This blog is part of series exploring the nature of customer-centricity. Read the preceding blog.

There’s a small boy still lurking inside every man, and I confess I still dream about jumping into a taxi and saying “Follow that car!” just like in the movies. It’s probably never going to happen, but I still get a kick thinking about it. Yet the truth is that, as businesspeople, as would-be digital insurers, we really should be spending more time thinking about where our customers are and where they are going—and then following them.

Last week, I discussed new techniques for finding out about your customers via new approaches to segmentation, this week let’s talk about the omni-channel world and what it means for organizations involved in insurance.

We all know that this is now a omni-channel world, and any company that is selling anything—insurance, cars, steel or sable coats—must address this reality, and be prepared to interact with customers seamlessly and consistently across all channels.

Here’s the carrot: Customers who shop on at least two channels spend more money.

Here’s the stick: It’s not enough to have a great app, an engaging website and a perfect contact center. If you don’t integrate all the channels to deliver a consistent customer experience, all that additional cost is worthless and you risk actually alienating your customers.

The chief culprit here is the typical corporate organizational structure with its distinctive silos—insurance companies, and financial services generally, are very likely to be guilty of this. A new organizational blueprint is what’s required so that once you understand what motivates your customers, you can deliver.

One word of advice: remember that becoming omni-channel and digital does not lessen the requirement for the personal touch. Just as most retail sales are made in store, even though part of the sales cycle is online, so intermediaries remain important in insurance.

2013 Digital Insurance Survey: Insurers commit to digital transformation as a lever of high performance
Ready the survey report.

(Just as an aside, I continue to be impressed at the way in which retailers like Burberry are able to combine the two in their stores.)

Accenture’s recent Digital Insurance Survey showed that physical channels continue to play the major part in customer servicing (57 percent of the total), with the call center providing 29 percent. Those percentages are set to drop to 47 percent and 27 percent respectively over the next three years, but personal contact is not set to diminish. Over the same period, of course, digital channels will increase from 7 to 20 percent. Read the survey report.

The point here is that the customer will dictate which channels are used, and the insurer has to ensure that he or she gets consistent treatment across them all. This is true whether you are in the B2C, B2B or B2B2C spaces.

Next time, I’ll focus a little more closely on the organizational implications of customer-centricity.

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