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Deep Thoughts From London and Stockholm—Insurers Face the Same Problems Everywhere

Chad Mitchell
Insurance Experts' Forum, November 20, 2009

I had the pleasure of traveling to London and Stockholm this week for business. I gave a speech at Forrester's EMEA Marketing Forum, and spoke yesterday morning to group of insurance internet executives in Stockholm. After my speeches, I had a chance to speak with many insurance executives to discuss their views on trends and problems their firms are facing. It was both refreshing and disappointing to hear that insurance eBusiness, marketing and IT executives face many of the same challenges across the globe. This blog is less about consulting recommendation, and more about a humanity check and introspection on how interconnected we are within this industry.

That concept is probably obvious to many of you, but it was poignant for me —a Midwesterner born and reared (chickens and cows are raised) in Urbandale, Iowa. My first job was as a database marketing specialist for GuideOne Insurance based in West Des Moines, Iowa working on agent lead generation programs (3x5 direct mail leads sent in the mail to agents—what a concept). I have been with Forrester now for over a year. We have access to consumer and IT spend data across North America and Europe. We analyze differences in consumer behavior related to researching and purchasing insurance across channels and countries. Many of you are aware of such differences, such as the UK's preference to purchase auto insurance online and through comparison sites. Spain continues to lag behind other EU countries with online insurance, distributing much of its insurance through banking channels.

But when I asked about the challenges Swedish and UK insurance executives faced in 2010, many were identical response I received from the same questions to North American insurance managers. Here are some of the common problems I heard while across the pond:

• Lack of funding for IT and eBusiness initiatives
• Limited online policy administration and claims, and poor customer experiences
• Difficultly with online self-service customer adoption
• Continued focus on integrating data across channels while managing channel conflict with in-person sales forces
• Continued confusion or skepticism regarding social networking for both service and marketing

Conclusion

The world is flat—Friedman was spot-on (with a slight English accent) when he wrote about the interconnectedness of us all. That is true, not only as human beings and consumers, but also as insurance executives. I hope in some small way that Forrester is helping link the problems across the globe, identifying some relevant research and, more importantly, some solutions to help ALL of us succeed in 2010 and beyond.

Chad Mitchell is a senior analyst with Forrester Research. He covers mobile and social media strategies in insurance, acquisition, cross-sell and retention marketing strategies, comparative raters, online guided selling tools, emerging Web and call center technologies for sales and service, agent portals for marketing and underwriting, and the best practices of leading multichannel firms. Additionally, he advises leading insurers on best practices for public and secure insurance Web sites—analyzing functionality for quoting, policy administration and claims.

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