Reading through a recent Financial Times "Business School" newsletter, one article in particular stood out, about Wimbledon's efforts to reproduce the (traditional) customer experience year after year even as things like technology and the rules of the game change. Andrew Hill, the FT's management editor, posed a challenge for ideas from other older, traditional, venerable organizations who are having to change everything in order to remain the same. I thought it an interesting question for insurance in particular, and sent my response below:
Though much of the insurtech disruption and players have been in property and casualty to date, life insurance will see more of that in due time. What’s interesting to me in your question of ‘what should they do to ensure continuity for existing customers, even as they update everything behind the scenes?’ is that it assumes there is enough to continue from a (good) CX perspective. Insurance I think is being forced to evaluate and update/change both the front end experience and back end operations simultaneously, and many are not doing it well. Which is what had originally attracted me to make the move from innovation consulting, to working in an innovation role within a client – there’s a lot to be done!
The main thing that carriers with agents (or at least captive agents) are doing to maintain continuity is to keep relying on the importance and influence of the agents in the sales process. Little by little there is effort to better digitally enable agents, recognizing that target customers have more information at their fingertips and will be doing more research on their own, coming in to a meeting with an agent with at least some semblance of what they want, or with more detailed questions. Agents can’t only operate at the top of the funnel, they need to be able to plug in to wherever the customer is in their research and education process.
What this type of digital enablement looks like, I don’t think anyone has fully figured out. Is it providing agents an iPad tool to plug in information as they talk to customers that then spits out a “customers like you” profile, to further guide the discussion? Is it a voice assistant app that agents can talk to in their office to pull up information – or that customers can use from their home to connect to an agent remotely? There are discussions happening here at my company and I’m sure at other carriers, but it remains to be seen how quickly anyone can move on it. In the meantime, smaller players are figuring out how to plug the gaps left open by agents/carriers who rely on agents - and though they likely won't be seen as real competitors by incumbents, customers are taking note.