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April 23 2015 | Mark Breading

It’s fairly evident that there is a big focus on the customer experience in insurance. Customer and agent expectations have become more important drivers of business strategies and technology spending, and many insurers consider improving the customer experience to be their top strategic initiative across the enterprise. How is this translating into actual strategies, projects, and investments? How do concepts like customer journey mapping, single view of the customer, and omni-channel play into these strategies? SMA’s new research report, Customer Experience in Insurance: Insurer Strategies, Plans, and Progress, answers these questions.

One basic, but very important question needs to be carefully considered: Who is the Customer? The answer seems obvious, but the reality is that most insurers consider both the agent and the policyholder to be customers. Granted, the strategies, processes, and technologies to improve their experiences are quite different, but the concept and the goals are the same. In both cases insurers want to engender loyalty, attract more business, and build long term, profitable relationships.

One of the key findings of our research is that there are major differences based on insurer size in the strategies, approaches, and projects regarding customer experience. As is often the case, we observe a distinct difference between insurers over $1B in premium and under $1B. For example, insurers under $1B in premium place more emphasis on the producer experience than the larger companies, since the tier one companies often have captive agent forces or exclusive distribution arrangements. Sure, those big companies still invest in technologies to make the agents more efficient and effective, but that has been the case for decades, and there is usually not the same perception of the agent being a customer.

Gaining more understanding of customer/agent needs and preferences is vital. Harmonizing activities across channels is a must. 

Fortunately, the industry has made and is making progress in engaging customers and improving their experiences. There is still a long way to go, with many opportunities and challenges along the way. But the integration between channels is improving, more companies are employing customer journey mapping, and progress toward the single view of the customer is evident. And key project initiatives are underway at many companies, such as web self-service and e-delivery for the under $1B group and omni-channel strategies for the larger companies. A variety of other projects rely on technologies such as mobile, analytics, and collaboration to modernize their capabilities and meet the demands and expectations of customers and agents.

Insurers should be considering the following activities to continue progressing toward differentiating experiences for customers and agents, resulting in new business, improved profitability, and better bottom line financials:

  • Develop and execute an agent and policyholder experience strategy, incorporating all touch points.
  • Tie this strategy into the digital strategy, CRM/distribution management strategy, and digital content/workflow strategies.
  • Map customer and agent/broker journeys, identify pain points and friction, and address those, leveraging single view of contact for support.

Gaining more understanding of customer/agent needs and preferences is vital. Harmonizing activities across channels is a must. Turning policyholders and producers into advocates is a win-win situation. None of these are easy to accomplish, but all of them are increasingly essential to success in the insurance industry.

For more information on the current state and future plans for the customer/agent experience in insurance, read SMA’s new research report, Customer Experience in Insurance: Insurer Strategies, Plans, and Progress. Contact Mark Breading for further information at mbreading@strategymeetsaction.com


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To learn more, please contact:
Mark Breading
Partner
Strategy Meets Action
614.562.8310