Insurance, at its core, is a service industry. Good customer service has always been an industry imperative. Given that backdrop, what is driving today's hyperfocus on customer experience? It's a combination of intense competition for premium dollars, innovative service designs, pervasive technology, and comparative experiences. 

Insurers are competing against the best service providers across a host of industries. Customers are accustomed to "new era" service from all kinds of businesses (e.g., Uber, OnStar, FedEx), which automatically raises their expectations regardless of industry. So when a customer receives disappointing service, it really stands out. And with today's social media platforms, it's easy for customers to trumpet their disappointment. All it takes is two minutes and a click of a button to post a scathing review. 

Complicating things further is that the convenience enabled by technology has also made customer allegiances increasingly's easier now to switch to a competitor who has a better Yelp reputation or a better app. To combat all this, businesses are investing heavily in customer experience innovation. Insurance is no exception.

By Design
Delivering a superior customer experience is a powerful differentiator that builds allegiance and drives growth and profitability. But designing that experience and delivering it consistently is remarkably complex, especially in our highly-regulated industry. We can attest to that, having designed many customer experience programs for insurers. Here are some guiding principles:

  • Customer service is transactional; customer experience is strategic.
  • Customers want an emotionally satisfying experience. Ironically, the core transaction can often be secondary to the overall experience. Ask a Lexus owner about this.
  • Customer experience is by design. It's not just good faith, culture, process, technology,'s all of those things and more, orchestrated within a tailored customer experience model.
  • Customers can be the source of innovation - listen carefully!

A major part of customer experience design complexity is integrating it into core technologies. Consider these best practices:

  • "Keep the customer in the room" throughout the technology deployment process - from design through testing through operational rollout. This responsibility should be assigned to specific individuals with clear accountabilities.
  • Incorporate analytics that identify which customers drive the most value and what's uniquely important to them.
  • Build in measures, feedback mechanisms, and control points that feed a formal continuous improvement program across your service channels. The goal is for customers to consistently say, "I got what I needed, it was easy, and I felt good about it." This is the secret sauce of retention, referrals, and brand strength.
  • Don't allow security and privacy requirements to dominate the customer experience. Strong security and streamlined authentication are not mutually exclusive.
  • Make it just as easy for a customer to access a service agent as it is to access web self-service.

Given the trends in customer expectations and competitive differentiation, a question of strategic importance to every carrier is: Is your organization doing the right things to deliver a satisfying and competitive customer experience?