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The Shot Heard Around the Industry: AXA and Facebook Reimagining Insurance

Denise Garth
Insurance Experts' Forum, April 15, 2014

What a stunner and brilliant outside-in move by AXA – to position themselves as a dominant digital insurance company by partnering with Facebook. You baseball fans will know the phrase, “the shot heard round the world,” which was said about the game-winning home run by a New York Giants player against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 to win the National League pennant. And just like that home run, this shot is a game-changer for insurance, propelling AXA ahead of the competition and redefining the customer experience. 

AXA and Facebook plan to leverage the scale of both businesses via ground-breaking innovation and access to research, training, and capabilities, particularly on mobile. The power partnership of the world’s top insurer and the dominant social media company has the potential to completely innovate, transform, and redefine AXA’s customer experience, customer engagement, digital presence, and growth potential to levels not yet seen in insurance. 

Also see Insurers and Social Media - Where are We? 

AXA’s game-changer move has the potential to reinvent the customer experience, establishing a new bar for customer excellence, loyalty, and engagement that many insurers talk about, but few have actually taken the bold actions to make happen. This move goes well beyond having a presence on social media to embracing the power of a social media platform as the foundation of a new customer engagement model.

What is it that makes this so fascinating and game-changing? First, it is Facebook’s mission to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected – by building a network of more than 1.23 billion (and growing) monthly active users. Second is the growing influence and pervasiveness of Facebook’s platform that is used by 57 percent of all American adults – and the fact that 50 percent of those adult users have more than 200 friends in their networks, according to the Pew Research Center.  

Facebook started 10 years ago on a US college campus, and it expanded across all demographics around the world, creating a powerful network of relationships that influences decisions, other relationships, and outcomes. We all have seen or experienced Facebook’s power from making possible the most basic of connections with childhood friends and family to its expansion across the U.S. and the world. Beyond its original purpose of social connection, it has grown to having the power to save lives, influence buying behaviors and customer loyalty, and motivate social and political change. And it gets more impressive.

Based on their 2013 fourth quarter financial results reported in early 2014, Facebook announced even more milestones that highlight the power and potential for AXA to completely turn the insurance model on its head. Consider these:

  • On a daily basis, 757 million people were active users as of December 2013, representing an increase of 22 percent from the previous year. Even more astounding was that 556 million people were mobile active daily users, an increase of 49 percent over the previous year. 
  • But most impressive was a monthly average of mobile users totaling 945 million, an increase of 39 percent, but representing nearly 76 percent of the base.  

Facebook’s vision, reflected in its milestones and influence, emphasizes why this partnership has game-changing implications for the industry and opens up a whole new model and potential of customer engagement for insurance:

  • It can create a modern customer experience, like the ones people have every day with companies like Facebook, Amazon, or Zappos, where there is a new level of engagement beyond the three common areas of quote and buy, bill payment, and claims – the things that are not necessarily fun and delightful! Imagine a new experience where the customer is getting more value through new services, offerings, and knowledge sharing with an insurer that is offering a more omnipresent relationship.  
  • Customer loyalty – and our typical manner of measuring this through a net promoter score (NPS) – is transformed through a branded customer network of relationships that share experiences, recommendations, costs, product ideas, and much more.  
  • Imagine leveraging the Facebook platform as a means of managing the customer’s portfolio of assets, products and policies, offering life and P&C product recommendations based on their life stage or activities, or helping them during a claim or catastrophic event. Customers can also use mobile technologies in a self-service manner to find assistance with claims or to access preventive information to help protect themselves and their assets.
  • Consider the explosion of new data that will be available and valuable in understanding the customers better so as to personalize their experience, provide insights, uncover new needs, and identify new products and services that they may be aware of. 

Most insurers today are using Facebook, mobile, and data to just do the same things differentlywithin their operations, such as having a presence on Facebook, or “liking” the insurance company to get a discount, or tracking information to assess brand impact or fraudulent activity. Instead, this powerful partnership that is leveraging next-gen technologies has the potential to do completely different things – going well beyond what has already been done today, creating a digital strategy and experience that will reinvent and transform AXA – and subsequently – the insurance industry. 

This outside-in move is a game changer, leveraging a relationship to reimagine AXA’s future. Game on. What will your next move be? 

Also see Social Media Etiquette Faux Pas or Brilliant Campaign? 

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Strategy Meets Action.

Denise Garth is a partner at Strategy Meets Action. Readers also encouraged to respond to Denise using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

Comments (4)

In her excellent commentary, Denise hits on a key point that the transformative potential of the AXA/Facebook deal is what is most exciting about it - doing new things in unthought of ways.

In just one example, major auto companies are engaging with technologists like Facebook and others on the integrated smart car whether the vehicle is owned or ordered up from Zip Car, Uber, etc.

The customer experience delivered from new areas like these- which will inevitably include major insurance ramifications - will determine the future winners in many industries.

"A nothing new can work in insurance" attitude as expressed by the commentators above is emblematic of what holds our industry back.

Denise, well done in moving this needed discussion forward.

Posted by: Dennis M | April 22, 2014 2:16 PM

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Re: Irrational Exuberance?

Aside from the fact that I agree with Max H's assessment of Facebook and Twitter value, there are other factors at play apparently disregarded by Ms. Garth.

From a purely "point-of-sale" market play, the AXA-Facebook power play may appear compelling. However, it's the day after the "sale" where the breakdown's will inevitably occur.

As one who specializes in insurance sales debacles and the rendering of inaccurate and misleading guidance provided through home office service centers and overzealous product solicitations, I say; BRING IT ON!

I accept the reality that John Q. Public is all too eager to be seduced by the prospect of on-line and push button driven transactions. "Quick and easy" is the motto of the day UNTIL expectations and promises are left unfulfilled.

Make no mistake about it; regulators and litigators will need to hire more staff, as will AXA and other companies that join the fray.

The creativity of the blanket liability release provisions embedded in on-line applications will be something to behold, but surely overlooked by the buying public.

All will quickly become familiar with the phrase, "Caveat Emptor."

David F. Sterling, Esq., Insurance Consultant

Posted by: dfsterling | April 19, 2014 11:12 AM

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Baseball is great and all... but the shot heard round the world is about America and the start of the Revolutionary war in Concord MA. Also what make you so certain the facebook relationship will succeed?

Posted by: David C | April 18, 2014 12:34 PM

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AXA may get some initial return for its investment, but I doubt this will be the "game-changer" imagined by Ms. Garth, AXA, or Facebook. Let's face it, the number of young people in America who use Facebook is rapidly diminishing. That's where any future for AXA's play resides -- and if those numbers are declining, AXA will derive little long-term benefit from this.

I, for one, have stopped using Facebook--for all intents and purposes--simply on the basis that virtually every app or link to some contest or survey or other such commercial use nonsense requires access to my "friends" and other information that I deem personal and not public. So I decline that use every time it appears.

Facebook, to me, has become almost 100% irrelevant. And the crap people post there, as they do on Twitter and similar sites, is just that . . . mostly useless crap.

Posted by: Max H | April 18, 2014 9:50 AM

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