very different for P&C personal lines, small/mid-market/large
commercial, specialty lines, workers’ comp, term/permanent
life, disability insurance, and the rest.
What Influences the Customer (Policyholder)
For all lines of business, it is important to understand what
influences the experience of the policyholder. Four broad categories of influence are shown in Figure 2: brand, value, relationships, and communications. Exploring these factors also helps
to understand the role of the agent/producer.
Brand reputation typically plays an important role in a
customer’s perceptions of an insurer and their willingness to do
business. Since insurance contracts are promises to be fulfilled
in the future (if necessary), the brand is especially important.
The product itself, in the context of the price and the ultimate
performance, is of critical importance. The other factors that
influence the experience will become less important if a claim
is not handled satisfactorily or a product with an investment
component has a poor financial return.
In a direct world, the brand and value are completely related
to the insurer. However, for some segments the brand of the
intermediary may play a more important role, with the insurer
underwriting the risk or providing the investment product
as a secondary consideration. For complex risk and financial
situations, it is likely that the intermediary will continue to have
a role in helping the policyholder get the best value.
Relationships and communications have major roles to play
in the overall experience of the policyholder. For P&C personal
lines and term-life products, agent relationships are likely to become less important over time as individuals increasingly go direct and digital. This is especially true as younger age segments
develop greater needs for insurance and the demographics of
the insurance-buying public start to shift.
In these cases, the relationships based on social networks
and the digital world become more important. The agent play
here is to be part of those social networks and provide a broader
set of advice and assistance to the customer. Communications
are where the rubber meets the road. The interactions related to
the policy are vital—both sales and service interactions, whether they are digital, print or personal. The increasingly important
aspect of communications is the interaction with customers
through and across different channels.
What is a True Omni-Channel Environment?
The discussion of multiple channels leads us to review the
omni-channel idea. Omni-channel is not multi-channel. Many
in the industry have been operating in multi-channel environments for years. What distinguishes omni-channel from
multi-channel? There are a number of different attributes to
consider in this analysis:
K Brand consistency: In a true omni-channel environment,
a single, consistent brand should be presented regardless of
the channel or the type of interaction. In multi-channel operations, brand inconsistencies sometimes appear, creating
the impression that the customer is dealing with different
K Data entry: Insurers providing multiple channels for interaction often require the customer or customer service rep
to re-key data. While the industry has been improving integration between channels, there is still a significant amount
of rework/re-entry when switching between channels.
Omni-channel should result in no re-entry of data.
K Customer awareness: A 360-degree view of the customer
is essential in an omni-channel world. This enables every
transaction and exchange to be conducted within the right
context, resulting in a better experience for the customer.
The 360-degree view is possible in a multi-channel environment, but very difficult to present in real time to inform
every touch point.
K Content management: “Create once, use anywhere” is
the mantra for omni-channel. Digital content created for
the web can be leveraged by an agent or contact center. In
multi-channel situations, the content is often created separately for each channel.
K Timing/synchronization: Omni-channel demands real-time synchronization. The nature of omni means that if