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As the web continues to rise, working in insurance, we face the same challenges as other customer-facing industries: of providing convenience, responsiveness, relevance and reliability, and making products available in a common, easy to understand language. For us, this is a world rich in opportunity. One we can capitalize on to make things easier not just for customers, but for insurers too.

Innovating the customer experience, keeping the customer right at the heart of what we do, is critical. With social media, the types of relationships and interactions we can have with brands has shifted dramatically. Look at the way we buy books, bid on auctions, and bank online. Customers have a raft of other industries against which they can benchmark their experiences with insurers, and we are striving to offer them that same convenience.

One way we’ve been working on this is with a process that identifies a new type of client. We call it the “360 Customer” and it allows us to look at a policy-holder in a very rich, multi-dimensional way. We use it to drill down so we know who they are and what their needs are (and what they might potentially grow to become). This is done at every stage of interaction.

One key benefit is that it allows us to map specific customer journeys. Take for example a student, a type of client who initially at least often doesn’t know what products they actually need. In researching, they might initially look something up on a blog post, find out details on a website but buy over the phone, use a website to settle claims, then give feedback via Facebook or Twitter.
At each point we can offer a choice in how they engage.

But what the 360 Customer also gives us is insights on ‘white spaces’ – so for example I can look at their peer group, see what products they don’t yet have that you might need or enjoy and then offer recommendations. This really enhances a customer’s experience, both in relevance and positivity, whilst allowing us to cross-sell and up-sell.

The real innovation comes down to knowing the customer better than ever, but also knowing what is sellable. To use new communication and collaboration channels, bring in relevant content – even discounts and offers from other sectors – creates a much richer relationship. Customers are happier and more satisfied. Everyone wins and costs aren’t actually that high because the right product allows such time-saving – those white spaces again – that target lists are really very straight forward, and the information can then be shared very easily and with great power.

If there’s one challenge we face, it’s one of education. Insurers often have a lot of data, but it’s not always bundled efficiently and they don’t always know the power and insight it can offer until we show them just how easy it can be. It’s a revolution and it calls for a mind shift, but the tools are flexible, easy to implement and adaptable for both marketeering and IT. In return, you really know the customers and can offer them things they actually need, addressing them personally. Ultimately, it’s a return to the old, personal relationship of offering people the right product at the right time.