Insurance carriers have seen a heightened engagement from consumers during the pandemic, but they need to capture this demand while it lasts and foster a deeper, more engaging relationship with customers to maintain their interest.
One of the biggest impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on business was the drive for digitalisation. While this was already an existing trend, the events of the last 18 months have forced companies to change their multi-year digital transformation plans into six-month initiatives. With countries put in lockdown and people only allowed limited excursions outside, most resorted to the digital world. For carriers, it meant they had to alter the way they interacted with customers. They could no longer hold a face-to-face meeting to understand what their customer needed.
Making things harder is that digital pioneers like Amazon and Netflix, have made people expect the best online experiences from every company and industry. Life.io president and CMO Muriel Petri said, “Consumers expect fast, simple and painless ways to access their carrier’s offerings. On top of that, they’re looking for more than just a life insurance policy. They also want guidance from their insurer in their overall wellbeing – including their financial, physical and emotional health.” If a firm wishes to foster engagement with a customer, their services need to be streamlined and comprehensive.
However, one of the boons of the pandemic was an increased engagement with insurance. Petri explained the coronavirus put mortality and the financial risk of loved ones front and centre. As a result, consumers were actively seeking ways to assess their needs, find the right insurance products and ensure the best future for their families. Insurers that were able to support this need experienced success; however, they’ll need to continue taking steps to keep consumer attention in the long-term. “As the pandemic fades, so will people’s heightened awareness and engagement with insurance. Carriers need to seize this moment and build a stronger, more proactive relationship with consumers.” The best way to build on this heightened awareness is by using InsurTech tools that can make online interactions seamless and engaging.
Capitalising on the customer engagement demand
One of the biggest benefits of using InsurTech solutions, like those offered by Life.io, is they simplify information gathering, sales processing, customer relationship cultivation and brand building. Many traditional insurance firms are challenged with legacy infrastructure that hinders the ability to be fast and efficient, but InsurTechs are designed to be just that and help firms provide the customer experiences the market demands.
In a preliminary study set to release next month, Life.io found that twice as many people buying life insurance are turning to online purchase methods compared to those who bought a policy more than five years ago. The same study shows that people are looking for their insurers to provide educational content and ongoing wellness recommendations. These two findings reinforce the need for insurers to embrace a digital transformation that helps meet the consumer at every stage of their journey. That’s where InsurTechs can help carriers. Life.io for example, offers a suite of solutions that can help carriers change transactions into meaningful customer interactions. One product in the suite, Life.ioEngage, fosters ongoing interactions with customers and leverages this information to fuel insights for the carrier around needs, life events and interests. There are several ways the platform fosters engagement with a customer, like providing educational content on financial, physical and emotional wellbeing, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. It can even connect with wearable devices to get accurate lifestyle data and reward a customer for doing certain activities.
This kind of engagement is why capitalising on a customer-centric approach is in the best interests of an insurer. By having regular engagement and a deeper understanding of a customer, the carrier can provide them with the best products at the right time. If the consumer is about to start a family, connecting and showing them life insurance options will deepen the value the insurer brings. “Consumers want simple, easy and enjoyable tools that help them understand where they are today and where they are headed.” If the carrier can proactively show them a policy that might interest them, it could increase conversions but also build brand loyalty.
At Life.io, the firm ensures every feature is tested before it is built and added to the platform. This includes getting consumer input on the tool, which can make the product better align with what customers really want. Petri said, “A basic tenet of meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations is two-fold. First, you need to deliver on the promise of what you are offering the consumer. Second, you can’t assume you know what consumers want. Sometimes we are surprised by what a customer actually wants and how a new feature we’re considering might not be of interest.” Assessment of a tool’s value does not stop there. “Once we launch a feature we monitor, test and optimize to improve outcomes. This structure enables us to rapidly respond to consumer expectations and build more personalized services.”
Now is the time when carriers need to prioritize digital transformation and embrace a customer- centric approach. Part of this evolution needs to be a cultural shift. Instead of just implementing digital tools, they need to implement a test and learn approach with rapid iteration. “This is not a “one and done, problem is fixed, moving on” situation. Carriers need to work with third-party solutions while simultaneously building internal teams to keep in lockstep with the pace of change,” said Petri. Change is only going to keep accelerating and firms need the team, culture and partnerships to keep pace.
The market must move with the customers’ demands. Petri said, “How are insurers going to build deeper relationships with digitally native customers?” There is a lot of competition in the market, particularly with more InsurTech carriers entering the sector, providing consumers the ability to easily switch to a brand that will meet their desires. Costs and hassle were often deterrents for people switching, but these barriers are also lower nowadays. Digital insurance is not just a short-lived trend. Research from Bain Insights claims that 79% of consumers worldwide say they will use a digital channel for insurance interactions over the next few years.
The decision to embrace new technology is often met with the question, build it in-house or partner with a vendor. Hundreds of millions have been spent trying and falling short on problems that companies, such as Life.io, have mastered through years of proven success. Petri sees the tide changing with more carriers ready to embrace partnering with smaller InsurTechs. “When you work with Life.io you are getting a best-in-class, ever-evolving, SaaS product at a fraction of the cost it would take to build internally.”
The market’s future
The insurance market has changed a lot over the past five years and the pandemic has only further accelerated change. It is hard to predict what the future will be like, but carriers need to be prepared to adapt to the changing environment. Petri concluded, “Bottom line: we will need to meet people where they are and present insurance solutions in a relevant way — possibly bundled with other solutions. As underwriting capabilities continue to advance, we will have to make it easier, faster and less invasive to purchase insurance products. Additionally, the experience will need to help consumers understand the value of the solution as well as the supporting value-added services.”