Insurance Enterprises Sense the Real Need for Better CRM
Posted on January 27, 2010 by Dale Wolf
Insurance businesses are more relationship-based, with accounts characterized by a longer life cycle of customer loyalty and less turnover. As a result, the insurance industry has always presented a more pronounced need for upselling, and also relies heavily on blended inbound and outbound service centers, in support of direct mail initiatives to accomplish marketing and revenue goals. Insurance marketing uses a heavy program of customer acquisition initiatives with a low rate of return.
Printed documents and the phone remain the primary channels for interaction with insurance customers, but these traditional media are now joined with Internet, email and wireless media that will demand more innovative uses of technology than insurers have required in the past.
For example, while customers will tend to remain dependent upon their insurance agents to be kept up-to-date on product availability, they will turn to self-service for routine account maintenance and for responses to FAQs. This movement toward self-service options appears to be gaining acceptance in the auto and health insurance industries, with a slower movement toward self-service in the life and property and casualty areas.
Goals We Hear Most Often from Insurance Marketers:
· Gain a better understanding of what consumers need so we can improve service
· Get, keep and grow our distribution channel
· Find new ways to support the channel so agents can make good product recommendations and cross-sell and upsell more effectively
· Reduce the cost of sales and marketing
· Improve customer self-service and transaction processing
· Respond more efficiently to regulatory compliance
Those insurance marketers who get best at understanding the needs of individual customers and who get best at supporting their agent networks to respond to these consumer demands will be more successful.
Financial products are invisible, intangible. They become an experience instead of a product you can hold in your hand. As such, every touchpoint you have with prospective and current customers and with agents can impact this experience. It cannot be neutral; each touch will either build or erode on the experience.
Despite an historic culture that is product-centric, insurers now are looking for ways to retain customers and to better manage their relationships so they can grow profitable business. As such, customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives are a high business priority – but few CRM initiatives have yet succeeded in creating the needed improvements in the communications output that proactively forms the relationship between insurer and customer.
Marketers at insurance enterprises sense the real need. They recognize that innovative customer communications can represent a source of differentiation – in itself a potential growth driver in a world of “me too” products.