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 assumptions have changed completely. But you need to look at the problem not from the industry point of view but through the eyes of 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 this will be through digital and social channels. And as long as customers are sharing information, insurers must be prepared to create content that can and will be shared; and this is not product fact sheets, it is education, advice and stories.
- Feel less loyal to an insurance provider and empowered to seek alternative insurance providers. Insurers cannot take customers for granted. An ongoing dialog valued by the customer is required.
- 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 a greater level of response from insurers and this may well be out of normal hours. Insurers must offer a comprehensive digital presence including websites that work on mobile phones and tablets.
Insurers at the carrier and agency level must develop and maintain a far higher level of digital and social competence. Digital platforms will often seem to be moving targets but that is no longer an excuse – this is the new reality. Winning insurers will:
- Understand that the customer journey is no longer about parking near the agency. It is about the combination of social media, blogs, website and remarketing to create and monitor multiple customer touchpoints.
- Not complain about the loss of organic distribution on Facebook. Access to the customer never been easier – the ability to reach an audience on Facebook or Google is unprecedented – but this requires an in-depth knowledge of how and when to buy access and how to measure the effectiveness.
- Create content that the customer finds effective for them on the device they choose. Gone are the days of a single handout – now you must offer video, graphical, textual, bullets, long form, and audio.
Social and digital knowledge is required crucial at every point of the insurance sales and support chain. So returning to the premise of this article – social media has failed to disrupt the industry – that maybe be true but what has changed is the customer. So if you have not changed, you are likely not meet the customers new expectations.