It’s perhaps not surprising that some of the most easily accessible lessons for insurers may be found in the banking arena. Both sectors fall under the broad financial services umbrella so they face many of the same challenges as regards legacy systems and regulation. A crucial difference, though, is that banks naturally have a greater frequency of touchpoints with customers than insurers do.

That frequency is increasing, potentially, as customers use their digital devices, especially smartphones and tablets, more and more.

Many of the leading banks are today adopting the “everyday bank” as the aspirational model. This model has been developed in response to the fact that today’s customers are already using digital channels for more than 50 percent of the purchase cycle, and thus that the bank needs to establish a place for itself in this value chain to stay relevant.

The key point here is that these value chains are increasingly resembling digital ecosystems built around customers’ lifestyles. Becoming a valued part of an ecosystem will often require a bank to see its business more broadly.

Some examples of banking innovators include http://peoplelikeu.com.au/, part of the National Australia Bank group, which allows people to compare their own spending habits with similar demographic groups. Another is Actif Nokta, essentially a storefront offering a wide range of products and services run by Turkey’s largest investment Bank. Other innovators include BBVA, Barclays Bank and iGaranti.

In retail, consumer giant P&G has developed a system called Consumer Pulse which gathers all comments made on social media by all stakeholders (employees, customers, business partners) and feeds it back to relevant managers.

A final, personal example comes from Burberry which, attentive readers of these blogs will remember, benefits from my wife’s patronage. I was most impressed recently when we visited a store which unfortunately did not have the desired garment in stock. The assistant demonstrated the interaction between the virtual and real worlds inherent in the use of digital technologies by locating the garment in another shop via the website, and helping us to buy it, specifying delivery to the shop we were in—thus giving my wife the opportunity to come in and try on the garment and receive a refund if it proved to be unsatisfactory.

A great example of linking the digital and analog channels in order to serve the customer.

These are just some of the possible routes that insurers must consider as they ponder how to become more customer-centric in the bid to gain or retain customer loyalty.

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