What I’ve tried to show in my previous posts is that there is a huge opportunity in retirement services, but to capitalize on it, insurers need to adapt to a changing marketplace. They also need to ensure that they remain relevant as their customers evolve. This is easier said than done, but I believe there are four vital steps that will help ensure long-term success:

1. Gain a deep understanding of the customer

Most carriers aren’t short of data—they’re short of the right data. What they need is structured, as well as unstructured data from all parts of the enterprise that can be integrated to provide a coherent, detailed picture of their customers. By starting with the outcomes they require, they can learn what data they need and how to get it. Then, with sophisticated analysis and predictive modeling—supported by the cloud—they can produce the actionable insights that will allow them to become more relevant to individual customers.

2. Think radically about the future

The future is likely to be very different, and life insurers need to review their strategies in the light of their newfound understanding of their customers rather than what worked in the past. New technologies—from mobile payments and para-currencies to geo-localization and automated advice—should be considered, and novel alliances explored to find ways of enhancing the value proposition. Crucially, insurers should collaborate with regulators to find new ways of meeting customers’ needs, after all, you’re both in the business of serving the best interests of the customer. What’s more, a close relationship with the regulator could serve as a defensive strategy that makes it more difficult for new competitors to come in under the radar.

3. Develop new capabilities

To do the new things customers want will require new capabilities in areas like analytics, digital marketing, mobility and social media. These could be developed internally, or externally through alliances or outsourcing. Leveraging cloud services would allow new capabilities to be developed in months rather than years, and in a manner that would keep costs down and shift the IT investment from capital to operational expenditure.

4. Become authentically customer-centric

A deep understanding of customers, using detailed data, enables highly granular segmentation. The next steps are to define the experience strategy, carry out experience design and deliver an array of tailored, multi-channel experiences. To do this—and to help agents personalize their approach for each of their customers—you will need an industrialized experience engine. This will propose offerings and actions for each segment and maintain a consistent “dialog” with customers across both human and digital channels. All of these will take you closer to your ultimate goal of building relationships at scale.

These, I believe, are steps that every insurer must take if it is to succeed in growing its share of the huge global retirement services market. In my final post next week I will explain why most insurers will fall short of this goal. If you weren’t following this series from the beginning, you can find the other posts here.

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