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Insurance customers benefit human advisers




Successful multi-channel distribution strategies will combine the speed and efficiency of digital services with the credibility and experience of human advisors.

Insurance customers enthusiastically respond to the multi-channel distribution networks introduced by Manulife, Ping An and other innovative carriers. They enjoy the convenience of quickly and easily accessing their provider with a variety of digital and physical channels.

But successful multi-channel networks require more than just easy access. What is also necessary is the right mix of automated and human contact with customers. Consumers tend to like the speed and convenience of digital services, especially when performing administrative tasks, but hankering for human attention when seeking advice. It is important that the insurance companies get the balance right. If not, many customers will likely move their credibility to suppliers who better meet their needs.

Two-thirds of the 47,000 consumers we polled for our Global Financial Services Consumer Study said they didn't mind any digital or physical channel they used to communicate with their insurer or bank. Their main concern was to be able to get what they want quickly and with little trouble.

More than half of the insurance clients we investigated preferred to use digital channels when searching for product information or updating personal information with their vendor. However, just over half of these customers wanted to talk to a consultant, either by phone or face-to-face, when changing the terms of a policy or making a claim.

"For complex financial decisions, you usually have drum comfort."

The popularity of face-to-face contact among insurance customers varied in different markets and was often affected by the maturity and reliability of digital services in those areas. The more complex the requirement, the greater the likelihood of a consumer seeking human assistance rather than choosing an automated digital service.

For complex financial decisions, usually rely on drum. Fifty-eight percent of consumers said they trusted a human adviser in a branch to help them make insurance claims and 54 percent agreed that they would trust such a person to give them advice on products and services. However, only 1

2 percent said they would rely on an automated service to help them with these tasks. Chat robots, or robot services, in branches were found to be even less credible.

Good news for insurers and their distributors is that many consumers are willing to pay for human attention and advice when they need to make critical decisions. Thirty percent of consumers reported that they would be very likely to pay for a human adviser in a branch to help them send an insurance claim. Similarly, 35 percent stated that they would be very likely to pay for advice in a branch to discuss appropriate products and services. Just under a further 30 percent of consumers reported that they would "reasonably likely" be willing to pay for industry consulting to perform these two key tasks.

Much fewer consumers stated that they were very willing to pay for human assistance over the phone. Only 22 percent were very likely to be willing to pay for such help for product advice while 25 percent had a similar attitude to making insurance claims. Consumers were even less eager to pay for assistance from intelligent robot services. Only 14 percent said they were likely to be willing to pay for robot assistance in a branch when looking for appropriate insurance products or services, and 12 percent had a similar claim to claim.

For multichannel insurance distribution to thrive, carriers need to combine fast and efficient digital facilities for basic transactions with human competence and experience of counseling and high claims on claims services. The right balance between these offers, as well as the right mix of personal advisors on site and call centers, varies between different markets and different customer segments. The need for correct and timely insight into changing market trends and changing customer behavior has never been more important. In my next blog post, I discuss how insurers can get a better understanding of their customers in the digital market. Meanwhile, take a look at these links. I'm sure you'll find them useful.

2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study

Trust Imperative


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