Insurance firms gear up for enhanced customer experience

by Sohini Bagchi    Feb 28, 2013

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Businesses across verticals are increasingly using emerging technologies to improve their customer experience and the insurance sector is not an exception to the rule. A recent study by Capgemini and Efma on use of emerging technologies in the insurance industry reveals that mobile and social are the two areas the sector is banking on to support their overall customer experience.

In the past, insurance companies were using mobile as just one of the sales channels. Now it is more about customer engagement and also leveraging mobile in a more innovative manner to get a higher ROI. “We are seeing a lot of potential in mobile and social and are using these tools in areas such as offering quotes, claims and retaining a long term relationship with our existing clients as well as building new ones,” says Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, MD & CEO, Bharti AXA General Insurance. He adds that the Web continues to remain a powerful medium and will continue to enhance cost and service efficiency for insurance players.

However, experts note that while insurance customers prefer online for activities like finding best price and comparing policy coverage, they continue to prefer physical distribution networks including agents and brokers, when it comes to building trust. But that would not stop insurance firms from aggressively adopting mobile and social technologies.

Gain in mobility
The Capgemini-Efma report explores the leading mobile services offered today and those that have a high ROI potential over the next two years. According to the survey, product information through mobile that currently stands at 43 per cent will reach 91 per cent by 2015, claims services pegged at 16 per cent today is also expected to grow at 73 per cent by 2015 and finally quotes that stands at 23 per cent today will grow to 70 per cent in the next two years.

According to Ananthanarayanan, as far as mobility is concerned, the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices that connect customers and stakeholder anytime and from anywhere is the primary reason for insurance firms to invest in the mobile channel. Besides, it gives an edge over the competitors and enhances cross selling opportunities.

The increased adoption of smart devices will further boost this sector. According to research firm Gartner, 1.2 Billion smartphones and tablets will be sold worldwide in 2013 and most of the sales will come from the enterprise segment. Gartner analysts also predict insurance to be one of the fast growing segments to adopt emerging technologies such as mobile, social and cloud which it refers to as the nexus of forces.

Leveraging social media
Similarly, social media offers insurers new ways to increase their market penetration and increase the effectiveness of their customer retention/acquisition strategies. According to Capgemini-Efma study, over 59 per cent of insurance firms are already leveraging social media but very few have integrated it into their overall enterprise-wide CRM strategies leading to sub-optimal results.

“Integrating social media strategies with traditional CRM will create social CRM enabling enhanced positive experience for customers’ and insurer branding propositions,” observes Patrick Desmarès, Secretary General, Efma.

Experts also believe the other possible way for insurers to improve their customer experience ratings would be to look at the banking industry model. According to Dr. P. Nanadagopal, MD & CEO, IndiaFirst insurance, even though banks have many more interactions with customers, their high customer experience ratings indicate that best practices in mobile and data analytics, market segmentation and cross-channel integration are being implemented. However, he also points out that the industry is now undergoing massive transformation owing to constant economic pressure and heated competition. Insurance firms are increasing investing in emerging technology for better customer and agent experience and will enable self-service, cross-selling and multi-channel distribution capabilities through proper use of technology in the coming days.