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May 26, 2021

The Finish Line Keeps Moving

Summary:

Improving customer experience in P&C was already a marathon--now, the pandemic and other events have changed the race in significant ways.

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Much has been written, and much has been done in the past decade regarding the customer experience in P&C. Progress has been made in understanding customer needs and journeys, implementing digital solutions for mobile and self-service capabilities and improving interactions with agents and policyholders. However, anyone involved in strategies and improving the CX in P&C is likely to admit that the industry is still in the earlier stages of the journey. It is clearly a marathon, not a short term, once-and-done project. But now, as a result of the pandemic and the momentous events of the last year, the race has changed.

A new SMA research report, Customer Experience in P&C: Transformation in the Pandemic Era, assesses the journey of P&C insurers. Companies covering the personal lines, small commercial and mid/large commercial market segments are profiled based on a survey of executives and SMA’s analysis of customer experience projects with insurers.

About one-quarter to one-third of insurers are in broader rollouts of customer experience strategies, with the personal lines segment being the most mature. There is a correlation between the status and maturity of CX officers and the level of overall segment maturity. There are two categories of CX-related projects that are vital to track: those that are strategy/organizational in nature and those that are oriented around technology capabilities. For example, flipping the lens from a customer service to a customer experience orientation and establishing a customer-centric culture are the top two project areas, signaling a recognition that these are foundational elements of a good CX strategy.

See also: Lessons on Reaching Customers Remotely

The project plans recognize the change that is underway. While it may be hyperbole to say the pandemic changed everything, the pandemic and all that it has entailed altered customer expectations and caused insurers to rethink and reprioritize plans. The short-term focus has been on enabling and improving self-service, digital payments and digital intake for both sales and service. Improvements will continue, but, in the meantime, P&C insurers have been taking stock of their customer experience journey – and this is where they are running a marathon. What once was movement at a steady pace has now taken on steadily increasing momentum. Virtually every insurer is accelerating digital transformation, and customer experience is an important element.

However, now that the expectations of agents and policyholders have risen, the finish line for the marathon has been pushed out. It is not as if there was ever a firm finish line where a company could claim it was “done” with customer experience. But the race is now taking some new turns, will require adaptability and may require a longer sustained effort to remain competitive.

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About the Author

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action, which helps insurers develop and validate their IT strategies and plans, better understand how their investments measure up in today’s highly competitive environment and gain clarity on solution options and vendor selection.

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