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The future is now

02 August 2015 Steve Piper, FMI

In the Age of the Customer, attracting and maintaining client relationships, is about creating an expectation and delivering on the experience, because the customer experience is the new black and the new end goal. Today, if we want to create a loyal customer base, then we need to interact with new customers as they demand, and expect.

Today’s potential customers are digitally savvy and want to be marketed at, where they are playing online, via apps, by call centres and social media. Insurance cover can be researched and compared, with pricing negotiated online, by customers who demand simplicity, competitive pricing, and hassle free transactions, where nurses appear magically and conveniently, to help confirm policies that must be flexible enough to be amended randomly and repeatedly over the short-term.

Customer-centric world

Our future customers want personalised contact, are comfortable that they know what a fair and reasonable product price should be, and expect us, as insurers, to be available 24 hours a day. US research giant Gartner, maintains that the strategy to be adopted requires multiple technologies and process changes to obtain success, with digitalisation radically transforming the insurance industry, enabling new products, services and business models. As a result of this, the balance of power has shifted to the customer.

We have to take heed of the customer behaviour trends increasingly evident across the broader market place. Our target market wants to be the centre of attention. This is the ‘me’ generation, and it is not limited to potential customers currently under forty – it is a contagious mind-set change that is altering expectations across our entire future client base. We need to provide better, less complex and more innovative products, with increased service levels, as insurance players in a digital economy and ask questions such as:

• Do we know what our customers want now?
• What do our competitors offer that we should also offer?
• How do our customers actually feel about us?
• What are we doing that works and what should we stop doing that is not working?
• Are we price competitive?
• Do we know what our customers will want in the future?
• What can we introduce that differentiates us?

Acquaintances and loyal supporters

Negativity and pessimism seem omnipresent in this new millennium. The popular response to this sense, that all is not well with society, is to seek immediate gratification, to live in the present tense, and to look after number one.

As insurers and advisers the personalisation, or perceived personalisation, of our relationships with our customers will be a key differentiator, as we seek to create loyal supporters. A loyalty programme does not create loyalty – our behaviour does. Our customers need to become an extension of our marketing strategies – socially spreading the word about how we have improved their lives, about the ease of interaction we offer, and how we are not like everyone else in the industry – we are different, and we really do care.

Racing to be a pioneer

Not too long ago Early Adopters were the minority, the brave few that we looked to for guidance. Now it seems that everyone is racing to be a pioneer, to be able to have an edge, and an advantage over everyone out there.

We as insurers need to adapt by:

• Listening to our customers – they are smarter then we realise;
• Giving our customers what they want – digitally and simply;
• Innovating and not imitating;
• Taking note of emerging new demographic segments;
• Leaving the baggage of past behaviours behind;
• Picking up the phone and calling our advisers regularly;
• Communicating with policy holders – digitally and personally; and
• Keeping brands relevant.

Now is not the time to dilly-dally. As insurers we need to discard our entrenched modus operandi, circumvent our own red tape, embrace the change we create ourselves, and pay close attention to what the market expects from us. The future is now.

Quick Polls

QUESTION

Which aspect do you think is most critical for the future success of financial advisory firms?

ANSWER

Embracing technological advancements
Rethinking fee structures
Focusing on inter-generational wealth transfer
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