Tag Archives: Tara Kelly

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.

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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.

How to Win the ‘Micro-Moment’

The P&C insurers that will win in our increasingly data-driven market are the companies that embrace the possibilities of technology and are able to own the “micro-moment”: Companies that reach consumers when they are making decisions and forming preferences will be ahead of the curve.

Communication technology now makes it possible for insurers to reach out to customers using automated voice, text, social media, email and other platforms. For example, when catastrophe looms, such as a major weather event, insurance companies have a great opportunity to protect policyholders and minimize losses by contacting customers.

This is not only good for the bottom line, because it avoids losses; it’s a great way to deliver an exceptional customer experience, which confers a competitive advantage. Insurance company executives instinctively see the value of using personalized communication to build loyalty and strengthen relationships. But not all companies are fully ready to take advantage of the possibilities of a closer connection with customers.

See Also: Data Science: Methods Matter

Executives worry about the quality and accuracy of the data they have on hand. That’s because many insurance companies only contact customers when processing a claim or following up on a late payment. Some use these opportunities to update their customer data, but since records verification only happens around transactions, a sizable portion of the company’s customer information is always outdated, and that can stymie efforts to own the micro-moment.

Take the connected catastrophe scenario, for example — because much of the customer base is always connected and has higher expectations around personalized communication than ever before, it makes sense to conduct customer outreach when a catastrophe is likely. By reaching out to customers, companies can contribute to customer safety, reduce losses and strengthen relationships.

A P&C company, with an insured population in the path of a hurricane or wildfire, might reach out via automated voice message, text, social media (e.g., Facebook or Twitter) or email to alert customers of the danger, provide advice on documenting insured property and inform customers on how to file claims once the event is over. The P&C company might also identify the location of mobile service centers.

The message this type of initiative sends to customers is unmistakable: The company is looking out for the customer and stands ready to assist during a tough time. And with modern communication technology, companies can implement a system capable of managing affordably customer outreach across multiple platforms, using automation to handle most of the workload.

Another issue is that many P&C companies don’t make a practice of asking for permission to contact customers or recording customer communication preferences. In addition to up-to-date contact information (including landline and mobile numbers), companies need to request communication preferences, such as whether the subscriber prefers to be contacted by voice, text or tweet.

Getting P&C company databases where they need to be to conduct widespread customer outreach in a personalized manner that respects customer communication preferences will take a large-scale data scrubbing effort at most companies. It can be conducted in-house if the insurer has sufficient resources to tackle such a project, or the company can choose to hire a third-party vendor.

When P&C insurers have the clean data they need, they can contact policyholders to help keep them safe, but that’s just the beginning. With clean data and the ability to automate communications using customer preferences, companies can reach out to customers about changing coverage needs, inquire about policy lapses, address late payments and much more.

The first step in fostering closer relationships with customers via personalized communication is making sure the information on hand is clean — data that has been verified as accurate. With clean data, forward-thinking insurance company leaders can ensure that consumer demand for greater personalization is met and that their company thrives in an increasingly data-driven economy.