August 13, 2020
Why COVID-19 Must Accelerate Change
According to a survey, insurers are 50% behind consumer demand for service via online chat and 25% behind on service via website.
While the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn have prompted consumers to curb their spending, consumers are increasingly mindful of risk and therefore more inclined to purchase insurance.
A recent survey conducted by Lightico and Sapiens found that a fifth of consumers are exploring purchasing new auto, home and life insurance products amid the pandemic. Those directly affected by the coronavirus – meaning they or someone they knew tested positive – were even more likely to be considering more spending on insurance products. These consumers were 2.3 times as likely to plan on spending more on property and life insurance and 1.8 times as likely to say they would spend more on healthcare and health insurance.
Given that nearly half of consumers in the survey reported that their incomes had plunged by at least 20% since the pandemic started, those figures are remarkable – but for insurers to truly meet the needs of these consumers and stand out from the competition, they must deliver streamlined digital experiences, powered by strong core systems.
Here’s what today’s consumers expect from insurers, and what insurers can do to provide the quality digital journeys that customers crave:
See also: Strategic Planning in the COVID-19 Era
Living in a Digital World
Long before the novel coronavirus outbreak began, consumers were living in a world digitally transformed. Thanks to innovations in e-commerce, content streaming, mobility and beyond, people now enjoy rapid access to consumer goods, groceries, movies, music, car services and much more, all available at their fingertips.
After months of widespread remote work, millions more now have first-hand experience with a virtually overnight shift in workflows, collaboration and company culture, enabled by innovations in cloud computing, information technology and business software.
Not surprisingly, 68% of consumers surveyed in the Lightico-Sapiens study indicated that they expect businesses, including insurers, to enhance their capabilities for serving customers remotely. When it comes to purchasing new products and policies, today’s consumers have little patience for analog practices: Three in five consumers surveyed said that they now have less patience for filling out and sending paperwork, and 51% had already e-signed documents within the previous month.
What Insurers and Carriers Should Do
How satisfied are consumers with insurers’ track record of meeting their expectations for seamless digital experiences? In key areas, insurers are falling well short. According to the survey, insurers are 50% behind consumer demand for online chat servicing and 25% behind demand for website servicing.
The takeaway? While it’s vital for insurers to digitize their business processes and strengthen their core systems, these steps alone won’t suffice to meet the market’s needs. Ramping up online communication capabilities is an absolute must, and insurers can boost the effectiveness of that outreach by getting smart about data.
Robust customer data collection – supported by efficient core systems – yields critical insights for understanding customer behavior, diversifying product offerings and unlocking revenue opportunities. This is especially important amid the pandemic, with the public set to continue practicing some degree of social distancing for the foreseeable future and predictions that COVID-19 will permanently alter consumer behavior.
Accenture consultancy points to much greater use of digital commerce as one of the most consequential of these changes. While face-to-face sales and customer interactions aren’t going the way of the dinosaurs, insurers seeking to thrive in this new normal must make room for a more prominent role for AI-powered chatbots, personalization and cloud-powered services. Each of these is only possible with a granular understanding of how customers behave, what they want and how insurers can make their offerings meet customers’ needs and expectations.
Necessity, the pandemic has harshly reminded the world, is the mother of invention. For insurers, the crisis has driven home the reality that innovation is a fundamental matter of survival. Through creative partnerships, investments in technology and a commitment to improving customer service, insurers and carriers will propel lasting industry changes and position themselves to meet evolving consumer demands.