Efficient service, polite staff and value for money trump innovation, say insurance customers.

Although many consumers are expressing interest in the new value propositions being offered by insurers, carriers still need to make sure that they’re providing the best possible value for money. It’s clear that insurance customers want both “brilliant basics” and innovative “bundled value-propositions”. Insurers that market themselves as pioneers of innovative technology, but neglect traditional customer service, risk alienating their policyholders.

Indeed, our Global Financial Services Consumer Study found that consumers in today’s digital environment still expect and value, above other considerations, fast and efficient service, prompt resolution of problems, access to polite and knowledgeable staff and value for money. They view these conventional features of customer service to be more important than, for example, loyalty schemes, personalized product recommendations or well-marketed brands.

When questioned on why they left their previous financial services provider, only 11 percent of the 47 000 consumers we surveyed pointed to a lack of commitment to innovation as the reason for their dissatisfaction. Half of the consumers switched because their provider increased costs or no longer offered competitive pricing. Concerns about data security prompted 38 percent of consumers to leave their provider. Poor service was cited by 35 percent while 29 percent said they changed to another provider because they no longer felt valued as a customer.

Consumers’ insistence on high levels of personal attention doesn’t signal a rejection of the many digital innovations introduced by insurers. Not at all. It’s simply a sign that consumers are realizing that they hold the whip-hand. They increasingly expect the sort of personalized, simple and customer-friendly experience they already get from the GAFAs, retailers and the fast-growing array of insurtech insurance providers.

It’s clear that most consumers are not interested in innovation for its own sake. What they are interested in are the service improvements that innovation can provide.

Our research shows that most insurance customers want their providers to understand them better and to use new technologies to improve the quality of their service and the range of their offerings. They’re particularly keen to have quick and easy access to their insurer, and the products they require, from a variety of different physical and digital channels.  Two thirds of the customers we canvassed said they didn’t mind how they communicated with their insurer provided they could get what they wanted quickly and easily.

We’ve reached a tipping point in the insurance industry. Most customers now want to engage with their providers through a seamless suite of multiple service channels rather than be restricted to using an office or branch network. Physical outlets will continue to be important but not as an alternative to digital channels. Instead they will be key components within a bundle of channels that provide customers with the flexible service they demand.

The user experience, particularly the speed and ease with which customers can engage with their insurer, is becoming more important to consumers than the price and range of products available to them. Innovation should be judged not by its technical sophistication. Rather, it should be measured by its ability to delight customers. As I was studying some of the 395 submissions we received for the Efma-Accenture Insurance Innovation Awards, I saw some amazing examples of companies applying technology to delight customers. I really recommend that you take a look at the Efma insurance innovation database. It contains plenty of impressive examples such as AXA Partners’ PLEEZ digital personal assistant that combines artificial intelligence and human expertise to provide highly-tailored concierge services.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how insurers can best develop a multi-channel distribution strategy that strengthens ties with customers. In the meantime, I think you might find these links useful.

2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study

The Trust Imperative

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