New technologies. New players. New products. New business models. The clamor of disruption is loud in our ears, but seeing a clear path for adapting to change and implementing new technologies to support change is hard. In their urgency, are insurers force-fitting disruption on old operating models and systems?
Last week I had the pleasure of joining my industry colleagues at the LIMRA 2016 Enrollment Technology Strategy Seminar in Charlotte, NC. We spent a fun evening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame which also presented me with an interesting juxtaposition because NASCAR is a sport based on speed, strategy and serious horsepower, yet our industry has been stuck behind the pace car for quite some time.
Who is the current pacesetter? It’s the majority of group benefits insurers with legacy systems that lack the horsepower necessary for their business to move up in the field.
Technology can be both a tool and a tyrant, and the theme of this week’s Insurance-Canada Technology Conference—Technology: A Two-Edged Sword—depicted that reality. If designed, implemented, or used incorrectly, technology can divide and weaken rather than unite and strengthen an insurer’s position in the market. Recognition of this fact is increasing as evidenced in the many conversations that took place at the conference reflecting the need for more unified organizations and unified technology to support them. And the key driving force? The customer.
You and I, and the brotherhood of all consumers, enter 2016 firmly in control of our buying destinies. Since Forrester announced it was the ‘age of the customer’ in 2011, our rise has been meteoric. We are a force awakened; our expectations are high and we are emboldened by our new disruptive power.
You got the email. “We need to improve our customer experience. Our conversion and retention numbers are down. What can you do?” In fact, you got several emails and briefings from marketing and line-of-business leaders, and you were copied on a complaint from a key producer citing frustrated policyholders. You know what it will take, but how do you explain in a simple and concise way to peers that it will entail a whole new level of integration between your sales, marketing, and core systems?
Like the lives of so many celebrities and reality show families, whose relationships and daily interactions are splashed across our screens, insurers’ views of their customers present the same frustrating dilemma: sometimes they want to reach into the customers’ world and try to help influence decisions. But just like on TV, it seems today’s insurers can look, but aren’t actually touching their customers. True customer engagement continues to evade even the savviest of carriers.
My role at EIS Group allows me to attend a lot of industry events throughout the year. Most are focused on technology, innovation, and change, but only a select few deliver the level of value provided by the annual SMA Summit.
I left this year’s Summit with new insights and ideas, so I am sharing my “top 7 takeaways” in this blog.
This year’s Toronto ICTC event was ablaze with early spring optimism as the snow melted outside. The Insurance-Canada.ca team put together a very forward-thinking agenda with the theme of “The Digital Customer Experience.” It brought to town insurance experts and executives ready to explore a broad array of trend topics from geospatial risk management, cyber risk, social data analysis, and telematics to connected home, connected car, and omnichannel solutions.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”―Maya Angelou
“Customer intimacy” might be the latest catchphrase in customer experience, but I wonder how policyholders really feel about being more intimate with their insurance company. How close do they really want to be? If customer intimacy provides a feeling of comfort, of being taken care of, of being treated consistently—as a numero uno—then I suspect most policyholders would fully embrace the concept. And if the carrier can truly deliver on that promise, then you basically have a match made in heaven. Indeed, loyal customers have up to three times the net promoter value of passive customers.
Remember when the model for engaging with consumers was as simple as sending out enrollers with disconnected laptops and that was considered high tech? How times have changed. It's now a consumer-centric environment where consumers expect to choose how, where and when to interact. In a consumer-centric environment expectations run high, the long term success rate of group-based carriers and voluntary insurers depends on the ability to interact in an omnichannel environment – a bar set particularly high by the retail industry. The fact is, given the sheer range of channel options and product choices that exist in the marketplace today, insurers have a tremendous opportunity to build a strong connection with consumers.