(Image credit: Adobe Stock.)
Customers depend on property/casualty coverage to protect them from life’s unexpected events. But industry customer satisfaction scores indicate that most insurers haven’t lived up to customer expectations. Ideally, the insurer-insured relationship should be based on trust, with customers relying on insurers to help them recover when dealing with the financial aspects of life’s rough patches. A more personalized approach can help those companies turn it around.
Like any business, insurance companies are built on relationships. Customers expect insurers to be there when they need help dealing with major events, but the “there” in that expectation has evolved over the years. It no longer means the insurer’s office, the customer’s mailbox or the call center. Mobile isn’t just a device—it is a lifestyle. For that reason, “there” now also refers to the customer’s digital presence. Insurance companies that don’t adjust to this new reality risk being left behind.
It’s easy to view mobile devices as mere tools, but that view dismisses the profound impact that this technology, which powers mobile, has had and continues to have on people’s perceptions and behavior. The data and analysis functions behind mobile devices enable an unprecedented level of personalization, wherever customers may be. Today’s consumers communicate online, in-person, via text messages (SMS), email and on social media platforms. Insurers need to adjust their outreach strategies accordingly.
Doing so requires both large and small data. Insurers have adopted big data tools to streamline operations, detect fraud, and gain insights into consumer needs just as other businesses have. But to build a closer relationship with customers, and implement a visionary personalization strategy, insurers will have to start paying closer attention to small data which includes social media profiles and SMS contact information; these data will enable companies to reach their customers wherever their “there” happens to be.
Getting from Here to There
The challenge for many insurance companies is that the contact information they have on file may be incomplete or outdated. You may be one of the insurance companies who has not fully adopted a new communication model. In the old model, your customers typically interacted with you only when there was a claim to process or a family member to add or subtract from a policy. But new technology is demanding an updated model. A successful personalization strategy relies on cleaning up existing data and obtaining additional contact information, as necessary, to reach customers where they are.
Another necessity for getting from here to there is to find out customer communication preferences and ask for consent to contact customers. Companies that want to enact a personalization strategy should ask for complete contact information (landline, smartphone, social media, etc.) early in the relationship and also ask customers which channels they prefer the insurer to use. They should update this information frequently and respect customer preferences by following their instructions.
Thriving in the New Customer-Defined Space
Not only does allowing the customer to define the space for interactions signal respect for their preferences, it provides the insurer with a myriad of new possibilities for outreach and relationship building. With a communication platform that can handle multiple channels, companies can send out voice, text, email or social media messages to warn customers of impending weather events and much more. By integrating Internet of Things data, such as signals from connected home smoke alarms, insurers can proactively protect customers while reducing losses.
New technologies and big data capabilities are changing the way companies and consumers operate and interact, but it’s not all about buying and selling. With a forward-thinking personalization strategy, property/casualty insurers can deepen customer relationships while protecting their balance sheet. The technology is available now. All that remains is the vision to use data and technology to make customers’ lives better by meeting them where they are.