The art of “super serving” - Customer centricity is the next leap forward for life insurers

Life insurance providers are increasingly aware of the need to focus on customers needs. With new generations requiring more and more personalization, and the digital world changing the way consumers engage with products, the key to gaining a competitive edge seems to be a customer centric strategy.

Tech giants like Apple and Amazon are paragons of success when it comes to a customer focussed strategy. Apple’s One to One programme, where customers sign up for personal training on how to use a product to its full potential is a brilliant example of customer centricity at its best. Carmine Gallo explains:

“The One to One program was created for one purpose: to build a customer for life. It’s based on a simple premise – the more a customer understands and appreciates a product, the more likely they are to make a deeper emotional connection with that product, and to return or to recommend the product/service to a friend.”

It’s a massive shift from the product driven ways of old, and an instant change is out of the question. The key to success with customer centricity is proper planning and strategy, affecting a company-wide change instead of just paying lip service. So how can insurers start to focus more on customers? Here’s 4 steps that will get them on the way.

1. A cultural shift

Real customer centricity requires an organization wide culture shift. Customer service should no longer be one department, but everyone’s job. This requires a change in the way we view customers. The idea that the product comes first, and if the product is good enough customers will realise they want it, is outdated. The rise of online research and comparison of insurance products means that customers are no longer content to be told what they need, and every competitive edge makes a difference. According to one study, 62% of insurers think the fact that customers are becoming more and more self sufficient in regards to research and buying insurance, is going to become more and more important over the next 12 months. On top of that 48% think that customers’ increasing customer service expectations will become a critical issue.

2. Digital channels and customer relationships

One of the biggest adjustments in customer interaction has been the rise of the “brand relationship.” Customers now expect to have ongoing, personalized service, and not the old school, wine and dine kind of service, the modern version - access anywhere, anytime and across multiple channels. 58% of consumers have used their mobile device to apply for an insurance product/service in the last two years, and that number is only going to rise.

A full understanding of digital channels within the organization is key to making the whole customer experience work, strategy must be aligned with the technology requirements of customers. Insurance companies must also digitally enable their employees, making sure they have the right knowledge and tools to function well in a highly technical world.

3. Big data analytics across all channels

Greater customer centricity requires a greater understanding of customer needs. Big data is the key to a more complete view of the consumer. Insurers absolutely need a big data strategy. Better integration of data sources, and effective analytics will allow insurers to analyze and predict customer behavior, creating simpler and more transparent products that customers will respond to. It will also allow for insurers to reduce churn, directing customers to products that suit their needs above all others.

4. More agile operation

In order to keep up with shifting demands, insurers need to become more flexible and agile. Adopting more advanced technology can be a safe way to reduce drag, allowing operations to move at a faster pace, not weighed down by legacy systems and outdated processes.

The product development process is one bottleneck that could stop further acceleration. A more streamlined, collaborative product development process could be a huge advantage to insurance companies wanting to be customer driven. Technology that allows for faster, more in depth product development would enable product and pricing teams to produce more profitable, unique offerings that meet current customer requirements and expectations.

There should be no doubt that customer centricity will become one of the biggest competitive deciders of the next decade. Insurers that manage to meet the expectations of an informed, individualistic customer base will have an edge that can’t be overestimated. Take a page out of Apple’s book - if your customers are also your biggest fans, then the future starts looking a lot brighter.