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Empowering the Empowered Customer

July 14, 2015 No Comments

Featured article by Kara Bauer, Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services – Commerce Consulting

We are living in the age of the empowered customer. Most likely you’ve heard this before but an inordinate number of these discussions have focused on how these “new age” consumers are impacting retailers. While true, this narrow view fails to recognize the larger impact these consumers are having in other industries such as, you guessed it, insurance.

Today more and more consumers, led by the influential millennial population, are calling on their insurance companies to replace their traditional customer touch points with new self-service capabilities. Why? They want 24/7 access to their information as well as the ability to take care of their own needs whether on their desktop or smartphone.

Insurance companies have no choice but adapt. As you look to dip your toes into the self-service realm, first ask yourself the following question: Does my organization have a single holistic view into all of your customer’s information? At the very heart of a successful self-service model is the customer and to serve them best you need to have a clear picture of each person, what products they are paying for, where they live, who is on their plan and more. Today many insurance companies have this customer information stored in product siloes. What I mean is that a customer’s auto insurance plan is stored in one location and their homeowners in another. Does this sound familiar? Do your customers have to call one number to get details on their car insurance and a second number for information on their life insurance? And when they do so, do they have to re-enter their personal information and their account details?

If this applies to you, then it’s time to remove these barriers. Once your silos have been toppled, the next step is to figure out what types of self-services you want to offer. A web portal is a great place to begin (later you can consider a complementary mobile app). As you consider exactly what you want to include, keep in mind one thing—the growing call for self-service doesn’t spell doom for one of the company’s most valuable assets, the agent. In other words don’t attempt to turn over the entire business to the customer. Agents must continue to play a vital role especially in areas such as car and life insurance where an underwriter is required.

Now getting back to the services you want to roll out. Begin with something simple. For example, introduce services that let customers order new insurance cards or download copies of the home insurance policy.  As those processes are perfected begin to widen the self-service scope. As you begin to introduce more complex self service capabilities be sure to invest in the technologies that can make these efforts a success. Take analytics as an example. Predictive analytics can examine a customer’s personal information once they log onto the site, connect them with the services or supplemental information they seek as well as additional service recommendations, sometimes even before they know they need it.

For example, a customer goes online to check their home insurance policy may be presented with a reminder to put their child, who is fast approaching the driving age, on their insurance plan so they can take a spin after passing the big test. At the same time, the customer is presented with valuable content such as articles that talk about how they can coach their teenage child to drive more safely and more.

Predictive analytics can also play a vital role. For example companies can use these analytics to help identify customers who are going to churn. Once flagged, bring the agent can be brought back into the equation in order to quickly resolve any issues. However, be sure to arm your agents with real-time access to the customer’s data. This can be provided through an agent app that provide a single view into each customer and the areas of concern as well as helpful information on how that can quickly resolve current  issues while using these same predictive capabilities to offer services that meet those needs in the future.

The insurance company we grew up with is changing and with this comes great opportunities for these businesses to meet the personalized needs of each and every customer to ensure they not only remain loyal but become powerful brand advocates.

Kara Web 2 150x150  Empowering the Empowered Customer

Kara Bauer

Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services – Commerce Consulting

Kara is a 20 year veteran of the Enterprise Marketing Management space. She has helped both B2C and B2B Marketers in a variety of industries achieve strong results leveraging leading Marketing Technologies -  such as IBM ExperienceOne and SAS. Over the years, Kara has engaged with strategic IBM customers in the Retail, Financial Services, Travel & Hospitality, Life Sciences, Consumer Package Goods and Telco industries to help enable their outbound and inbound marketing initiatives.

Kara also has extensive experience working with customers to craft and redesign their marketing processes so that they can achieve the time-to-market and cost benefits of a streamlined, standardized and automated marketing process



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