Historically, the customer came to you. After cold-calling, sending letters or postcards in the mail, or networking, a prospect made an appointment to come to an advisor’s office and talk about their insurance needs. The insurance industry wasn’t known for being overly focused on the customer, but even pre-COVID, this had begun to change. 

We recently hosted Dan Shinnick, CEO of National Mutual Benefit on an episode of The Breathing Room. During this discussion, he mentioned that the “Industry has started to move towards putting the customer first because a few disruptors from the outside have forced us to change.” 

Customers want a great experience, but they often don’t want to meet face to face, especially in today’s reality. They’ve come to expect an instantaneous experience – whether it’s clicking “buy” on a retailer’s app or applying for life insurance.

Insurers can leverage the abundance of technology now available to better meet customers. One of the first customer expectations that an insurer can meet when they partner with an InsurTech platform is speed. Gone are the days when an underwriting decision could take up to a month to process (longer for high-dollar policies). As Shinnick put it, “Consumers are expecting the same instantaneous customer experience in everything that they do.”

Turnaround time is now measured in hours, not days or months. A robust platform with built-in underwriting capabilities can now process an application within minutes, in some cases. 

Customers also demand quality and aren’t shy about leaving negative online reviews. Word of mouth used to bring a referral through your office’s doors, but now it brings them to your website. A seamless process and a well-designed website – where it’s easy to find answers and talk to either a bot or a person – helps incumbents meet this demand.

Note that I said “well-designed.” It’s not enough to see technology as the be-all and end all to meeting new consumer demands. The technology needs to be user-focused, with a strong emphasis on UX design. 

A component of quality, which also fulfills the customer demand for transparency, is education. Today’s consumer will take the time to educate themselves about a product, compare it to a competitor, and read reviews. Insurers who invest the time in developing a robust knowledge base – both online and by maintaining a strong advisor network – will reap the rewards. 

Even with a full suite of digital tools, insurers must still help the customer, continually improve processes, and stand ready to educate. Shinnick believes that “as an industry, one of the big things we need to figure out is how do we help the customer to understand that they need insurance. We need to help them pick the right insurance and help them take action instead of putting it off.” Personalized service, and products, helps capture consumers’ business. 

Technology can help incumbents move from a siloed organization to multichannel and responsive, but it can also make things worse if we aren’t thinking about the customers. At National Mutual Benefit, they’re hiring a senior leader of customer experience whose job it’ll be to make sure they’re putting the customer first as they design processes.

Technology is a great enabler. Companies can do everything virtually, underwrite instantly, and meet the customer where they are to complete the sale. But only if they maintain the fine balance between digital advancement and consumer demand.