Insurers are concentrating on the wrong priorities. Customers want convenience and personalisation but that is not seen as their main focus by market professionals.

“What our customers are telling us” is an overused sound bite used by numerous Industry Heavyweights giving the impression they really understand their market. The reality is often the opposite. Although most companies believe they are consistently giving customers what they want, often they are woefully wide of the mark. When asked to prioritise what matters most to them when dealing with Protection companies, consumers put their requirements in the following order:

  1. Minimised time and effort
  2. Personalisation
  3. Company shows integrity
  4. Enquiry resolution
  5. Expectation managed
  6. Customer empathy

A survey of protection professionals revealed Industry has these perceived customer priorities:

  1. Customer empathy
  2. Company shows integrity
  3. Enquiry resolution
  4. Time and effort minimised
  5. Expectation managed
  6. Personalisation

This uncovers a frightening mismatch between what customers really want and what the protection industry think their customers want. In fact, marketers appear to be concentrating on the issue that is of least importance to the customer – empathy, whilst the most important considerations for customers – minimised time and effort and personalisation, are way down the list.

A survey of over 360 firms carried by Bain and Company uncovered a similar gap between perception and reality. 80% of those firms surveyed believed they delivered a “superior experience”, however when feedback was requested from their customers, only 8% believed the companies were really delivering.

So how do we close this delivery gap? A G Lafley, CEO of Proctor and Gamble is in no doubt: “I am a broken record when it comes to saying ‘We have to focus on the consumer”…’From an Insurance industry perspective, this means allowing customers to transact with minimal time and effort through whichever distribution channel they prefer and to personalise their buying experience. In my view, this can only be achieved by aligning the culture of an Organisation to focus on the needs of the customer first. Leaders need to be open- minded and most importantly move away from a Silo-structure and concentrate on three priorities:

  • Design the right proposition for the right customer (personalisation). This must involve allowing the customer to interact across a variety of channels from mobile to telephone or face to face. It should also allow customers to fulfil multiple product needs seamlessly from the same Company without the ‘silo’ focus of product leaders getting in the way.
  • Deliver these systems at the lowest possible cost whilst always focusing on simplicity for the customer. Reduce their time and effort!
  • Develop the institutional capability to do the above again and again.

In many cases, this will take courage and a real sense of urgency from the top. It needs a common focus on customer not product and it needs the right technology.

To finish where we began, protection customers want a personalised service delivered in a way that makes it easy for them to transact with the minimum of time and effort. Sounds simple and although the reality is far from that, we have spent years developing sophisticated software that delivers both ease of use and personalisation – so we can absolutely confirm it is possible.