This article is part 1 of a two-part series explaining what the insurance industry can learn from the automotive industry. This first article describes the road map for creating a best-in-class insurance customer experience. The second article will describe landing page tactics designed to increase sales and retention.

Despite efforts to improve their customer digital experience, insurers received alarming news in 2015 from two industry studies (Capgemini and Temkin). The studies report record-breaking drops in customer experience satisfaction.

Why is satisfaction with the insurance industry’s customer experience diminishing?

While all ages voiced fewer positive experiences, there was a sharper decline when it came to servicing Gen Y (18 to 34 years old). Gen Y’s dissatisfaction runs deeper because for them, great digital experiences are the price of entry when it comes to a purchase.

Consumer adoption of mobile is another big factor. User experience trends reveal that 62 percent of companies that design a website specifically for mobile increase their profits. There are now more mobile-only consumers than there are desktop-only consumers. And 60 percent of the time that consumers clock in the digital world happens on mobile devices.

When it comes down to it, insurers are failing to deliver a customer experience on par with other industries. Expectations have been radically raised by the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple.

What can other industries teach insurers?

Each industry has its own nuances that affect the customer experience. The industry that comes the closest to mirroring insurers’ challenges is the automotive industry. There are a number of parallels between the insurance industry and the automotive industry. Both industries:

  • Must transform from a product-focused sales process to a customer-centric focus. (Capgemini’s research reveals that customer-centric insurance companies with a strong digital presence are 26 percent more profitable.)
  • Have a distributed sales channel. The insurance industry relies on underwriters, agents, brokers and advisors to make a sale. Automotive companies rely on captive finance companies, finance departments, dealers and sales floor staff to move the metal off the showroom floor. Because of this fractured sales channel, integration in a secure way is a BIG challenge when it comes to third-party systems and breaking down silos. Technology solutions need to integrate easily with existing applications, systems and third-party applications with two-way feeds or web services.
  • Sell products and services that are a combination of must-haves and discretionary options. Cross-selling and upselling are key at critical milestones. For insurers, it may be homeowners insurance, car insurance, rental insurance, business insurance, health insurance, etc. For automakers, it may be warranties, gap insurance, credit disability insurance, accessories, etc.
  • Are highly regulated when it comes to the financial part of the consumer transaction.
  • Serve the same challenging consumers. Customers that are busy, time-starved and looking for convenience, expedience and relevancy. They expect to use the Web to conduct business, and they expect an easy-to-use, fast experience. And most prefer the “Let me do it myself” option.

In contrast to insurance providers, automotive brands have been early adopters of digital channels. They are delivering targeted content and messaging with contextual meaning, which means the industry similarities and proven results provide insurance companies with a great example to follow — an example that captures a customer’s attention and increases customer profitability. What do automotive companies do that insurers can (should) do? Follow this roadmap.

The Road Map to Improving the Insurance Customer Experience

1. Document the customer journey

A customer journey map goes beyond what any possible data set can tell you. The map emphasizes the intersection of customer expectations and business requirements. It will help your organization gain and maintain a customer-centric view. The customer journey map documents your prototypical customers’ (or personas’) experience from the consideration phase to the renewal stage. The map provides you with the context in which customers interact with your brand. The process clearly identifies the opportunities across channels, devices and departments/partners/agents to reduce any gaps between what the customer wants and what the customer receives. This results in a stronger, longer lasting and more profitable relationship.

Great customer journey maps take an empathy-based approach. They comprehensively catalog and describe every aspect of the relationship between the customer and the brand. Read this article to learn how to create a customer journey map.

2. Create a content strategy

Best-in-class brands have an enterprise-wide data strategy that identifies the information necessary for delivering a personalized experience. Unfortunately, many organizations lack an enterprise-wide data strategy, especially one that includes all the life cycle touch points for a customer. A content strategy can help fill the gap.

It is important to clarify one common misunderstanding first: a content strategy is not the same as a content marketing strategy. A content strategy allows you to manage the business assets (useful information) you have in a way that more effectively delivers the relevant information your customers want. Unlike most other business assets, content (which includes data) lives in perpetuity and is flexible. You can repackage and repurpose it. That is why a content strategy is so critical. It creates and manages valuable customer information so that it can easily be shared over and over again. You will identify the content you need when you create your customer journey map.

3. Implement a life-cycle-management marketing strategy

The objective of the customer journey map is to find ways to deepen and extend the brand relationship over the life cycle of the customer. Best-in-class brands use well-timed, proactive, targeted communications to provide relevant information based on the customer’s life cycle, which makes a customer feel special. Offers and advice throughout the year combined with financial reminders and other pertinent information make for happy customers. If your only communication is a bill, you are not creating a relationship. You are reinforcing the belief that insurance is just a commodity and the cheapest policy is the best policy.

4. Work as a team

Companies that understand that no one organization or part of the sales channel owns the customer relationship reap the benefits of increased retention. Brands that integrate their online account services with their dealers (aka agents) and customer service centers score high with customers. Integrated systems track customers’ behaviors, such as the intention to repurchase. Sales automatically receives notifications and leads so they can proactively reach out to customers. Insurers can easily do the same thing with their agents. Some automotive companies also offer special deals from the customer’s preferred dealership.

5. Personalize the experience

Studies reveal that 82 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading customized content, which is not the same thing as inserting someone’s name or basic policy information. Today’s consumers expect an individual experience. If you provide a unique experience, you will be rewarded. reports that response rates are 300 percent better if you customize content than if you simply personalize a direct mail message. The brands that are succeeding today are the ones that give people the information they want, when they want it in a format that is meaningful to them.

Experts estimate that consumers’ attention span is somewhere between 8 seconds and the blink of an eye. By following these key steps, best-in-class automotive companies have learned how to stretch those precious few seconds into minutes. Last year, we sent over 3 million targeted emails on behalf of automotive companies. The emails directed current customers to a personal URL, which was either a self-service finance account or a landing page. The average visit was 2.5 minutes, with mobile visits being slightly shorter.

A critical element of online revenue generation is having a high-converting landing page. The hallmarks of a great landing page are a good user experience and relevant content. How to create this experience and capture a prospect’s attention is the subject of our next blog.

Secure technology solutions that can deliver a seamless and personal experience exist. Thanks to the cloud, solutions can integrate easily with existing applications, systems, third-party applications, legacy systems and proprietary technology (two-way feeds and/or web services).