Years ago, purchasing insurance was a relatively simple yet rigid process. Customers met with an agent, chose the policy they preferred from a pre-existing list, and that was that—the policy itself dictated much of the customer’s relationship from that point on. But times have changed. Product reviews, social networking, and access to comparisons have sparked sweeping change across the industry, empowering customers like never before.
With constantly shifting options and numerous statistics at their fingertips, even the most loyal of customers are now more likely to switch insurers over time. In an effort to better serve today’s informed consomer and differentiate their business from competitors, insurance companies are making a concerted effort to shift from a policy-centric business model to a customer-centric one.
And those changes can certainly be seen in the life insurance industry. Life insurance is a very complex business with a myriad of sophisticated algorithms, complicated underwriting processes, and opaque pricing models. But with today’s powerful insurance and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, life insurance companies can better understand their customers at an individual level. They can quickly ascertain their customer’s financial investment preferences, life goals, medical history, hobbies, risk tolerance and budget constraints. They can better understand the standard of living their client wants to provide for their loved ones and, combined with sophisticated policy and pricing tools, they can offer their clients the best mix of products and coverage. They can also use those same systems to streamline processes and reduce paper work,in turn giving agents more time for value-add advisory and financial planning services and ultimately more meanfingul customer interactions.
In the same way, property and casualty (P&C) insurance companies are also striving to better serve their customers and, along the way, humanize insurance. And that can certainly be seen in the new wave of amusing and entertaining ads by companies like Allstate, State Farm, Liberty Mutual and others. No longer is price the deciding factor. In today’s P&C marketplace, insurers and agents are competing for your hearts and minds. They want their clients to know that they are here for you.
With new cloud-based CRM solutions, P&C insurers and agents can instantly achieve a true 360 degree customer view. They can see what products their clients have, the premium details, coverage limits, deductibles, claims submitted, and all touch points and interactions. If a newer plan, bundle, or discount can better serve their client’s needs, they can contact them, saving them both cash and the time they’d spend figuring it out on their own. The same technology also helps if a life event (new job, car, house, etc.) alters the coverage a customer needs as insurance carriers can rapidly adjust and tailor existing products or offer new ones.
One unlikely place you can also see the insurance industry’s renewed focus on customers is in the historically stodgy call centers. Insurance companies are investing in CRM and unified service desk tools that provide agents with a 360 degree customer view and enable them to rapidly resolve issues and share best practices. And now call centers are combining those tools with mobile technology to more rapidly resovee claims. Customers can instantly take pictures of accidents or losses, submit a claim via a mobile device or online site, set up a meeting with an adjuster and engage with call center or claims processing agents for the subsequent evaluation and approval.
But this renewed customer focus can be especially seen across independent insurance agents and financial advisors. Most would agree that these individuals have been at the forefront of a customer-centric business approach for many years as that is how they built their business. Now, however, with powerful policy rating, analytics and CRM tools, these agents can take it a step further. They can survey the insurance market and recommend the best insurer or policy based on the unique needs of their client. They can demistify the traditionally complex insurance pricing model for their clients. They can work side-by-side with insurers on customer inquiries, account changes, claims processing and other service issues by sharing the same customer information with the insurer. Insurers and agents alike are working hard to rebrand their historically dry and complex business as a more customer-friendly industry. Whether that is providing their clients with guidance on complex insurance products, providing sophisticated financial planning services or processing claims the focus is squarely on the customer. And when it comes down to it, humanizing insurance and treating customers as individuals isn’t just a good idea for insurance companies but good for business in general.
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