Social media has had its day in the sun – it’s the disruptive technology that caused more of a ripple than a disruption – or at least that’s the perception in the insurance industry. That’s not a shock is it? The internet was guaranteed to turn the industry inside out and now insurtech is the next promised upheaval?
The mistake is to think that there will ever be a new paradigm or disruption. The insurance industry is too big and moves too slowly and is carefully protected by regulations for any new paradigm to take hold quickly. That’s not to say the industry isn’t evolving – you might not have noticed but in the past 5-7 years some key base assumptions have changed completely. Just think about the customer – they will now:
- Routinely research insurance online before ever contacting an insurance company or agent. Insurers need to know how to be found.
- Contact insurers through a variety of methods and not be content with using the insurers preferred route. This includes social media, text messaging, Facebook messenger and yes maybe even the phone – but a mobile one at that. Insurers must be actively listening.
- Seek advice and recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues as part of the insurance selection process. Some will be through word of mouth but increasingly it will be through digital and social channels. Insurers must read online reviews and be prepared to respond as well as providing an ongoing flow of content that enable people to share education, advice and information as proxy advocates.
- Feel less loyal to an incumbent insurance provider and empowered to seek alternative insurance providers. Insurers cannot take customers for granted and a constant dialog that is valued by the customer is required.
- Be more willing to call out perceived unsatisfactory business practices through public and social forums. Insurers must be more transparent with policies, claims, investments, and all internal processes.
- Demand faster and more out of normal hours responses to questions. Insurers must offer customers a comprehensive digital presence including responsive websites that support mobile phones and tablets as well as the add an ability to engage with customers out of business hours
Insurers at the carrier and agency level need to develop and maintain a higher level of digital and social competance. Digital platforms will change and will often seem to be moving targets but that can not be an excuse – this is now the new reality. This brings new challenges which include:
- We talk liberally about the customer journey – this used to be about availability of parking near the agency. Now it is bringing together social media, blogs, website content and remarketing to create multiple touchpoints as the customer travels on their journey.
- Facebook has pulled back on its free/organic reach but it doesn’t mean you can bemoan lack of access. The opposite is true – the ability to reach an audience on Facebook is unprecedented – but it requires in-depth knowledge of how and when to buy access and how to measure the effectiveness.
- Content must now be in a form the customer finds effective for them and on the device they choose. Gone are the days of a single handout – now you must consider video, graphical, textual, bulleted, long form, and audio.
Social and digital knowledge is required crucial at every point of the insurance sales and support chain. This is certainly not the case across the industry, so going back to the premise of this article – social media has failed to disrupt the industry – but maybe you just didn’t notice.