For better or worse, technology has transformed our world, and the changes show no sign of slowing. With information available as close as your keyboard (or wearable device), today’s consumers are well equipped to shop and compare providers for just about everything. Review sites like Yelp allow them to spread the word about companies they love—or hate. And the sharing economy that gave us Uber and Airbnb means consumers don’t even have to deal with traditional businesses if they choose not to—they can deal directly with other consumers!

Over the last decade, consumer dynamics across sectors have deeply changed. Accenture’s 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Research looks at where customer engagement is headed and how insurers can meet them there.

Compared to 10 years ago:

  • 51 percent of consumers rely much more on other people’s experiences or reviews to inform their decisions
  • 69 percent say they’re making much better-informed decisions about providers
  • 66 percent say the number of companies they consider has increased significantly
  • 59 percent are more likely to switch from one provider to another.

For today’s consumers:

  • 88 percent use at least one online channel when prospecting
  • 41 percent want more digital interaction than offered by providers
  • 44 percent would be open to offers from companies not part of “traditional” players
  • 43 percent would be open to products or services from other consumers rather than companies.

The ubiquity of digital devices makes every customer a digital customer, although there are variances between the types of users. Our report chunks users into four basic groups:

  • Traditional users rely on traditional channels and interactions, but even then, they leave digital traces.
  • Experimental users selectively engage in digital for utility value, discovering how the experience improves.
  • Transitional users strive to leverage digital more broadly but may not always be able to do so.
  • Digital savvy users make digital technology part of all dimensions in their life, with mobile access the key.

This means that insurers must be positioned to reach these buyers at whatever digital level they prefer.

Digital has also changed the path to purchase for consumers – from a linear arrangement to something that’s circular:

Nonstop customer model: capturing new dynamics
View the image.

This new approach means insurers must pivot to a new customer model that’s more relevant to new digital behaviors, which are accelerated by technology.

Next week we’ll take a closer look at consumer loyalty and the “switching economy,” and what it means to insurance. In the meantime please download the report Capturing the insurance customer of tomorrow: Three key questions to guide success

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