Embrace new technology to get ahead of the competition

AS WELL as regulatory compliance, insurance companies are being forced to adapt to new and ever shifting consumer demands. Technology is allowing insurers to innovate with products such as pay-as-you-drive insurance models, but also allows them to change the way that they interact with customers.

As in banking, it is no longer possible for insurers to tell customers that “this is the way things are done.” It is the end of fixed models, universally applied over the industry. Instead, companies are being forced to become more customer-centric. Consumers are used to real time, interactive, multi-channel, multimedia interaction with retailers, banks and investment firms and expect the same convenience and accessibility from their insurers. As a result, it is vital that insurers who may typically have viewed their customers as brokers, agents or advisers, now increase their interaction with customers beyond just sales and claims.

As customers demand for greater choice and IT innovation from their insurance providers increases, so does their willingness to switch and change their insurance providers. And surprisingly, it seems that social media is seen as even more important to commercial insurers than it is in personal lines. According to a Marketforce survey, 96 per cent of commercial lines insurers and 93 per cent of the London market expect most of their clients will search for reviews or recommendations online by 2016.

According to Marketforce director, Julie Knight, those dragging their heels on investment are in danger of missing the boat: “Non-financial brands are already snapping at their heels, and if these new players are allowed to steal a march in their use of social media, their advance across personal lines insurance will increase.”

Paul Wishman, group eCommerce director at LV= has seen this shift in the industry: “One thing is for sure, the days of having a one way broadcast – with full control of brand messages – are quickly disappearing, giving way to ‘marketing conversations’ with our customers.” Wishman adds: “Those who listen and engage most effectively with their customer will increase the chances of success.”