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Need for Customer Focus Seen for Long Haul

Insurers must come to grips with an ever-changing and diversified consumer population at a time of accelerated change, driven largely by technology.

In comments about Deloitte's 2011 Insurance Industry outlook, the consulting firm's insurance sector leader Rebecca Amoroso told I&T's Nathan Golia that, "Every insurer has some sort of customer experience initiative going on." Amoroso spoke in the context of the present year, at a time when a sputtering economy makes growth and retention a greater challenge, but the need to improve customer experience should be seen as a long-term concern for insurers, which is one of the reasons I&T chose customer experience as the topic for next week's Virtual Event.

Current economic conditions have only served to refocus insurers' on their long-standing but often plodding commitment to customer-centricity. The explosion of consumer mobile communications and social networking have made it plain that more immediate, personalized online communication is the way business will be done, in the insurance industry as elsewhere, and that automation of processes and integration of systems is more important than ever to the insurance industry.

The recent pattern of acceleration is not a short-term phenomenon, according to findings from a December 2010 LOMA survey incorporated into a report entitled "What's Ahead: Our Industry in 10 Years," released today.

"Change is likely to continue at an accelerated pace that becomes the norm, positioning companies that are agile, innovative, responsive and strategically focused for profitable growth," says Steve Callahan, senior consultant and practice development director for the Robert E. Nolan Company, LOMA's announcement about the report.

Insurers success will depend in significant measure on their adapting to an ever-changing and diversified consumer population, according to the report, which says:

Staying abreast of the trends will require continuous targeted investments in technology, enabling companies to achieve greater product flexibility, improved speed to market, enhanced service offerings, and expanded distribution methods. Strategic focus will be critical. Clarity of markets served, product portfolio, distribution methods, and service offerings will all be prerequisites to profitable growth. Success will depend upon a deep understanding of targeted customer segments and their predicted behaviors combined with innovative yet straight-forward product designs.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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