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Prudential, Esurance Tap Banking Vets to Lead Marketing

Appointments portend an influence of retail banking's customer interaction strategies on insurance.

Though insurers and banks both fall under the wider financial services umbrella, banks have a clear advantage when it comes to number of touchpoints with their customers. And, in an increasingly connected world where positive customer interactions breed loyalty as well as encourage acquisition, it's no surprise that insurers are looking to their banking cousins for inspiration, and tapping the sector's leaders for marketing positions.

Prudential Group Insurance announced today the appointment of Michelle Crecca as SVP of strategy and CMO for Prudential Group Insurance. Crecca last worked at a bank, Webster Financial Corporation, as its CMO, and also held marketing positions at Citigroup.

The news comes the day after Esurance announced it had hired former Wells Fargo SVP of digital marketing Allan Gellman as its CMO. Gellman does have insurance experience as well, having worked in the e-business unit at Blue Shield of California before Wells Fargo. Esurance's parent company, Allstate, appointed a former Ally Financial and Bank of America exec CMO in 2012.

Crecca's appointment is not surprising given Prudential Group Insurance's strategy. The division is placing a premium on customer experience this year, CIO Joe Hayes told me in an interview on Friday. Group life and annuities products are often lost in the shuffle of health insurance options at enrollment time, and Prudential wants to engage its prospective customers more often and with more relevance so its products are top-of-mind.

"Enrollment is the moment of truth for us, and it happens once a year," Hayes says. "Most people are enrolling on a site provided by a TPA. A gap gets created in education, and we need to fill that. The one thing that can't be compromised is the customer experience."

Like health insurers, Prudential sees an opportunity to engage consumers on their overall financial wellness, adds VP of strategy Vishal Jain.

"As we think more broadly about a holistic relationship, it comes down to how do our clients want us to work with their employees," he explains. "How do they manage and monitor their employees' overall financial wellness? We're thinking about the services we offer in that regard."

To that end, one can expect Crecca's mandate to increase "visibility and understanding of the brand and value proposition," as Prudential put it in a statement, to help support these efforts. Webster recently ramped up its customer interaction analytics capabilities.

"Michelle’s extensive experience and wide-ranging expertise in the financial services industry will be a great asset to our business, particularly as we look to enhance our market-facing and analytical insights that will drive sustainable, profitable results," said Prudential CEO Lori Fouché, in a statement.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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