There has been a seismic change in the way people and companies buy and sell services since the beginning of the pandemic. Salesforce data shows that 80% of business-to-business buyers have higher expectations of companies’ digital capabilities in the wake of pandemic-related disruptions. In the same study, 78% of business buyers said that they used more than one device to complete a single transaction and 73% said that they expect connected experiences across channels and departments when interacting with suppliers.
When it comes to individual buying habits, a recent Accenture report found that 49% of consumers are ready to switch to brands that offer product advice online and a “trade everywhere”; where transactions take place seamlessly over digital channels. In an Accenture survey of the insurance market, 48% of customers said that they prefer to open a new account or a new product on their computer and 34% said that they prefer to use a mobile app. Customers – both business leaders and individuals – are looking for digital experiences that are simpler, friendlier and more convenient.
This is not to say that the insurance agent channel will disappear soon. As my colleague Scott Stice says, “agents still own the lion’s share of the market and remain indispensable for insurance.” So it is still important to make sure that agents have the tools they need. But insurance companies that do not embrace digital channels also leave money on the table.
Companies with mature digital sales channels have several things in common. They can interact digitally with customers to a great extent, they can fully apply recommendation engines and a customized online store, and they use tools that generate true customer insights and plan further robust investments in data-driven insights. They also have the most standardized and automated sales processes and plan to invest heavily in this area and already have closely collaborating front office units.
For insurers who want to build a more efficient digital channel, I recommend that you develop key features, including:
- Digital customer engagement from end to end. To get in touch with individuals and small businesses, you need an interconnected set of digital tools and complementary channels for each step of the sales process.
- Proactive, tailored recommendations. Using a recommendation engine can help you lead customers or agents to the right products and coverage, providing a better experience and improved customer satisfaction.
- Predictive, data-driven customer insights. Leaders already use a 360-degree view of the customer and customer insights that use both first- and third-party data to target quotes.
- Automated, standardized sales processes. Automated processes mean cost savings and an improved conversion rate by giving consumers a simple and fast shopping experience.
- Collaborative front office operations. Leading companies promote strong collaboration between sales and marketing, front office and back office.
Although digital opportunities are now important for insurance companies that want to connect with an increasingly digital consumer, remember that there are generational differences – millennials and younger consumers are more interested in digital offerings, but those who are 55+ are slowly becoming more comfortable.
Moving customers to digital channels is an opportunity to reduce costs, expand the distribution reach and increase customer satisfaction and commitment. Insurance companies that do not actively operate digital sales channels risk losing customers to the operators who have mastered an omnichannel customer experience that includes the entire journey from first contact to purchasing and customer service.
In my next post, I will look at how you can rethink customer service to drive growth.
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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be used in consultation with our professional advisors.