The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened a shift in customer expectations and behaviors. Data has shown that the pandemic significantly accelerated the shift to e-commerce during 2020. Although the initial momentum of this trend has decreased, expectations around convenience may solidify customers’ digital-first habits. The lasting impact from this shift will have a dramatic effect on the distribution and service models for Personal Lines and Small Commercial insurance carriers for the next several years.
The acceleration of digital commerce has not been the only consumer trend of note. Our 2021 Accenture Global Insurance Consumer Study reports that millennial and younger consumers (ages 18-34) want digital offerings that help them make safer, healthier and more sustainable choices. For example, 67% of millennials and zoomers reported that they would appreciate advice from their insurance provider on how to shop and travel more sustainably.
In another example of shifting needs, a recent Accenture survey from Europe revealed that 53% of respondents said they were interested in medical insurance that would reward them with reduced premiums for participating in healthy lifestyle activities like running and cycling. In Asia-Pacific, Manulife has seen widespread adoption of its app-based behavioural insurance program, which helps customers focus on ongoing healthy behaviors to reduce the risk of serious illness.
To meet these new expectations and see long-term success, insurers need to reinvent their offerings and routes to market. Of course, that means facing a number of common challenges. Many have fundamental concerns around disrupting their main distribution channel (independent and captive agents). Many insurers are still tied to legacy technology systems and have been slow to embrace digital service models. Furthermore, although most have started delivering customer experience-focused improvements, so far, they’re seeing only limited results because they also haven’t rethought their operating models.
But I see an even bigger opportunity for insurers willing to move beyond simply reinventing their offerings. Those that commit to simultaneously reimagine their end-to-end customer experience will be in a better position to retain their existing customers, gain referrals, acquire new customers and improve their ability to cross-sell products that meet customers’ unique needs.
From reinvented product offerings to improvements in marketing, digital sales channels and customer service, across the entire customer journey, our research reveals that insurers can drive top-line growth (up to 15% in increased revenue) and expand their margins (by reducing operating expenses by 10-40%).
In the coming weeks, I’ll be digging into four aspects of the customer experience where you can make changes that will help you drive growth:
- Innovative new insurance products that meet evolving customer needs and expectations.
- An insurance marketing transformation that delivers more meaningful experiences.
- Digital channels that support an omnichannel approach.
- Customer service that re-envisions what it means to serve customers.
And I’ll be recommending two key technology enablers to help you on the journey.