and partnering formation. It will include a series of interviews with disruptive leaders from industry and Silicon Valley. If you or your company would like to be a part of that series, please let me know.
Join us for the next Insurance Disrupted Conference – March 22-23, 2016 l Silicon Valley
ITL readers receive a 15% discount when registering here.
This article is an excerpt from a white paper, “Capturing Hearts, Minds and Market Share: How Connected Insurers Are Improving Customer Retention.”To download it, click here.
Part 1 of this series explained why retention is so much harder these days. This article explains how insurers can solve the problem.
Know Your Customers
Understand values and behaviors of your customers. Start with available data sources. Augment structured data from traditional back-end systems with unstructured data like those collected through call centers and written correspondence. With these data, you can deduce meaningful patterns and behavior-based customer segments.
Enter into active dialogues to establish meaningful relationships. Use social media analytics and conversations via social networks to increase customer touch points. Use the knowledge gained about their wants and needs to sustain intermittent conversation about things that are helpful to the customer.
Build an environment where sharing data creates mutual benefits for customer and insurer. Transparency is key. Create and publicize a “customer data policy” that specifies how and when you will use data shared directly or generated through means such as “big data gathering,” and how customers will benefit. Use shared data to create extra customer value, as detailed in the next section.
Offer customer value
It is no surprise that customer value – that is, the value that a customer derives from the relationship with his or her insurer – drives customer loyalty. In a previous study, we defined customer value as the adequate response to customers’ changing needs. How can insurers translate this to understand which value drivers influence retention?
The fairness zone: The first component of customer value we will discuss is – again – price. For most of our respondents, the absolute level of premiums mattered less than individual perception of price fairness – a too-low price has the same negative effect on loyalty as one that is too high (see Figure 5). This means that a customer to whom the price seems right is two to three times less likely to switch in a given year. The fairness of premiums is also an emotional component that insurers need to get right (and tools like social media analytics can support this).
What is the power of brand? The second value factor we examine is brand. What is the retention value of a good brand? According to our data, it’s less than expected. Only 21% of our respondents name “reputation” as one of the factors that cause them to stay with their chosen insurers. Could brand still be an implicit value driver?
Our recent consumer products industry study, “Brand enthusiasm: More than loyalty,” showed that brand consciousness and brand loyalty are changing, and our data echoes those findings. Only 12% of respondents have a high brand consciousness, and that is the only bracket where it has a strong effect on loyalty in the insurance world (see Figure 6).
This suggests that an extra investment in brand creates limited loyalty returns; a great brand only matters if your customers belong to the few who are brand conscious to begin with. Moving customers to the “high” consciousness bracket might prove difficult to achieve.
So how can insurers, many of whom already have a strong brand, make this work to their advantage? We propose adopting the concept of “brand enthusiasm.” Brand enthusiasm is influenced by the level of customer engagement, which we will explore in the next section, and again leads to the increased emotional involvement with the insurer that we call “heart share.”
Transparency, not complexity
Last but not least, we examined other product-related value drivers. We suspected that the often high complexity of insurance products has a negative effect on loyalty, but our data proved this hypothesis wrong. Although product complexity might be a deterrent to purchase (which was outside the scope of the survey), even those who perceived the product they bought to be highly complex did not show a higher propensity to switch.
In contrast, transparency about the product strongly influences loyalty in a positive way. Transparency leads the customer to understand and be more comfortable with the product (and the insurer) even when it is complex. Seventy percent of respondents who reported that their product understanding was high expressed high loyalty – almost three times as many as those with low product understanding. High transparency leads to rational involvement: the “mind share” in our study title.
What current technology can help insurers promote customer value? To give customers an emotional connection and involvement with a fair price and a transparent product, telematics is ideal. Regarding fairness, customers can see that the rate is based on their personal risk and influenced by their personal actions. Examples include a “pay-how-you drive” auto product or the use of exercise tracking devices in health insurance. Transparency of this sort of auto product is high, and for many telematics offerings, there is an additional fun factor by seeing how well you drove, thus competing against yourself for better driving scores.
Recommendations: Offer value
Support your customers in areas they personally value, even if they are not directly related to your core business. Offer information to your customers in useful areas that are widely related to their coverage: for example, traffic or weather information for auto insurers. Create communities of interest – in social networks or directly hosted by you – to share news, tips and enhance exchange among like-minded individuals and your organization.
Add risk mitigation or prevention into your products and services. Commercial insurers have been doing this for years. Start offering these at the outset of the contract relationship. Later, add tracking via telematics, plus assistance services.
Personalize offerings and provide pick-and-choose product options. Product flexibility starts in the back end. Your application architecture must enable a modular approach to products and services. Build a roadmap for flexibility using industry standards such as IAA. From the front end, add in-depth analytics to flexibly balance the offered options with market needs.
Fully engage your customers across access points
Incumbents at risk
One characteristic of the Millennial customer is the desire for omni-channel shopping for their goods and services. For insurance shoppers, this extends well beyond using traditional insurers – many Millennials are open to using adjacent providers and new entrants into the market (see Figure 7).
In the short run, offerings like Google Compare mainly replace existing aggregators; insurers still cover the actual risk. In the long run, online service providers – given their good customer knowledge across many products and services – could start to accept risk themselves. In this case, customers’ already-stated willingness to switch would become a real threat to incumbents.
In addition, the reason respondents gave for considering those providers should be troubling to insurers: They describe non-traditional providers as faster, more transparent and easier to reach (see Figure 8). To counter this, carriers need to engage with their customers across a broader range of access points than ever before.
The age of mobility
One option is to be more accessible on the go. Ninety-six percent of our respondents own some form of mobile device, most often smartphones (owned by 82 percent of respondents) and tablets (owned by 49 percent); they have become commonplace modern accessories throughout the world. Still, only 13 percent of respondents who bought their insurance online, either directly or via an aggregator, used their mobile devices to buy. On the other hand, 29 percent of all respondents stated they would like their insurers to offer an option to buy through a mobile device, and that this would increase their loyalty.
Expanding mobile offerings outside of searching and buying is an instant accessibility increase with potential loyalty gains. The biggest effects would be in submitting claims (42 percent) and in simple communication (43 percent). Many insurers have already invested in apps for claim submission, but again, they seem to be either unknown or too hard to use.
The effect of expanded mobile offerings differs widely by country, with the more empowered customers in developing markets increasing their loyalty more (see Figure 9). Still, given the larger market sizes in mature markets, investment in mobile services are still expected to generate returns.
Connecting everything, everywhere
Looking toward the longer term, insurers will also need to consider investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance customer engagement. A growing number of consumers either own or can imagine owning an Internet-connected device like a refrigerator or a washing machine (56 percent of millennials, 36 percent of boomers).
Currently, only a small percentage of customers told us they would be comfortable with insurers using the data from these devices (21 percent of millennials, 15 percent of boomers.) Still, for those respondents, the greater accessibility and convenience of the IoT would lead to an increase in loyalty. Insurers can make use of the IoT if they sell it right: with high transparency regarding how the data is used (and not used).
Recommendations: Fully engage
Embrace mobile to enable constant access for your customers. For your main set of lines of business, envision “customer journey maps.” These maps document the typical steps a customer must take during the provider relationship, from needs discovery through information gathering and purchase, all the way through after-sales services and claims processes. For each step, identify interaction options to generate a complete picture of potential mobile touch points.
Support decision making throughout each step of the sales process at the convenience of your customers. Create one unified front end for the customer, whether they come in through an agent, call center, the Internet or mobile devices. Make customer data and product information equally available at all touch points.
Have information available anytime, anywhere to support instantaneous fulfillment of client requests. Equip tied agents, underwriters, claims adjusters and other fulfillment roles with mobile technology like tablets and other handheld devices. This allows you to abandon a fixed workplace in favor of greater fulfillment flexibility – for example, claims can be adjusted directly on-site.
Ready or not – are you capturing the hearts and minds of your customers?
How are you using your in-house sources of customer knowledge? In what ways are you gathering and adding external information, such as that from social networks? How are you combining internal and external information? How is it used to generate greater customer value and loyalty?
Where and how are you using needs-based or persona-based segmentation approaches? How will you deepen your level of understanding individual customers?
To what degree can your customers pick and choose options from your product portfolio? What is your plan to remove the barriers to further customization?
How do you communicate with your customers? What is your approach to staying abreast of the ways they prefer to communicate, now and in the future?
In what ways are you engaging millennials? And how will you stay updated to address the customers of the future, such as Generation Z and beyond?
This article is an excerpt from a white paper, “Capturing Hearts, Minds and Market Share: How Connected Insurers Are Improving Customer Retention.”To download it, click here.