How Data Can Demystify Next-Gen Consumers
Insurance Networking News, February 28, 2013
The company, to make sure it was staying in touch with customers in an nonintrusive fashion while preparing itself for the most important customer interaction, the insurer started initiating test claims for every customer once a year. To both ends, customers felt reassured that they would be taken care of should the worst occur, and insurers prepared themselves for the most critical and decisive touch point, which is especially important given the fickle nature of the next generation of consumers.
As the assumption that customers want direct contact with insurers and little interaction, the question is often then asked: Are agents and brokers being replaced? To which the answer invariably boils down to: No, brokers and agents are not going anywhere, they’re adapting, and some of their activities are being replaced.
For with that convenience and lack of human interaction/advice that customers are demanding comes several dangers that insurers need to be accountable for if they want to retain customers—such as naïve consumers unknowingly making bad purchasing decisions and claims processes feeling cold and impersonal.
“In my parents’ generation, you went to an agent, you talked about what it is that your needs were and your agent would tell you what to look into, and so the agent played a central role in connecting consumers with insurance carriers. But at this junction in time, consumers don’t want to talk to an agent,” says Samir Ahmed, analyst, X by 2. “How to connect the consumer with an agent is not as a sales agent, but as an advisor, like a consumer advocate.”
In other words, consumers still need help, but they don’t want the self-service process to be interrupted, which means agents—or consumer advocates—need to be inserted into the process subtly, fluidly.
For an example, Ahmed also turns to the claims experience. “After an accident, big or small, consumers are usually thinking, ‘I don’t want to report this in an agent’s office. I’m going to go home. When I’m calm and in a comfortable environment, I will inform you guys that this accident happened. Here’s the police report for it, here’s some pictures I took. Here’s where I want to go get my car fixed because I trust this body shop.’ And they want to be able to do that and go through the approval in a smooth way.”
To enhance the claims process and provide a slick platform for agents and brokers to get behind, some insurers are turning to the dynamic capabilities of mobile devices. SAP’s Cummings uses a generic example of how a claims process could be carried out with a rich insurer app: “When in an accident, an app can ask if you want to connect with someone at the call center. After speaking with someone, you can use the camera show them the site, etc. And then talk through the next steps; from there the order gets placed and it captures the location so the insurer can move quickly in contacting a nearby tow service.”
This is an innovative example of mobile’s dynamic functionality and how it can improve key touch points and customer experience services. Yet overall, insurers are still befuddled by the new devices and how to make them work for the enterprise, according to Jean Lassignardie, chief sales and marketing officer, Capgemini. He says his company recently asked more than 100 insurance execs for their thoughts on mobile, and while the vast majority said mobile is critical and that developing a mobile channel will become increasingly important, almost all of them were also still unsure how big a role mobile will play.
“Moving forward, it’s critical to have a better understanding of who your customers are. Until you have that, it’s going to be very difficult,” says Lassignardie. “Do you need to have everything on your mobile or are there only certain pieces that are most important for the client and they can get the rest through other channels? It’s a matter of understanding what roles it will need to play.”
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