Today’s customers are more informed, with better access to technology and abilities to use it and have higher expectations beyond insurance industry standards. Expectations gleamed from experiences in other industries.
Customer expectations and satisfaction relative to responsiveness are not necessarily set by a company’s competitors in their industry. A customer calling into the contact center of an insurance company will expect the excellent responsiveness they just experienced in their call to Amazon. In many cases the delivery capabilities of all industries are now being measured by standards set by the best performer in that delivery discipline and not the best in that delivery discipline in the same industry.– June 9, 2016 Gregory Hoeg, VP, Insurance Practice Leader at J.D. Power, “Insurers Could Learn From Amazon About Customer Satisfaction”
The insurance industry continues, however stubbornly, to make customer service the outcome of current technology practices and distribution methodologies. and not necessarily on dealing with customers on the variety of terms of how they may want to be serviced. Instead, dealing with customers on how we know and are able to make that delivery. Most newcomers (disruptors as some may characterize) as well as established insurance institutions who have investments in technology are gambling that technology will prevail and most customers will choose the convenience and perhaps a perception of saving of self service.
We think it is time for the industry to start with the first question “what does the customer want?”. We also believe that question should be answered with a resounding “any way you want it”. We are prepared to meet the customer when, where, how and what (as in product, advice, guidance, choice and advocacy). Give them experience that exceeds all their expectations and at a price that they find reasonable.
This is no different with our expectations with other industries. Buy a car, do banking, go on vacation, eat at a restaurant, get a mortgage or buy a house. The insurance industry must be prepared to answer the customer “Any way you want it”.
We don’t think anyone is trying to give the customer experience of “Any way you want it”. In fact, we think that the industry needs to expect that customers will expect:
- Service now. That literally means that they expect that if they want it, they should be able to get service completion immediately. This means that if you can’t delivery the finished policy immediately upon conclusion of the final decision.
- Any type of insurance I want. This means that customers don’t want to go here for life insurance, go there for commercial insurance or go somewhere else for personal insurance, life, health, etc.. Most will expect that insurance is insurance, “can’t you make it easy for me?”.
- Customers don’t want to fill out lengthy or complex applications. Not surprisingly, most startups are focusing on technology enabling a better experience with this respect.
- Customers will always need some support with dealing with the complexities of insurance. This is the broker’s most powerful advantage. Insurance is not like buying a candy bar, it is far more complex and completely not as tangible. You are buying (or forced to buy) a promise to pay in the event of something horrible going wrong in your life. Insurance, death or taxes, pick your poison; to all those who advertise a happy event occurring out of calamity ? it is anything but that. Insurance is a mess of coverages, conditions, exclusions and warranties and certainly does require more consideration than “nuts or no nuts”.
- We would argue that customers will need advocacy, especially in claims situations. Too much focus is made on the “sale”, but the rubber really meets the pavement when a claim occurs. Buying through direct writers or online raters removes this all too important feature.
- Customers associate the “best deal” with the ability to have a choice between different providers. We, in the industry, know that pricing is extremely subjective and prices will vary for similar products. Most comparative raters will use (a somewhat dubious) 50% as how much customers can save on shopping around.
- Customers need to know more about the specific hazards that they face (water, fire, wind, earthquake, crime, etc.) so they can make better coverage decisions.