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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’s a sad day when your local water utility or parking enforcement offers a better mobile or online customer experience than your auto or life insurer. Customers cannot easily quit their local utility or government. They can readily switch their insurance carrier — and customer defection now exceeds 10% (according to J.D. Powers & Associates), awakening CEOs and investors to the need for substantive change.
Consumer markets have changed dramatically. PRNewswire reported in December that 89% of consumers prefer online to in-store shopping. A decade ago, 80% of personal auto policies were placed with an agent, according to McKinsey. Those days are gone. In addition to the alarming rate of customers who have already defected from their insurance carriers, a full 20% of customers are “at risk” of leaving their current carrier, according to J.D. Power & Associates. With the higher costs of acquiring new customers, these trends are expensive and troubling.
Customers have been sending loud and clear messages about their expectations and their willingness to change providers. Customers expect and demand all of the following from their insurers:
Enriched and consistent customer experience
Personalized and painless service
Without all of the above, customers are likely to be dissatisfied and, ultimately, leave. New entrants are making it even easier for consumers to change carriers. In one industry survey of 6,000 insurance customers, nearly one-quarter said they would consider buying insurance from Amazon, Google or another online provider. Moves to online sales and service are accelerating, and new entrants have added a greater sense of urgency to knowing their customers and innovating to better serve them.
Customer loyalty is the key to long-term growth and economic performance for insurers. Bain research shows that the value of a customer who is a loyal promoter of her carrier is worth an average of seven times that of a customer who is a detractor of the carrier and two to three times that of a passive customer. Loyal promoters “stay longer, buy more, recommend the company to friends and family and usually cost less to serve,” according to Bain.
The economic imperative is clear. Insurers are hurrying to transform from product-centric business models to customer-centric business models. Many insurers have made, or are in the process of making, this transformation. Keep reading to discover how and why to jump-start your own digital transformation and evolution from product-centricity to customer-centricity.
The New Normal
Dozens of factors have changed how insurers must sell and service in today’s marketplace. Smart phones, Facebook, telematics and online quotes are only some of the factors. Demands for customer intelligence and customer engagement have never been higher.
The requirements for baseline customer engagement are significant, including integrated and realigned internal technology. The basic technology and data required to support seamless customer experience across channels can also be leveraged to do much more. But, for starters, insurers must implement:
A single view of the customer across silos, including third-party data and attitudes/preferences
Cross-channel interactions and access via more channels
Customized, personalized content
Continuous technological improvement
Enterprise-wide, comprehensive customer intelligence is the baseline. Gartner reported in August 2014 that insurers are most underinvested in data initiatives targeting customer intelligence (57% of survey respondents indicated that customer intelligence was the area most in need of greater budget). Most insurers continue to lack a single view of their customer — the major prerequisite to customer intelligence. Without the single, 360-degree customer view, insurers are ineffective at generating better service, segmenting, profitability and loyalty.
Achieving a complete and reliable enterprise-wide view of a customer is only the first step. The real business opportunities emerge when you synch your enterprise view with the 360-degree online and social media view of your customer or prospect.
Prerequisite: The 360-degree View
Insurance CEOs agree that data and analytics will be the backbone of the transformation required in their industry, with 86% telling Gartner that this is one of their top priorities. The first application for data and analytics in customer intelligence is a single view of the customer. Yet it is estimated that only 25% of carriers have a single customer view.
The 360-degree view is essential for improving both bottom-line and top-line performance. Reliable, unified customer views enable major gains in customer service (retention) and marketing effectiveness (cross-sell and upsell), not to mention claims and fraud. The consumer 360 was the backbone and first step one insurer took to drive cross-sales revenue. This large insurance and financial services firm was able to quantify marketing effectiveness and audience behavior, enabling the company to make informed tactical decisions that ensure more efficient marketing spending.
In this case, the development and implementation of closed-loop marketing analytics across key enterprise business units, utilizing predictive models, segmentation algorithms, churn analysis, modeling and funnel analysis, delivered the ability to continuously analyze and understand data from more than 25 million customers and prospects every week. With 360-degree customer views, insights can be delivered from data that allow this insurer to clearly see how enterprise marketing efforts can improve cross-sell and boost revenues.
Once an insurer has a reliable customer view, the work of improving customer experience and satisfaction can begin. Consumers value personalized experience. Two-thirds of consumers are more likely to trust and engage with brands that allow them to customize and share personalization and contact preferences. More than half of consumers feel more positive about a brand when messages are personalized. According to Harris Interactive, 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% four years ago. That statistic should serve as a wake-up call to invest in personalization — the key to enhancing consumer engagement.
Implementing advanced consumer engagement (ACE) via a variety of data management and analytic strategies and solutions, there are five key elements of personalization:
Profile-based: Move from generalized segmentation to personalization customer demographics, providing a “segment of one.”
Behavior-based: Determine customer affinity through individualized understanding of customer insights coming from interactions, enterprise assets, dark enterprise assets and external assets, not just observations. Use these assets and customers’ behaviors to truly understand your customer and drive personalization.
Collaboration-based: Customization should extend to integration with relevant tools, relationships and touch points (including experiential).
Adaptive: Personalization features should leverage explicit consumer feedback as well as implicit feedback from closed-loop consumer responses and be flexible to changing behaviors and attitudes.
Channel-optimized: Identify and personalize combinations of markets, segments and media tactics to adjust integrated marketing efforts to optimize market-specific channel effectiveness.
The following guidelines will also help ensure success, when embarking on an advanced consumer engagement (ACE) program:
Choose platforms that will allow you to grow by scaling hardware, rather than doing costly rewrites. Assume that your next step is market domination. This allows the enterprise to focus on innovative customer experiences rather than performance tuning.
Invest in architecture and standards that enable agility. Solutions should be as simple as possible.
Quality should always trump quantity, when it comes to data. Value your data by focusing on core data-quality issues, first. Information will always be more valuable to your consumers than data. Reliable information comes from quality data in context.
Position your ACE program to engage with consumers and quickly adapt to consumer feedback. Build in processes to show you value consumer feedback. Provide updates and enhancements quickly in smaller releases, continually enhancing the customer experience. By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, according to Gartner. There is plenty of room for improvement via quick iteration, especially in the realm of customer self-service.
Seek partners who specialize in applying a data and analytics mindset to customer engagement.
With ACE and robust data and analytics, the options for business optimization and growth are practically limitless. Three main areas for insurers to make strides in are cost management, customer acquisition and retention and new products/pricing.
With baseline programs in place (360-degree customer views and personalization), digital- and data-mature insurers can make significant gains in cost management. For starters, satisfied and loyal customers cost less to serve. Technology is a critical component of cost management, segmentation and customized pricing goals. Let’s start with cost management.
Digitally mature insurers can improve customer acquisition by leveraging segment differences uncovered from a new wealth of customer intelligence. Opportunities are exposed by consumer analytics and competitor information gleaned from internal and external data sources. Real-time consumer and competitor data can be a goldmine for uncovering segment opportunities.
McKinsey has reported that while the motivation for insurance companies to invest in analytics has never been greater, firms should not underestimate the challenge of capturing business value.
New Products and Pricing
Real-time and third-party information is increasingly having an impact on pricing. Only insurers with robust customer and competitor data and analytics can take advantage of this. Insurers with ACE across multiple channels are best poised to exploit opportunities for new products and customized pricing to drive business growth.
An enterprise-wide, validated, timely view of all consumer interactions with the enterprise (from structured, semi and un-structured data) composes the first 360. Integrating this internal view with the consumer’s relevant online interactions adds another 360 degrees and far more data and touch points for influencing consumer behavior. Online is where buying decisions are being influenced and, often, made. Do you know which brands your consumer‘s friends are touting or bashing online? Can you predict a spike in demand or a specialty product, before your competitors? Developing a full 720-degree view of consumers is the next level of advanced consumer engagement.
Imagine having the ability to tap into customer behavior with the help of a self-teaching solution that continues to learn over time with each customer interaction, enriching each profile. This is the reality of today, supporting a comprehensive platform for consumer identification, attribute enrichment and engagement that enables personalized consumer conversations that evolve and improve throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. The ability to develop new products that can be delivered to consumers who want them, through their preferred channel, at a lower cost, is here today.