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Inventive insurer strategy: Seamless omnichannel engagement with digital and emotional connection

Seth Rachlin
August 4, 2020

A key finding from our World Insurance Report 2020 is that the digital divide between millennials and older population segments is narrowing – and, now, almost everyone is somewhat digitally savvy. This phenomenon, spurred even more by COVID-19 lockdown conditions, illustrates consumers’ changing social behavior and shopping preferences. Today’s convenience-focused customers are socially connected, capable of product research, and willing to explore new things. And that means policyholders seek new ways to engage with insurance firms.

Customers want to access multiple channels for their insurance needs

The insurance industry has been integral to my professional life for more than two decades, and during this time, I’ve seen a significant change in customers’ channel preferences. For generations, policyholders relied on traditional contact points – their branch, a call center, or an agent/broker/financial advisor – for advice about coverage, purchases, and support.

These days, I see informed consumers researching insurance products, and then unilaterally selecting a policy they believe is the best fit versus rubber-stamping the suggestion of an agent or broker.

In 2020, digitally savvy consumers conduct pre-purchase research like this:

  • They access online content, study crowd-sourced reviews, get advice from social media acquaintances, family, and friends and also connect with agents or brokers regarding coverage details and requirements.
  • They use comparison websites to find competitive rates and value-added services from a variety or insurers.
  • They seek first-hand information directly from the insurance firm’s website.

The customer survey from the recent World Insurance Report revealed that more than 60% of policyholders rely on online reviews and testimonials from acquaintances, and over 50% access policy comparison websites and corporate websites for their initial research.

And, almost 53% of our survey respondents said they like to interact with agents and brokers to secure additional information or input.

When it comes to closing the deal, more than 50% of customers surveyed prefer to purchase a policy from the company website or an agent/broker. However, close to 40% said they prefer comparison websites, mobile apps, and partner websites such as travel aggregators. What’s more, when accessing post-purchase support through multiple channels, they want a seamless omnichannel experience.

Why is a seamless omnichannel experience critical?

Our report survey highlighted that, on average, more than 50% of customers prefer to use three or more channels to research and purchase insurance coverage. Respondents – from mature European and North American markets to growing Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions – told us that each channel is valuable in different ways, and they enjoy a comprehensive set of omnichannel benefits.

Omnichannel engagement becomes even more critical for post-purchase support. More than 50% customers said they use the chat features offered on their insurance firm’s website, mobile app, or call center, together with traditional channels (branch/agent/broker) to get answers to questions.

Seamless omnichannel delivery is essential for every insurer – because as many as 75% of surveyed customers say they would switch insurers in pursuit of convenient and seamless policy service options.

Customers want digital flexibility as well as an emotional connection

Careful observation of trends indicates that today’s customers seek a blend of digital and emotional connection from their insurers. The unique dynamics of COVID-19 underscore the criticality of both digital and emotional communication. The crisis drives home the importance of reliable digital channels to keep policyholders seamlessly and conveniently connected 24/7 and to convey tailored reassurance that eases alarm and establishes an emotional connection.

A high preference for omnichannel experience (that includes both traditional and digital channels) signals that customers continue to value personal connection. So, it’s no surprise to me that more and more inventive insurers are prioritizing omnichannel agility to acquire and retain customers. Acting now can drive future-proofing success strategies.

The way forward includes augmenting traditional channels with digital tools. Conversely, emotional intelligence modules (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) must be woven into digital channels.

Download a free copy of the World Insurance Report 2020 for details about the policy shopping preferences of various customer segments as well as real-world examples of omnichannel engagement models.

To discuss your firm’s strategy, reach out to me via social media.