The insurance customer experience is largely out of step with the way the world works today. The current approach—diffusing your brand through a loose network of agencies, brokers, and other intermediaries—no longer meets consumer expectations.
In 2021, winning business requires an entirely different approach. Fueled by behavioral and technological shifts, your customers judge your business based on your ability to deliver personalized experiences—whether they’re booking a destination, grabbing dinner, or, yes, buying insurance.
McKinsey outlines five factors customers expect from shopping interactions: experience, service, assortment, convenience, and price. In other words:
How you make them feel
How much attention you give them
How unique you make it for them
How easy you make if for them
How much value you give them upfront
The market has changed. And an industry-wide tendency towards siloed thinking puts insurance carriers at risk of irrelevance. So what can carriers do to advance insurance technology? Learn from an industry that also once struggled with a wide network of touchpoints, impersonal brand–customer relationships, and a stifling brick-and-mortar mentality.
The insurance industry can learn a lot from retail
Once a graveyard of empty storefronts and bankruptcies, retailers learned early that customer-centric, streamlined experiences win in the “make-it-about-me” age. And by ignoring the trap of going digital for digital’s sake, forward-thinking retailers that put their customers first are reaping the rewards. Retail has proven that carriers that integrate customer-centric software into their omnichannel strategy will stand out in the marketplace.
If insurance companies want to survive in the modern business landscape, they would do well to take a page from retailers’ playbook.
Retailers leverage data to create personalized customer experiences
Every customer wants their own unique experience from you. They aren’t just looking to buy your product or service, they’re looking to tell their own story—and they believe that the responsibility is on brands and businesses to create an experience that makes their story better, or they’ll find it elsewhere.
Whether retailers are curating selections for customers, rewarding them for their loyalty, or suggesting similar products based on recent behavior, they understand how to deliver personal experiences both automatically and at scale. By cataloging every product and every variable, presenting it through intuitive software, and collecting data on their customers’ preferences, retailers encourage repeat business, expose customers to more products, and make more sophisticated (and higher win-rate) suggestions over time.
From our own experience, we’ve seen a retailer generate 51% of their 2020 revenue and increase sales during the COVID-19 pandemic by releasing a customer-facing app that connected customers with personal stylists. This provided a valuable service to customers while enabling the retailer to centralize their brand, build their omnichannel presence, and collect large volumes of customer data.
Data allows businesses to be more customer-aware, and therefore customized, than ever before. And if insurance carriers want to beat their competitors, they must follow suit.
But how does a retail approach work for insurance software development?
“Developing insurance software that meets end-user expectations isn’t just about serving up your product or service in a palatable way; it’s about creating a memorable experience that rivals a customer’s experience on their favorite app – whether it’s a social network, travel app, or online shopping platform. As we’ve discussed before, keeping insurance end-users engaged with your brand means competing with consumers’ last digital experience in lieu of competing with other carriers”, Angélica Bello, service designer lead at S4N.
Insurance software that is capable of driving true customer engagement and converting users into brand loyalists adds clear value to customers’ lives beyond the product or service they’re already paying for. Like retailers who have developed customized apps that offer holistic experiences and opportunities for interaction and engagement, insurance companies are beginning to follow suit with lifestyle apps aimed at enhancing individuals’ well-being in different ways. And carriers are getting truly creative with the solutions they’re devising for their customers.
From apps that integrate with customers’ Apple Watch or Fitbit and personalize their experience based on their sleep patterns, heart rate, and exercise habits, to platforms that engage customers by serving up useful content and recommendations catered to their current life stages (new baby, new home, child going away to college, etc.) – technology that keeps a brand top of mind for customers has the potential to deliver impressive ROI. Forward-thinking carriers are leveraging customer data and higher engagement levels from such technology to introduce customers to new products tailored to their needs while potentially improving their underwriting predictability.