Tag Archives: personalization

COVID and Power of Personal Connections

We are at a moment in history when businesses in all sectors are rapidly reworking how they interact with customers, to see how they can remain a valuable part of people’s lives as so much is changing. The pandemic has accelerated these changes, of course. In its massive disruption of daily life, shaking people and societies out of familiar routines and forcing new ways of pursuing their professional and personal interests, COVID-19 has created a new space for changes in behavior.

The insurance industry — long known for offering peace of mind, stability and trust — is adapting. In fact, the insurance industry is expected to spend nearly $28 billion annually on customer experience solutions. But many people still lack trust in insurers. Fewer than half of those surveyed in EIS Group’s Customer Compass Report say they trust insurers to respond to their basic needs. That is troubling and should be a wake-up call.

Now is the time for insurers to check their headings and set new courses to gain the trust and satisfaction of customers. To start, insurance companies must focus on adjusting two major components found throughout the customer journey — customer experience and personalization.

Customer experience and personalization — which have been predominant concerns in retail for some years — are now only second and third to price when it comes to main reasons why people might switch insurers, according to the Customer Compass Report. A full 28% of policyholders stated that poor customer experience is a “main reason” for leaving a provider, and 20% cited lack of personalization. Getting experience and personalization right is no longer a “nice to have” for insurance providers; it is quickly becoming a crucial element of what insurers offer to customers.

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, opportunities abound. Fitness trackers, for instance, help their users with real-time insight into their health and activity — but the same data can be fed into a health or life insurance product to provide personal rewards and discounts. A few insurers, including John Hancock with its Vitality program, have been successful with this model. Similar approaches are relevant for automotive insurance, rewarding users when they avoid risky activities or drive responsibly, while giving them options for more extensive insurance if that’s what is appropriate for their lifestyle and behavior. 54% of consumers indicated they would consider car insurance they would pay for only when they drive. 60% would consider car insurance that costs less if they drive at low-risk times of the day.

See also: How Insurers Are Making Connections

Customers can be offered multiple ways of communicating, including email, self-serve interfaces and automated chatbots as well as phone and instant messaging. However, consumers have astonishingly low expectations of insurers — only 23% expect insurers to integrate their experience across mobile, web and in-person channels.

For a truly satisfying customer experience, insurers need to ensure that customers can move seamlessly between those channels as they wish. As an example, a buyer might receive some initial information about an insurance offer via email, then use a messaging app to get further details in a conversation facilitated by a chatbot. A web form would then be pre-populated with the information from that chatbot conversation, and a quote sent. At the same time, a call center would be available where a representative can see an overview of progress, if the buyer has any final questions before completing the purchase. While this example may seem commonplace for many consumer buying cycles, it is not for insurance buyers.

One truth of the digital economy is that people are willing to research and assess which products are right for them. But they are also interested in simplicity and want a “one-stop shop” for products that meet their specific needs. With data and tech accelerating faster every day due to the pandemic, insurers must embrace the challenge and seek all the potential opportunities that can improve customers’ lives.

It’s Time to End Appeals Based on Fear

Consumer attitudes toward the insurance industry are changing faster than ever. Millennials make up the most populous generation today, and with many of them entering their mid- and late thirties, they are shopping for insurance in higher numbers. This tech-savvy generation expects personalized services and demands greater control over their experiences and decisions. Millennial consumers are calling the shots in almost every B2C industry – and insurance is no exception.

The insurance industry traditionally relied on the fear of the unknown as its most powerful sales enabler, but with millennials making decisions based on brand experience, insurers need to turn to emerging technologies to transform and customize the way they reach customers. The status quo is simply unsustainable if they want growth. Forward-looking insurers know that the key to attracting and retaining clients is to leverage predictive technology and provide them with the seamless, smart, digital-first experience they need.

But for this future to become a reality, companies need to implement and use predictive analytics in a way that truly enhances the customer experience. Here are the steps every insurer needs to know before embarking on that journey:

Collect the Right – Not the Most – Data

Knowing the ins and outs of customer needs and behaviors is essential in operating an insurance business, but it is not enough to know the general needs of a customer base. In fact, the majority of consumers are willing to share personal information in exchange for added benefits like enhanced risk protection, risk avoidance or bundled pricing. To deliver personalized service, insurers must collect data at the individual level – and quantity does not always mean quality. The accuracy of predictive analytics relies on the certainty and relevancy of the data those systems are fed. Before doing anything else, insurers must determine exactly what information drives business decisions and collect that data on both individual and grand scale as efficiently as possible.

See also: 3 Ways to Optimize Predictive Analytics  

This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) steps in. As one of the most ground-breaking technologies on the market today, IoT has only just begun to realize its potential in the insurance industry. IoT sensors attached to infrastructure, cars, homes and other insurable items, can feed real-time data back to providers with unprecedented accuracy. Not only does this live feed of data prevent emergencies by identifying potential problems before they arise, the highly precise information acts as a foundation for analytics at a customer-specific level in the next phase of the process.

Get Personal With Predictions

Once insurers are collecting relevant, accurate and individualized data, the next step on the road to customer satisfaction is applying machine learning and AI to that information. The outcomes of this analysis not only determine truths about the current status of an asset or situation but reveal patterns that enable insurance companies to predict what is in store down the road. For an insurer, this predictive knowledge means more accurately being able to evaluate, price and plan for risk – whether evaluating individual portfolios or aggregating data to foresee larger trends in the marketplace.

But as predictive technology becomes more mainstream, the true value of digital foresight will be its ability to offer the millennial customers the deep personalization and hyper-relevance they crave and expect from all their services. By transforming the industry into a predictive and even preventative experience, insurance companies are changing the status quo of fear-based customer relationships and instead leverage technology to make insurance feel tailored and assuring.

Engage With Emerging Technology

The insurance industry is not and never will be based on static, one-time decisions. As risk is calculated on various constantly changing variables, it is essential to continue evolving customer predictions, recommendations and prices based on incoming information. Analyzing both existing and new data from IoT sensors allows companies to pivot strategies in the face of new predictions, enhance underwriting, reduce claim ratio and remain agile to meet the needs of their customers today and tomorrow.

See also: What Comes After Predictive Analytics  

Just as predictions do not stand still, neither should an insurance company’s methods for determining them. In an era of hyper customer relevance, with disruptive players like Uber, Venmo and Mint, millennials have come to expect services that are not only predictive but get deeply personalized in accuracy and usability overtime. The insurance industry has traditionally lagged behind other B2C industries in terms of adoption, however, due to its changing customer base it will have no other choice than to evolve rapidly over the next few years. Placing emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, automation and IoT at the core of business operations now will be key in setting insurance up for continued progression in the future.

Appealing to the new generation of insurance customer is all about offering tailored experiences that cater to their needs and expectations. The insurance industry is in for an acceleration of change to accommodate their new millennial consumer – a change fueled by technology that creates bonds of loyalty and trust via personalization, not fear.

Auto Insurers: Stand Out in the Crowd

The next wave of innovation is sweeping the insurance industry as customers look for more personalization from their insurers. As policy needs and driving behaviors vary from customer to customer, there is no single perfect package. Customers demand personal treatment, and technology gives insurance providers the opportunity to follow suit. But, the more companies that move toward personalization, the more difficult it will be to stand out.

Just weeks ago, Root Insurance – a startup that offers customers a personalized auto insurance experience – sped up this transition with its latest round of funding and a $1 billion valuation. This heavy investment in behavior-based insurance (BBI), or rating consumers on their driving performance rather than factors like zip code or credit score, certainly won’t be the last. Other small startup insurance companies offer their customers a more tailored and personalized plan, as well. But will these smaller companies lead the industry into broadly applied personalized insurance models? Or, will major insurance companies with large-scale credibility and longtime reputation come to the forefront? Smartphone telematics, big data, and AI-powered analytics enable legacy companies with an extensive outreach to truly disrupt the industry. These longtime players can offer the personalized experience as well as the credibility and resources to shift the entire insurance landscape in a new, digital direction.

See also: How to Extend Reach of Auto Insurance  

A personalized experience with a reputation customers trust

As we’ve seen extensively in e-commerce and marketing industries, customers have come to expect brands to know their habits and to adapt purchasing and engagement experiences to fit their personal preferences. While it is a relatively new trend for the auto insurance industry, it will continue to grow over time.

Customers do not want to be treated as a statistic any more, with their premiums based on credit score or geographic location alone. In fact, 73% of drivers surveyed said that they’d prefer insurance rates be based on their driving behaviors. Smartphone telematics solutions allow insurers to easily receive customer data that provides insight on an individual’s driving habits and performance, providing the necessary information to more accurately stratify risk and deliver more personalized, regular consumer touchpoints and – in some cases – behavior-based rates.

Out of the 10 largest U.S. insurance providers, nine claim to be, at the very least, testing forms of smartphone-based telematics programs. The various use cases include building better risk and pricing models, offering behavior-based discounts and rewards and providing feedback and gamification to motivate customers to become better drivers. Not only do these use cases benefit the customer, but also the insurance provider.

In the auto insurance industry where the top three providers make up 41% of the market, and the top 10 take 72%, there needs to be a clear differentiator for companies to win more business, retain top customers and establish themselves as leaders. Smartphone telematics is one way major insurers can differentiate themselves in consumers’ eyes. Better pricing and longer-term improvements in driver behavior will drive higher retention and new business while accident detection, faster claims and higher levels of positive customer engagement will enable them to take on a leadership role.

See also: Will Technology Kill Auto Insurance?  

Many new startups are basing their platforms on providing customers with a tailored experience, but the top insurance companies have the most power to affect change in a congested, commoditized environment. The future is promising with the growing popularity of smartphone telematics, enhancement of IoT solutions and our ability to glean insights on personal driving behaviors from large quantities of data. These technologies and capabilities have the power to further advance personalized insurance experiences and help insurers increase profitability. The insurer that embraces the end-to-end technological innovations available will be the ultimate standout, creating a customer experience that is seamless, efficient and human.

3 Types of Data for Personalization

In the modern insurance world, personalization is about more than modifying content to match consumer profiles. It’s about meeting consumers’ needs more effectively, making interactions easier and increasing overall satisfaction.

Remember, the consumer experience is a funnel, and personalization can be applied to each touch-point in the funnel. Personalize all platforms of interaction: in person, mail, phone calls, email, website and mobile.

See also: The Case for Personalization  

When it comes to insurance, consumers want the process to be easy. Your use of personalization should align with that belief. Personalized service is important to consumers, and according to one study, 80% of insurance customers are looking for personalized offers, messages, pricing and recommendations from their auto, home or life insurance providers. Give your consumers what they’re looking for.

The 3 Types of Data You Need for Personalization:

With the Internet of Things, the majority of consumer touch-points are now digital. Use the available data to help improve your personalization techniques.

  • Demographics: Leverage the consumer data you have—age, gender, location, platform preference (mobile, email, by mail, only digital), expressed interests—to better meet your customers’ needs. Asking consumers to repeat or re-enter information that they’ve already shared shows them that you don’t care. Know their demographics to show that you do.
  • Past Contact: What is the consumer’s history with you? Use the historical data to your advantage. A record of contact with the customer is necessary and can greatly inform all future contact. Recall their previous experiences to better understand and meet their current needs.
  • Present Context: Consider the present context data for personalization. What type of device is the consumer using? Which browser is she searching on? For what reason is he contacting you? This can inform the method of personalization used to better meet their needs effectively.

Personalization in Action

Depending on your sector within the insurance industry, your method of personalization may differ. An insurance company may use personalization in a slightly different manner than independent agents do.

Here are some personalization methods that put the three types of data mentioned above to use. Amend these methods to fit your sector and help improve the consumer experience.

  • Contextualize language, images or graphics based on the consumer’s location in emails, mailing materials and in-app offers. Using an image of the consumer’s city or a well-known landmark can help show that you are aware of who your consumers are. Using language that matches your consumer’s demographics and is relevant to his age, location, occupation or needs will also be more useful to him. You can always A/B test to see which method resonates best.
  • Refer to previous contact in current interactions. For example, an agent could say: “The last time we spoke was in November. Are you still the primary driver for your Nissan Altima?” Or a home insurer could send a follow-up email to ask how the home repairs went after a filed claim.
  • Personalize email headers or content in reference to local events or happenings in the consumer’s location.
  • Offer helpful, relevant information. Insurance apps may offer driving routes, roadside assistance and real-time weather reports or warnings. Similarly, agents can send email updates warning of a coming snowstorm or local incident that may affect their customers. Telematics companies could send home or car maintenance tips, reminding customers that it may be time to check their smoke detector batteries or get an oil change.
  • Personalize offers to customer interests. If the consumer travels a lot, she may want to know more about rental car insurance or travel insurance. If a driver has had several recent accident claims, an agent could recommend technologies or courses to help improve skills and cut costs.

See also: 5 Stages on Journey to Personalized Insurance  

Why Does Personalization Work?

Personalization works because it’s relevant. When relevant information is provided, it meets consumers’ needs more effectively and efficiently. Relevant information speed interactions and improves consumer satisfaction. Every interaction with a consumer is not a singular event, but part of a collective path. With the growth of the Internet of Things, insurance is becoming more personalized and tailored to each consumer. Use the available data to deliver the right promotion, content and service to meet your consumers’ needs.

The Case for Personalization

The relationship between the insured and the insurance company isn’t just business — it’s also personal. It’s important for insurance companies to be there when customers need them the most, but, over the past decade, “there” has been redefined, and too many insurance companies haven’t adjusted.

See also: 5 Personal Traits of Great Leaders  

Consumers today communicate on a variety of platforms, including: online, mobile, email and social media. Insurance company leaders who want to gain a competitive advantage must monitor shifting communication patterns and adjust their outreach strategies so they can be where their customers are.

Insurance companies need data — both large and small. Big data has become an increasingly central component of modern business operations across all sectors, including the insurance industry. But insurance company leaders who want to implement a visionary approach and build a closer relationship with customers should think beyond the typical use cases, such as using big data to detect fraud. They need to consider “small data,” too — such as using social media and SMS contact information to build relationships.

That’s a tall order for insurance companies, which typically don’t have that type of contact information in customer files and often struggle to maintain accurate phone numbers and addresses because many insurers only interact with customers when it’s time to process a claim or add a family member to a policy. But to truly modernize their approach to customer service, and make it more immediate and personal, insurance companies have to bridge the information gap, clean up existing data and secure the additional contact information they’ll need to reach customers where they are.

Insurers will also need to ask customers about their communication preferences and obtain consent for future contact early in the customer journey and relationship lifecycle — or as soon as possible for their existing customer base. Insurers can analyze the communication channels available to customers and ask customers which platforms they prefer, then abide by the customers’ stated preferences. In this way, insurers are implicitly demonstrating that they respect their customers.

See also: Personal Effectiveness – The Continuing Challenge  

But following this strategy is much more than just a sign of respect or a signal that the company is tech-savvy. It opens up possibilities for relationship-building through technology. For example by using a secure, compliant platform that integrates data from multiple sources — and automates messaging via voice, text or email — insurance companies can engage in proactive communication, such as sending out alerts when a weather event threatens a customer’s area. And by integrating data from connected home products, like sensors in smoke detectors and appliances that connect to the Internet of Things (IoT), insurers can communicate with customers and their preferred providers to alert them of issues, as they arise, reducing property damage.

A personalized approach like this not only reduces risk for both insurer and insured, it builds trust. As insurers create new lines of communication with customers, insurers can become an important part of the customer’s support network — truly looking out for the customer.

The technology to make it happen exists today. All it takes to put data to work for a higher purpose is the vision to change the way the company communicates and make it more immediate and human. Because with insurance, it’s not just business — it’s personal.