There is one undisputed fact about the customers of today when compared to those of a decade ago, they are different! They are knowledgeable; savvy; empowered and most importantly, demanding. Fail to deliver what they want and they will move on.

On top of that, the environment has changed. Customers expect more from life, but in terms of Financial Services, they do little forward planning and, in general, have little understanding or interest in insurance – this against a background of increased product choice and complication.

Multi-channel mix remains key:
Unfortunately many Life Insurers still operate in the same way that they have done for decades, with a ‘one size fits all’ sales and service model. Cross Industry Findings from the 2012 Global Consumer Pulse Research reveals that offering a multi-channel mix remains key to delivering customer satisfaction – with 57% of consumers finding it frustrating when they are not able to use the channel of choice to research and buy. Insurers need to do more to integrate phone, face to face and digital channels and make sure the customer can chose – not be herded down a channel that is most convenient for the provider.

Personalise the buying process:
Providers need to shift from a product-driven approach to one that focuses on the customer needs and solves multiple requirements. So not only does the buying experience need to be consistent across multiple channels, it must be personalised and include products applicable to the customer life stage – from young and single through the life cycle to retirement.

Build long term relationships:
Amazingly, most customers with a long term protection policy will hear little or nothing from the Insurer during the life of their plan. Little surprise then that they feel no loyalty – or can be easily persuaded to change Provider. Throughout the customer life cycle, there will be changes in protection need. Given the availability of rich customer insight with the right technology, Providers should be able to design and offer products appropriate to the actual life stages.

Simplify the underwriting process
Although easier said than done given the challenges of balancing underwriting with claims expectations, it is still essential to look at new ways of simplifying the application process without sacrificing the quality of cover. We are already seeing some Providers design simplified processes for a specific target audience and this is a great start. Customers are different and the underwriting process should reflect this. Why does a fit and healthy applicant who has not visited a doctor or had any time off work in the last 5 years have the same application process as his peer who has made regular visits to his GP? In addition, the time take to obtain information from the GP is no longer acceptable. Too much talk and not enough action – now is the time to make things happen!

If we are to really engage with the modern consumer and interest them in protection products, we have to recognise the need to be different to meet their changing demands.