Gone are the days when consumers would walk into an insurance office or call an agent or broker for information about policy coverage. Technology and a marked shift in customer behavior have transformed the insurance landscape.
And now, the digital divide between age groups has eroded, according to Capgemini’s World Insurance Report 2020. Irrespective of their age or generation, consumers increasingly turn to digital channels to conduct transactions. Therefore, it is no surprise that insurers are offering policyholders and potential customers direct digital communication channels.
Consumers frequently doing transactions online or via mobile app
Insurance customers surveyed as part of the World Insurance Report 2020 said they felt confident doing independent research about policy coverage – 67% said they sought reviews from friends and family, and 61% assessed online reviews.
However, when it comes to completing a product purchase, 53% turned to an agent for assistance. Mostly, today’s customers rely on a mix of channels. They use one channel to begin their insurance journey and conclude their transaction through another. And, that’s why I believe insurers must have an omnichannel presence and offer customers the right products at appropriate life stages through the high-engagement channels.
Personalized customer experience drives positive engagement
As part of a 2019 survey of small business owners in the United States, about half of respondents said they purchased insurance coverage in person from an agent or over the phone because they sought personal support and advice.
In my view, the role of agents is shifting. Instead of providing information about products, today’s agents are advising customers according to their specific needs. Digital channels are becoming more and more popular for information gathering, but I believe that the emotional connection and personalization provided by agents will continue to be significant.
A recent Novarica report revealed that younger agents are increasingly offering customer self-service portals to onboard new policyholders. They are also leveraging social networking platforms to strengthen their brand and targeting customers during key life stage moments, such as a home purchase or birth of a child. Surprisingly, only 35% of insurance executives surveyed in the World Insurance Report 2020 said that they empower their agents with digital tools to target customers during life events. I expect these numbers to increase over time as agents with access to data and supportive technology platforms optimize their productivity across the entire value chain from lead generation to relationship maintenance.
Some firms provide agents with a mobile app that receives website customer activity alerts so agents can connect with customers in real time, increase business opportunities, and drive down agent attrition. For instance, one insurer reported an increase of 250% in customer engagement and a decline of 30% in agent attrition in 18 months.
More than 70% of insurers were upgrading their agent portal to simplify user experience and reduce manual data entry requirements by utilizing data prefill, according to a 2019 study. And that’s good news because some agents say they spend up to 90 minutes per client on back-end processing tasks and capturing and updating client information.
Automating low-value activities through technologies such as Cognitive Document Processing can save time for both agents and policyholders. Capgemini’s Digital Direct solution gathers and enriches customer data and needs information, thereby opening up opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
Omnichannel engagement – through which policyholders interact with insurers via a mix of channels – is fast becoming a critical distribution strategy. I expect agents to be an integral part of each firm’s omnichannel presence, but they will need digital tools to serve customers in real-time and to fully step into an advisory role.
Capgemini’s World Insurance Report 2020 examines consumers’ general and insurance-specific shopping behavior. Download a copy at www.worldinsurancereport.com to learn more about creating experience-led customer engagement.