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Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships

In the company's first earnings call of the year, Allstate CEO Tom Wilson outlined an ambitious, aggressive technology strategy.

Under the stewardship of EVP of Technology and Operations Suren Gupta (a 2013 Insurance & Technology Elite 8 honoree), Allstate has been aggressively incorporating new technology across all its business units. In the company's first earnings call of 2014, CEO Tom Wilson indicated that strategy is likely to continue as Allstate looks to have a closer relationship with its customers.

"We'll work on streamlining our technology to deliver faster, more effective customer service, to building long-term growth platforms and become a more integral part of our customer's lives," Wilson said. "The evolution of telematics and the connected customer mean there are structural and technological changes that provide opportunities for growth for us."

Wilson also weighed in on the success of Esurance's Super Bowl Twitter campaign, which kept the insurer adding followers through the week until the big reveal of its contest winner on the Wednesday, February 5 Jimmy Kimmel Live. Wilson said that Allstate's strategy regarding Esurance has been to firmly establish it as the go-to brand for the insurance buyer who wants self-service above all else. That's why, he noted, the company's tagline has changed from "People when you want it, technology when you don't" to "Insurance for the modern world."

"We've wanted to strengthen brand by endorsing it with Allstate, not competing with Allstate," he said. "What I like in particular is the credit the team is getting for the campaign is extremely consistent with what the brand stands for."

All in all, "the types of services, information and relationship we have with customers will be stronger and more valuable in the next five years," Wilson concluded. That will show itself in the evolution of its telematics program, DriveWise, he added: "Our offering is meant to enhance the customer value proposition."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2014 | 9:00:44 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
Right Gă÷ I thought I included the quote where he indicated as such, but apparently it's marooned in my notes. He talked about adding value and building a customer relationship through telematics. Definitely more than just a pricing play.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2014 | 8:59:46 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
Right, they are very focused on their four quadrant approach to the different kinds of customers they serve and clearly they are excited by the potential Esurance shows and the customer it attracts.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
2/13/2014 | 3:13:32 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
I don't know that I would call that a problem per se -- since filing a claim usually relates to an unhappy situation (illness, accident, home damage, death), it's not like anyone wants those to be frequent situations. However, as noted these are critical "moments of truth" where an insurer's ability to deliver and create a positive experience under tough circumstances is critical. I suspect this also is part of the strategy behind marketing campaigns behind Geico's blanketed pig, Flo, Mayhem, State Farm guy in khakis, etc. -- personalize these companies and make them seem accessible & compensate for the lack of ongoing interactions/familiarity. Of course, as we've seen with many firms, that can backfire if the moment of truth is handled clumsily.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
2/12/2014 | 4:52:47 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
There are definitely fewer customer interactions in insurance compared to banking. Though it's the nature of the industry, it does pose a challenge to insurers. They really have to make sure that each interaction leaves a positive impression on the customer, which they can do with the right technology.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
2/12/2014 | 2:49:54 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
This has long been the problem in the insurance space. The amount of interactions with a customer are far less in the insurance industry than in banking. Self service is definitely important, but customers will only interact with their insurance company once or twice a year.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 3:57:07 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
Absolutely - any company (financial services and others) that wants to deliver optimal customer service has to have a strong digital channel. A bit late, but it looks like Allstate is setting a strong foundation for 2014.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 2:39:08 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
The rise of self service and using technology to enhance customer experience is obviously an ongoing trend in financial services. Though it seems to me there's more opportunity in banking (such as being able to check balances, transfer money, look for ATMs etc on a mobile app). What are the similar opportunities in the insurance industry (and yes I'm aware a blanketed pig at a football game explained it to me on a commercial, but I never really paid attention).
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 1:22:02 AM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
That's a good thing, right Stephen? It would align with the broader imperative of replacing the long-standing product focus with a customer focus, correct? And also the fact that new products tend to become commoditized relatively quickly -- the value is not in the product/offering itself, but in the customer relationship that ideally leads to additional sales & more profit.
sapplebaum606
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sapplebaum606,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2014 | 9:17:01 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
To me, the fact that Tom Wilson refers to DriveWise as a "telematics" program rather than a UBI program tells me that the longer range strategy for DriveWise is much more about customer relationship, contextual roadway services and revenue enhancement than it is about simply offering driver-based auto insurance pricing.
Ravi Koka
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Ravi Koka,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2014 | 10:34:10 PM
re: Allstate CEO: Tech Crucial to Customer Relationships
Geico and Progressive established the direct to consumer market and caught up with Allstate and other leaders on net premiums in the personal lines area. Allstate's is responding now with esurance and it will be interesting to see how they fare against the first movers. I do agree with their strategy on emphasizing the digital channel. They should have done this a few years back.
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