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11:30 AM
Kate Gingras
Kate Gingras

Becoming Customer-Centric, Not Product-Centric

New technology can ensure that your customers get the products they require, rather than being force-fit into a product option that's not right for them.

Leaders in the insurance industry know that matching products in their portfolio to individual client’s or prospect’s needs is critical. Ideally, this should be an automated process that considers each client’s particular circumstances. A customer-centric way to rethink your business processes is an accelerator for your success. It enables agents to educate prospects on the proper offerings, and helps bring gap filling products to market quicker.

Marketing suitably to the right person at the right price has been a notoriously hit or miss situation. The industry needs to improve the sales cycle, streamlining the proposal process.

Unfortunately, the algorithms some companies use to connect customer needs to product offerings have been unreliable. That has led to somewhat dismal customer retention news for us all.

In 2011, a global study by Accenture on customer-driven innovation in the insurance industry showed a significant drop in customer satisfaction – down from 21% only two years earlier. Of the 7,000 consumers around the world polled, 26% admitted to having no insurer loyalty to their insurers. What’s more, 33% were unlikely to recommend their life insurance providers to others, and only 17% were sure that they would buy more products from their current providers. Some 26% would definitely consider shopping around for better deals.

The survey concluded that “to achieve the capabilities needed to understand customers, and provide the products, services, and channels they prefer, insurers must have an underlying back-end infrastructure that is simple yet sophisticated.” The infrastructure would need to support multiple channels, multiple products, and multiple servicing locations.

Core capabilities of such an overarching infrastructure must include product definition, rating, and pricing with a high degree of scalability and work across the multiple systems used by individual agents. For this approach to be successful, the infrastructure should be able to make best use of cloud technology so that all concerned can access capabilities and product offerings without straining on-premises resources.

[Previously from Gingras: Building Customer Acquisition and Retention Platforms.]

“Anything that impedes agility and stands in the way of giving customers what they want should be identified and carefully considered for elimination,” Accenture wrote. “Legacy product-centric organizations should be dispensed with to facilitate a truly solution-centric approach to products, services, prices, and channels.”

It’s simple: To improve customer retention and to offer prospects the right combination of products that suit their needs, it’s important to automate processes for greater efficiency and better targeting. Process efficiency puts the emphasis on customers, not products, for the best service. That’s possible now with newly emerging work platforms that allow custom applications to be built with virtually push-button simplicity. These work platforms not only take advantage of cloud and social technology (for much better collaboration within the organization) while also integrating with legacy applications, if necessary.

Let’s not despair about the flight of customers from their long-time insurance providers. Let’s instead focus on ways to introduce the products they really need, when they need them. New technology can ensure that your customers get the products they require, rather than being force-fit into a product option that’s not right for them.

Kate Gingras is Global Practice Leader, Insurance, for Appian, a BPM software provider. View Full Bio

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