Adaptability: The Insurance CX Imperative

All the rage – and rightfully so

Customer experience (CX) is all the rage. You can’t click to an insurance industry news site or general interest news site, or even pick up an insurance industry trade magazine without seeing exhortations about the need for insurance industry companies and agencies to become customer-centric, customer focused, or customer engaged.

Actually, there should be trumpets blasting the message in every direction you could turn to about the critical importance of CX to your firm’s ongoing and future success. It’s that important and why my company, Market Insight Group, believes that it is an imperative that agencies, brokers, and MGAs constantly strengthen the CX they provide their clients.

But what is customer experience? Think of “customer experience” as the total amount of positive and negative perceptions customers have each time they interact with an agency, producers, or CSRs for any reason, regardless of the nature of the interaction or the technology the client uses to interact. Moreover, the perception of whether any one interaction between the customer and the firm is positive or negative is entirely up to the customer.

Technology is the culprit … and is reshaping customer expectations

Technology advances, including the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, are ratcheting up customers’ expectations of immediacy, ease of use, and accessibility of people and information, regardless of where they are or time of day. Customers will increasingly expect producers and CSRs to be even more accessible, more responsive, and more personal in their interactions.

What we used to call “Moments of Truth” but label customer interactions for this blog post and the associated report about CX, are quickly becoming high-definition spotlights that uncover every blemish and every age-mark of the quality and timeliness of the service you provide customers. Adding to your workload to support CX, the customer interaction options extend to the information that your firm publishes online: the content must be easy to find, easy to understand, relevant to customers, and equally important, engaging.

There is no let-up in the growth of the number and type of customer interaction options

The days of customers having only the options of meeting face to face with producers or using the telephone, fax, or email to interact with a firm are quickly fading. Customers know they have, and are comfortable using, many more options to reach out and interact with producers and CSRs.

Market Insight Group believes that there are four phases of known and potential customer interaction options. Each phase is associated with time, progressing from the earliest era of geographically bound commerce (Phase 1) to the current and unfolding eras of real-time online digital social media-amplified mobile commerce (Phases 2 – 4).

Specifically:

  • Phase 1: Insurance firms conduct business from set geographic locations. Insurance firm owners and producers use Yellow Pages, newspapers, and telephone directories and participate in community associations to maximize the likelihood of prospective customers knowing the “who, where, and what” of the firm and its producers. The client interaction options in Phase 1 include F2F, telephone, fax, and postal mail.
  • Phase 2: Insurance firms create online digital presences to primarily reach out to and conduct commerce with clients. Insurance firms are constantly challenged to determine how to ensure that 1) prospective clients are able to find the agency web site, and 2) quickly find and use the information they want. The client interaction options in Phase 2 include email, IM, the agency web site, and Skype.
  • Phase 3: This phase is rapidly becoming the “new normal” of online digital communication, collaboration, and media consumption. To compete successfully, insurance firms need to acquire social media, digital brand marketing, and content management skills to attract prospective customers and keep them engaged – particularly customers using smart devices and expecting increasing functionality as apps for their smart devices. In fact, this phase represents the tipping point from insurance firms conducting business on a transactional basis to their needing to conduct business on a more interpersonal client engagement basis. The client interaction options in Phase 3 include social media, Twitter, online content, and mobile apps.
  • Phase 4: This phase is slowly beginning to emerge, and encompasses interaction options that enable customers to reach out to insurance firms, producers, and CSRs from an expanding set of on-the-go mobile capability choices, including web-connected vehicles, wearables, interactive TV, and other video streams that are personalized for each customer. Market Insight Group  believes customers will bring their expectations of personalized content to their on-the-go interactions with insurance firms, producers, and CSRs. We are well on our way to live and work in an interconnected real-time digital mobile marketplace. The client interaction options of Phase 4 include web-connected vehicles, wearables, and interactive TV.

Adapt or remain the same?

This is the question regarding strengthening CX that you have to answer. Do you truly want to play a status quo game?

Are you, as an agency or broker firm owner willing to bet your future competitive success being based on the same capabilities and daily operational activities you use to support clients in the current marketplace?

Read what your peers are doing about CX

This blog is an extract from a report done by Market Insight Group sponsored by Applied Systems.

Read more about CX and why you should consider providing a stronger CX an imperative to your firm’s success in Market Insight Group’s report “Adaptability: The Insurance Customer Experience Imperative in an Online Digital Mobile Society.”

Market Insight Group’s report covers the:

  • forces making CX important
  • the expanding portfolio of customer interaction options and associated challenges (not covered in this post)
  • insurance customer journey
  • capabilities an insurance agency needs to provide a stronger CX at each step of the customer journey
  • what your peers are thinking about and doing to offer a stronger CX.

At the end of the report, there is a Call to Action that we hope agency and broker firm owners, and carriers, will take to heart.

You can download a complimentary copy of the report here: http://marketinsightgroup.com/spotlight-and-insight-reports/

What is your agency or broker firm doing to provide a stronger CX now and in the future? We welcome your thoughts and questions.