When it comes to all forms of business, customer engagement is a no-brainer. However, engagement is not enough. You need a reliable way to distribute products and services. Of course, this changes each year with new technology and rules being adopted. What does that mean for insurance? Here are some details to keep in mind.
We get the perspective of three experts in the field of insurance. The panelists are as follows: Jane Wang (CEO of Optimity; focuses on corporate wellness programs), Philippe Lafreniere (Chief Growth Office at Slice and 25-year insurance industry expert), and Marya Propis (SVP at All Risks; awarded the 2019 Insurance Professional of the Year by the NYC Association of Insurance Woman). In the latest Insurtech panel, these veterans collaborated to create an engaging dialogue of the impact of customer engagement. In the audience, there are people in the realm of property and casualty, life and health, caregivers and brokers, and other fields within insurance.
The first portion of the discussion focused on the panelists’ perspective of what customer engagement means to them. Wang states her take on the life insurance side, “Customer engagement for our life insurance side means more persistent policyholders, healthier policyholders, less claims, and also referrals from the policyholders.”
Propis had a slightly different approach. She goes on to say, “It’s not simply relationship management.” It’s not about buying a product. The customer should want to buy into the value you provide. Put yourself in their shoes to give them something they need.
Lafreniere brings it home by making a point that, “We live in a digital age.” He gives a couple of brief remarks:
- It’s the digital exchange of value (between both parties)
- The need to be relevant without being presence (for insurers).
Seeing as the world is changing rapidly, you need to adapt to the times. Strategies that have been successful in previous years will not cut it due to the way people engage these days. What could be a meeting with an insurer once or twice a year has to change to more interaction with the customer.
The average life of an insurance seller only reaches out to 10-20% of their book on a yearly basis. There’s a huge gap in the amount of people you should actually have some type of engagement with over the course of the year. It’s a challenge now to keep the insurance industry relevant.
Propis makes a good argument that the industry has been using the same basic principles for the past 100 years. It’s challenging due to the market becoming more of a gig-economy. Instead of being an individual, you’re essentially operating as a business. This means you can also be sued accordingly. Additionally, things move a lot quicker. Instead of an annual policy, they’re breaking things up in quarters.
Wang further delineates by saying there’s a need “to manage that pool of people in their books of business, systematically book appointments with them and talk with them, and find new high quality leads to talk to.” The touch points are so few, far, and between that it doesn’t provide more widespread value to customer. Engagement is key to keep your audience on board. A lifestyle product is more natural as you change the cadence of insurance.
A good example of digesting content is a streaming service, like Netflix or Spotify. People get to choose what they want to watch and hear as opposed to being fed content in a specific time slot.
While you’ll still want to talk to an agent, you’ll gravitate towards more of personal relationship, such as a friend or family member. This goes to the next point: distribution.
The point of distribution is on digital ecosystems. Even with insurance, it can measure a $1 trillion in the realms of small business, mobility, home, travel, and leisure. There’s brand loyalty and trust that entices people to become long-term users of different products and services. The problem with the insurance industry is that they don’t have brand loyalty and trust on their side. Insurance companies need to find a way to cater to that digital audience without being invasive.
Propis talks about engaging with more independent brokers and agents. When you’re able to give more call-to-action to the small business owners, it can help greatly across the board. Ultimately, this changes the dynamic. This type of adaptation needs to be made to cater to the more digitized ecosystem. Not to mention, it can be a good test to see different perspectives for customer engagement and distribution on a global scale.