We’re all familiar with the J.D. Power customer satisfaction surveys, those annual rankings of personal lines insurance companies and what they’re doing—or failing to do—to gain and retain customers.

Year after year, these studies suggest that insurance buyers, empowered by digital rate comparison and online quoting capabilities, are more willing to switch providers for a lower premium price.

However, the most recent J.D. Power study on auto insurance satisfaction suggests a marked reversal of this trend. The study finds that Gen Y customers are increasingly satisfied with their auto insurance experience because of improvements across all interaction channels. In general, overall customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, with millennials being the most satisfied with their insurers, increasing 21 points over 2014.

And although the fact that insurers are offering increased digital capabilities is partly responsible for this improvement, there’s another component involved—and that’s the availability of a real, live human to assist in the trickier transactions that arise in the insurance experience. The Power study finds that one-fourth of the millennial respondents would rather talk to someone in person or over the phone to discuss price changes, and 23 percent prefer a live transaction to the website when it comes to answering coverage questions.

This customer preference points to the insurance agent as the key component in customer satisfaction—when that relationship is handled with care.

Next time I’ll examine the pivotal role that agents play in customer satisfaction—and how not all of them are doing things right.

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