Episode 092 — The Digital Broker Podcast

Focus on the Customer: There Is No Scaling Without It

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On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds interviews Chris Frankland, Head of InsurTech Partnerships at ReSource Pro, about the impact of technology on customer experience. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • How technology can affect the customer experience either positively or negatively, and what to keep in mind to avoid alienating your customers.
  • Why even the best technology in the world is useless if you don’t understand your customers.
  • What the banking industry and others can teach us about how to discover and develop customer-minded solutions.

Many conversations about technology begin with how to make employees’ jobs easier. There is not always as big a focus on how to make the customer’s life better.

In a way, the two are related: when employees are taken care of, they’re in a better position to take care of customers in return. But an excess of technology, or the irresponsible use of technology, can alienate a customer and leave a lasting, negative impression.

We just finished talking about the customer experience. Emotion is a huge part of it, especially in insurance. When people file a claim, they are vulnerable, having recently suffered damage to themselves or their property. Is this really the time to make a customer talk to a chatbot?

Even when the customer is on the line with a human being, the customer experience can be frustrated by inefficiency. “I don’t want to be transferred between three or four different departments and have to repeat my information each time,” says Chris Frankland, Head of InsurTech partnerships at ReSource Pro. “There is still a lot of work to be done around understanding who the customer is. At some agencies and carriers, there are three or four different versions of the same customer. Without that data in the right order and format, adding more technology only makes the problem worse.”

In other words, even the best technology in the world is useless if you don’t know your customer—and many insurance agencies still don’t. Without the customer in mind, you can forget about scaling. The biggest companies in the world have gotten huge precisely because they’ve put the customer experience at the center of their products. Amazon, as usual, is a great example. So is Netflix: when you sign in, everything is as you would expect to find it. All the movies and shows you were watching are right there, coupled with suggestions on what else you might like to watch.

Of course, insurance isn’t Netflix. For a more applicable example, we could look to the banking industry. Ryan recently switched to a bank that allows customers to withdraw money from an ATM with an app. At first, Ryan didn’t think he would be using this app at all—but after the third or fourth time that he misplaced his ATM card or left it at home, the app became his best friend. Someone at Bank of America must have realized that this is how a customer would want to bank, and Frankland implores insurance agencies to start having the same conversations.  “How much of the customer experience can we or should we automate? How much of it can we put on mobile?”

Then again, banking and insurance are different. People have a different relationship with their banks than they do with their insurance agencies. Ryan Deeds works in the insurance industry, and he’s the first to admit that “I don’t ever want to deal with my insurance until I have a claim.” But he also didn’t think he would be comfortable using an app to withdraw money from an ATM. Are there ways to interact with customers that insurance agencies are overlooking?

Frankland thinks so. “To this day, with my life insurance policy, I don’t really know what I’m covered for or where I would even go to find out. There’s a lot that we could do through automated, mobile solutions. I could see what I’m covered for. I could add people to my policy. I could look at other policy recommendations. There are so many opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.”

Agencies owe it to their customers to start exploring these opportunities. There might be pushback. Maybe there was pushback in the banking industry when somebody proposed cardless ATM withdrawals. But it’s pushback worth overcoming, because the status quo is unsustainable. It’s time to start focusing on the customer, to know, as Frankland advises, “what the customer’s needs are and to develop ways to respond to them quickly and through multiple channels. Adopting that type of approach is now critical in the insurance world.”

Many ideas begin with a conversation, and that’s what we try to kickstart inside the Digital Broker LinkedIn group. We also post information about upcoming episodes. Come meet and talk to hundreds of insurance agents, brokers, and specialists who are passionate about operational excellence. Click here to join.

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