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Social media and mobility have transformed the way people connect, and insurers who harness this stand to benefit from real-time intelligence, improved relationship management, and a proactive customer-centric way of working.

“Insurers are more and more aggressively using social media,” says Dennis Vanderlip, insurance industry director at Microsoft. “They’re using it as a vehicle to interact with customers at an individual or household level, enabling personalized communication. They’re also using it as an early warning system that can alert them to an issue or an imminent request, so they can take a proactive approach. Third, insurers are trying to better understand social sentiment and better gauge consumer feedback on anything from new products and campaigns to the brand and its competitors. In doing so, they are harnessing social media as a powerful, real-time intelligence tool to improve relationship management.”

Sophisticated solutions are enabling insurers to gather, analyse and present all that information in a meaningful, actionable way. “Using customer relationship management solutions such as Dynamics 365, insurers can set up a search for a product, brand or other item. The solution will then monitor discussions across social channels and present the information on a dashboard. It automatically assigns sentiment to each piece of information so the insurer knows whether consumers feel positively or negatively about it. It provides location insights to show where those views are being posted from, and tells you who is influencing the discussion and what language they are using,” says Vanderlip.

That customer insight can be put to work in many ways to monitor campaigns, identify leads and build competitive intelligence, as well as enabling staff to deliver the proactive service that is essential to a truly customer-centric business. “An insurance agent who uses these tools can gather customer insight and understand the help they need right now,” says Vanderlip. “For example, an agent might search for the term ‘hail damage’ across social media. When there is an increase in negative sentiment on that subject, the agent can investigate further and identify where the posts are coming from. If they originate in an area where the agent has customers, there’s an opportunity to reach out to those who might be affected and ask what help they need. That early-stage, proactive service can enrich relationship management while helping to minimise disruption, damage and subsequent claims pay-outs.”

The more sophisticated social media becomes, the more urgently insurers need to reflect that networked connectivity across the organisation. “The apps and services available in our personal lives – the ones that help us make new connections, engage in open discussions and discover new information – look nothing like the tools many use at work,” observes Vanderlip. “Many companies still rely on traditional hierarchies and legacy tools that leave people and information trapped in silos. Companies that are not built to respond effectively to a networked world are finding it difficult to keep up with changing customer needs and market landscapes, and in the future they will find it hard to attract and sustain the next generation workforce.”

Leading insurers are now putting in place modern productivity and collaboration tools to enable networked connectivity and engagement, and there are already signs that this will become a key differentiator. “We’re going to start to see separation between the insurers who are enabling this customer-centricity and those who lag behind,” says Vanderlip. “If customers are not getting the level of service they want, they will look elsewhere. Those insurers that are enabling a 360-degree view of the customer through collaboration and networking technologies are creating something powerful right across the business.”

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Read more on the Microsoft Banking & Capital Markets and Insurance blogs.