According to Forrester's 2014 insurance trends report, consumer empowerment and expectations are changing the rules for insurers: in addition to their own changing demographics, consumers have high expectations for brand relationships set by their experiences with online retailers, travel sites and financial apps. As a result, consumers require more personalized, digital experiences and interactions throughout the relationship with their insurer.
These evolving industry dynamics mean insurers need to use technological advances to meet a consumer's digital expectations and keep him at the core. Personalized experiences are even more relevant when they include information in real time, and are more captivating when delivered via the most engaging digital medium – video – through every addressable channel customers engage with on a one-to-one level, such as email inboxes, within an authenticated portal and in mobile apps.
Marketers across industries are adapting these channels and technology mediums for today's connected consumer by pulling big data from a structured source, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) database, a social feed or online behavior. Specifically for insurers, this data can include a customer's policy information, claims information, agent interactions and behavioral history.
Because customers are always addressable during their commute, in the office, at home and on the go, these experiences must be delivered in real time and to every connected device. The result is a highly personalized and contextually relevant digital interaction between the brand and customer. These "smarter" and differentiated experiences for policyholders ultimately drive deeper loyalty and higher profitability for insurers.
Get the customer
"Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance" is the well-known GEICO slogan encouraging consumers to request an insurance quote. But how can insurers drive prospective customers to purchase policies in a personalized way with limited customer data?
While many insurance marketers use videos as an awareness tool, personalized videos can be used as a follow-up communication to support customer acquisition initiatives that actually perform. By including the prospective policyholder's information, such as quote explanation, monthly payments and additional coverage options, a relevant yet easily digestible and visual tool can help explain and educate a consumer, driving him to purchase a policy.
Whether created in real time after a customer submits a quote request online or delivered as a follow-up email directly from a sales agent after a call, a digital and personalized experience can lift policies purchased as well as set positive customer expectations for future communications and tools from the insurer.
Grow the customer relationship
Once a customer signs up for a new policy, it is especially critical he feels reassured that he made a good choice, as this is when insurers have the best opportunity to gain customer trust and create brand stickiness. This starts with how insurers welcome new policyholders, and continues with proactive, multi-touch engagement throughout the critical first year.
Insurers can leverage customer data to generate personalized engagement to proactively educate the customer about his specific policy, set expectations for policy document delivery, briefly explain the first statement, highlight value-added services and programs for the customer to maximize the new policy and recommend actions that deliver a great experience. Further, there is no reason a new insurance policy has to be a low-engagement product. Making it visual and easily digestible, and delivering it on an easily accessible channel, can make the customer experience more engaging.
Consumers are easily confused by new policies and statements, which can create barriers to growing customer relationships within the first year, as well as lead to excessive support costs and churn. Deeper levels of personalized engagement during moments that create frustration for customers can pacify these challenges. Insurance marketers can enrich the experience and proactively relieve the complexity associated with the consumption of new policy benefits, terms and fees with more engaging digital and video formats, ensuring the customer receives only the relevant and necessary policy details and billing information.
Keep the customer (even beyond the claims process)
Though J.D. Power reports that customer satisfaction among auto and homeowner claims handling has begun to improve over the last year, guiding policyholders through the claims process is still an opportunity where insurers can enhance and impact the customer experience.
Claims are of great consequence to both policyholders and insurers. For policyholders, the claim process can be emotional, and if the experience is inefficient, it can make for an unhappy and mistrusting customer. For insurers, claims are a top churn factor and represent a company's largest operational expense. How insurers handle customer communications and information sharing throughout the process can make all the difference to customer satisfaction and profitability.
While there are as many as six touch points in the claims lifecycle that affect the overall customer experience – from first notice of loss through appraisal, repair process and rental experience through settlement – each of these touch points can generate multiple calls, whether to an agent or the service center. Today, there are many digital experiences that allow customers to stay informed and up to date through the process.
Further, adding another layer of digital interaction with video can guide policyholders through the process as well as pull in data elements from other digital tools and applications, all from the palm of the customer's hand. Insurance companies are able to build consumer confidence in the claims process and control the high costs associated with these calls throughout the claims lifecycle. Leveraging policyholder profiles and claim-specific data can deliver engaging and effective digital experiences at key touch points throughout the claims process.
Customer-centric companies continue to differentiate with superior customer experience, and insurance organizations are no different. Leveraging big data and customer analytics further enhances and smartens these experiences and engages the customer in a personally relevant manner that makes him feel recognized as an individual, deepening brand engagement and customer loyalty along the way.
About the author: Jim Dicso is president and chief revenue officer of SundaySky, driving the go-to-market strategy, sales execution, business development and revenue growth for the company's SmartVideo solution. He has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Villanova University.