Channels

12:06 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance

Insurers need strong mobile offerings to satisfy policyholders but often struggle to develop apps that inform and engage consumers.

Most insurers know that a strong mobile strategy is required to satisfy today's policyholders. Consumers have become more dependent on their mobile devices, and insurers must broaden their channel strategies in order to fulfill the increasing demand for mobile capabilities.

"It really is a challenging space, and that's due to the rapid growth," says Carla Silvey, director of e-commerce at Esurance (San Francisco; 1.4 million policies in force). "There continues to be this great opportunity to redefine the industry."

Consumers' expectations for mobile services are escalating, and the time is right for insurers to invest in more informative and engaging customer-focused apps. The question remains, however: Are carriers prepared to make this kind of commitment?

Demand For Innovation

"The insurance industry needs to pay attention to the fact that it's late to the game," says Jamie Bisker, senior analyst of P&C insurance at Aite Group. Policyholders are accustomed to the mobile applications available in industries such as retail, travel, and hospitality. They expect the same level of service from their insurance providers.

[The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders]

To help close the mobile engagement gap, insurers are advised to look outside the industry for inspiration from corporate giants such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. These companies have to be on their game mobile-wise, says Bisker, because they're only a click away from losing customers to another retailer. Google, another top mobile strategist, has conducted research on how people respond to specific colors in website design -- details that insurers have not yet explored.

Thelton McMillian, founder and CEO at strategy and design agency Comrade, recommends that insurers look to tech-savvy startups such as Uber and OpenTable, in addition to established companies, for mobile inspiration. These up-and-coming businesses use their service design to engage customers across all touch points and provide a seamless interactive experience.

"It's about taking a step back, looking at the entire customer experience across time, and thinking about designing it in more efficient ways to get more functionality," McMillian says. He describes the Starwood hotel chain as another example of mobile engagement prowess and cites the ability of the company's mobile app to alter its home page according to the status of the user.

Some insurers are taking the lead in their mobile offerings. Esurance, for example, has explored new mobile capabilities. One is its video appraisal feature, which launched this year. This function expedites the claims process by allowing policyholders to schedule video chats with Esurance representatives so they can discuss claims estimates in real time. At the conclusion of their chat, the appraiser can send an electronic payment to settle the claim.

In addition to video appraisal, Esurance's mobile app offers policyholders the ability to file claims, schedule inspections, or monitor their claims process. Should they not want to use video chat, customers also can send photos of damage to Esurance.

Incremental updates and new capabilities are common in the mobile space, and it's important for insurers to stay current on trends that their policyholders prefer. "What [insurers] are still not doing is really getting into looking at the whole customer experience," Comrade's McMillian says.

He recommends that insurance companies create a journey map to view the entire mobile experience from the customer's perspective. By creating a visual of their mobile strategy, he says, companies can connect the many aspects of customer experience from start to finish and gain insight into how they should develop their apps. "I think that would be something that would really improve the customer experience, as well as engagement," he says.

Kelly Sheridan is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade publication Promo Marketing and a number of ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Kelly22
50%
50%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 3:37:39 PM
re: Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance
Thanks for your comment. I agree; as customers rely more heavily on their mobile devices, they will expect insurers to provide their standard services in mobile form. I think more insurers are recognizing the staying power of mobile, though, as we're starting to see more apps across the industry.
Nataraj_m
50%
50%
Nataraj_m,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2014 | 2:53:18 AM
re: Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance
Mobile apps have moved from "nice to have" to "must have" in the customer engagement strategy for insurance companies. As all the routine customer tasks like paying bills, reporting claims, locating agents, printing cards becoming part of the standard suite of offerings, companies need to look for more innovative and positive ways to keep the customer engaged on regular basis. That's where the next wave of mobile apps will come in.
Kelly22
50%
50%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
6/13/2014 | 4:14:02 PM
re: Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance
Seems like insurers are becoming more aware that they need mobile offerings to stay competitive. At this year's IASA conference, a bunch of companies debuted mobile apps for agents and policyholders, and even more discussed apps that are currently in development. In the near future (or now, to some extent), just having a mobile app won't be enough and insurers will have to find new ways to set their apps apart.
KBurger
50%
50%
KBurger,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 6:04:44 PM
re: Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance
Good point, Jon. In personal lines (personal auto, homeowners, etc.) customers are pretty fickle and will readily switch carriers for a better price or some other benefit such as convenience, easy claims submission, etc. It's not unreasonable to expect that mobile capabilities will also factor into these decisions. It's the whole consumerization thing -- increasingly policyholders will expect to be able to interact with their insurance carriers (which most often happens in either a claims or a billing or payment situation) via mobile. As Kelly's article points out, mobile apps have to offer convenience (not just coolness).
Jonathan_Camhi
50%
50%
Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 5:59:05 PM
re: Mobile Apps: Key To Customer Engagement In Insurance
I see so many ads for the Geico app now, I wonder if mobile capabilities have become a factor in customer acquisition in insurance like it has in other industries where customers are willing to switch providers for mobile.
Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Slideshows
Video