I’m Not Your Customer of the Future—I Am Your Customer Today

David Ollila
Insurance Experts' Forum, March 11, 2013

I’m a child of the 80s. Some might say I'm a Generation Xer, some might say I'm from Generation Y, others might describe me as a Millennial. Regardless of what you call me, if you're going to sell me something, it better involve technology.

You see, my life revolves around technology. I grew up with computers, just like a previous generation grew up with TV. I use a branchless bank. I stream my television content. I use social media to communicate with my friends. I don't like paper. Technology makes my life easier.

So you can imagine as I looked at career possibilities, I never saw myself working for the insurance industry. I hardly knew anything about it actually, except that it didn't seem like an industry that was very innovative or technologically advanced.

What I do remember was sitting at my insurance agent’s desk watching him use an Oregon Trail-looking application. And recalled the many times I had to send a fax to change my policy. Or had been directed to call the insurer’s corporate headquarters to file a claim and in the process repeat my member ID over and over during the same conversation. Or not being able to know the impact that a change to my policy would have on my bill.

But I've been watching over the last several years as an entire industry re-evaluates itself and rethinks how it does business and markets itself to me—a member of the next generation of consumers. But there’s still a long way to go. I’d like to see:

• Tremendous investment in modern technology and the delivery of useful self-service capabilities

• Embracing more forward-thinking mobile and social media trends, meeting customers like me where we are

• Investigation and implementation of innovative technologies involving telematics and other consumer-facing tools

• A more intimate and one–to-one relationship between customers and the carrier by leveraging advancements in analytics, business intelligence, and predictive modeling

• Ultimately, the attraction of younger and top IT talent to the industry so insurers can continue to innovate

For me and my generation, these will be welcome developments for a couple of reasons.

First, we’re digital natives. There aren’t too many facets of our lives that haven’t gone electronic. For me, my church giving and insurance may be all that remains. Although insurance has been a bit slow on the uptake, it’s truly gratifying to see an entire industry take my generation seriously, incorporate our needs into their overall strategies, accommodate to our lifestyles, and view us as something worth investing in.

Second, now that the industry has begun to reverse course and is upping its technology game, my generation has another employment option, which we most likely would not have considered otherwise. No, it’s not true that we all want to work at Apple or Google, but we do want to invest our considerable talents in an industry that has interesting problems to solve and, more importantly, an environment that shares our enthusiasm and trust for technology.

I look forward to watching technology shape insurance innovation. Who knows—maybe this is the year experiments like usage-based insurance will become a reality. The battle for the hearts of my generation is on. Only the tech-savvy carriers and agents will triumph.

David Ollila is responsible for client development at X by 2, Inc., an application and data architecture consultancy, in Farmington Hills, MI, specializing in insurance technology transformations. He can be reached at

Readers are encouraged to respond to David using the “Add Your Comments” box below. 

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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Comments (1)

Fantastic article. Well said. It's about meeting your generation where they want to be met. It's about knowing, where they want to interact and how they want to interact. It's also about reaching out at the right points in time with messages that are personal and relevant. This is something that I speak to the carriers about often. I work for a large data company that deals with strategy for all the top insurance carriers. Those that can connect will win on the life and P&C end.

Posted by: Karen I | March 20, 2013 9:00 AM

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