We talk all the time about “improving the customer experience.”  But what does that really mean for insurance companies?

The Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research Study has tracked the intentions and actions of consumers around the world for the past ten years.  There is no doubt, based on this research, that dramatic changes have taken place over that time.  For example, five years ago, 78 percent of consumers said they used at least one online channel when prospecting.  Today, that number is 88 percent.  Similarly, consumers today rely much more on other people’s experiences or reviews to inform their purchase decisions.

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The authors of the Pulse Research Study estimate that consumers’ increased willingness to switch providers – especially after experiencing what they consider to be poor service – has created a “switching economy” that accounts for an estimated $6.2 trillion in revenue opportunity for providers in 17 key markets, including insurance.

For insurers, basic elements of the digital customer experience should include:

  • Better use of the corporate website – the impact of the corporate website has been weak, especially in the last five years.
  • Convergence among channels – only 14 percent of consumers agree strongly that companies are providing a positive customer experience through convergence between new digital, mobile and social channels and traditional channels such as agents and call centers.
  • Improved “first-contact resolution” – consumers express frustration with the way companies handle problems on the first contact with the company. Property and casualty insurers are particularly vulnerable here as unresolved claims issues are a major factor in driving away customers.

Many insurers are taking steps to deal with these and other issues related to the customer experience.  The question is whether they can do so quickly enough to catch up with rapidly evolving customer demands.  With new competitors circling and customers more willing to switch than ever, there is an understandable sense of urgency on this subject.

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