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Where are insurance carriers concentrating their efforts to improve customer engagement?
So what needs to happen - in practical terms - for insurers to become more customer-centric? Let's start with a look at possible hurdles to customer-centricity: first and foremost, pre-existing processes, infrastructure and systems.
Systems overhaul is certainly a major component of digital transformation as organisations strive to become more customer-centric. But there are many other moving parts to this puzzle - scoping out customer needs, marketing & communications and product development to name a few - which cannot be addressed in a vacuum. So who, within the insurance organisation, is taking overall ownership of customer-centricity efforts?
As we see from the graphic above, 14% of respondents have a dedicated customer experience team driving the overall process forwards - but this does of course bring with it a silo risk in that a separately constituted team that works across lots of departments simultaneously may struggle to drive its vision forcefully enough within any single one. This risk partly explains the rise in prominence of the CMO role within insurers, whereby those closest to the customer are being empowered to play a much greater role in technology decisions and strategy.
When functions and job roles evolve, it creates a learning need, so we asked our respondents what they are currently most keen to learn more about. Technology (especially AI and analytics tools) of course looms large, but software answers are only ever as good as customer questions - hence the greatest importance being attributed to understanding the customer journey, something that is becoming more and more central to success in today's multi-channel, multi-device universe with the elevated competition and potential for subtle differentation that this implies.
To conclude, we cast our eye to the future of the insurance sector as a whole... Whether you side with the Insurtech Evangelists preaching the end of insurance as we know it, or lean instead towards the naysayers, it's clear that customer focus will be a trait all winners will have in common, wherever they hail from. To win out, insurers don't have to have the best product in every line and the best direct channel and the best mobile UX and the best marketing - in fact, any insurer who tries to attack across such a broad front will undoubtedly fail.
Instead, it is time to make the overwhelming "wood" of customer and demographic specificity into our friend and focus on those particular "trees" where we can establish secure competitive advantage.
As we see from our thermometer, the insurance industry (and our sample includes both incumbents and start-ups!) still lacks clear customer focus. So in our next, and final, question we ask who is most likely to take the lead and to draw ahead. And while Insurtechs and carrier start-ups outperform established insurance companies on this measure, the biggest takeaway is the perceived importance of out-of-industry players.
As insurers build out their customer relationships, players with personal customer relationships already are building out their insurance capabilities - who will arrive first, we wonder?