Businesses should be agile and work alongside customers to co-create offerings, beginning right from the earliest stages of proposition development
By Prashant Tripathy
An increase in the volume of data, improved performance of AI and surge in digital platforms have provided customers with greater access to reliable information they require. With customers now possessing the power to pick and choose products that resonate and appeal to them the most, brands across industries have started adopting digital operations and strategies to help them remain relevant to their audiences in the digital era. While brands are actively looking for ways to transform their business model to become more customer-centric, many struggle to implement it or just don’t know where to start. In this competitive landscape where multiple players offer similar value propositions to customers, there is a high possibility of brands losing differentiation and in turn losing their focus on creating customer value.
This remains especially true to the financial services sector. Recently, I came across an interesting KPMG report that stated how brands which entirely focus on building digital strategies in the new age tend to lose touch with their customers. The trick instead is in being able to create customer strategies best suited for the digital age. According to the report, businesses should be agile and work alongside customers to co-create offerings, beginning right from the earliest stages of proposition development. This strikes an important chord in every marketer’s rule book – we look at customer value propositions as value added services, but in changing times, customer values need to be embedded into core offerings.
Customer value is placing the customers’ needs at the center of selling process
Having spent 20 years in the financial services sector, I reckon it is important for new age marketers in the insurance industry to redesign ‘customer value’ and look for ways to enhance customer journey in order to align with a customer’s need and priority. For example, helping customers understand the real needs of their life which life insurance will fulfill as opposed to selling them a life insurance policy creates better stickiness and ensures higher renewals. It also ensures that customers take into consideration their own true value while purchasing insurance instead of simply focusing on the lowest premium.
Facilitating customers with easy and intuitive services throughout the journey
In the financial services space, while customers look for simplicity and agility when it comes to digital interactions, they also value customized and informative messages. The new generation of customers also prefer direct communication with brands through channels most convenient to empower customers with the freedom to interact with brands throughout their journey of product discovery with the help of easy and intuitive services will go a long way in creating tangible value. Same will hold true for service where customers may move from self-service through website, social media to chatbot to seeking service from customer service officers or agent advisors. Online and offline channels are becoming a norm; customers can start their purchase journey by interacting with financial advisors but shift to online to research more amidst the process.
Focus on an omnichannel strategy to be responsive to customers across touchpoints
A good approach is to integrate omnichannel conversations by leveraging the data received through various sources. Brands must be able to accommodate seamless conversations, enabling customers to continue where they left off on any channel of their desire, be it email, texts, agent advisors, chatbots, etc. This will ensure contribution towards a holistic customer experience.
Findings from a Global Consumer Insurance Survey by EY revealed that only 14% of consumers are very satisfied with the communication they receive from insurers. This communication gap needs to be filled with dynamic engagement which adds value to their customer journey, rather than focusing on strenuous mass messaging. For instance, at Max Life, our focus has shifted towards ‘talking with’ the customer, rather than ‘talking to’ the customer. This helps us in becoming our customers’ partner during their exploration journey. Our recent brand campaign #YouAreTheDifference aimed to tackle this by “celebrating” the role of breadwinners in the lives of their loved ones, nudging them to explore their ‘Real Value’ that in turn would help them to purchase the appropriate sum assured when buying life insurance.
Creating customer focused experiences by leveraging predictive marketing models to accentuate unique product offerings
Unique product offerings can be a strong differentiator, but they don’t answer the lingering question of ‘why’ a customer should purchase from a specific brand. To gain advantage over competitors, insurance marketers need to convince customers that their offerings will add value to their life journey. For example, someone starting a family will be more interested in reviewing financial offerings which are more aligned to his/her immediate life goal. Understanding their current life stage and then offering product solutions which would be most beneficial to them would help customers notice a brand in a sea of similar competitors as compared to mass messages.
In the digital age, brands can create unique customer personas to automate value propositions. This forms a part of predictive marketing models which addresses the evolving needs of the customers. Brands must deploy analytics driven insights to offer personalized solutions. At Max Life, we organize a ‘Super Customer Week’ every month, where we dedicate time to engage with customers looking for financial guidance through theme-based activities which help in educating customers more about life insurance. This helps in collecting insights, thus helping in providing a customized experience for customers.
Reshaping the future of customer value in the insurance space through digitally enabled distribution
Stepping into the new decade calls for extension beyond core product offerings. Customer loyalty is extremely hard to gain, but customizing value propositions, enhancing communication strategies and offering convenience helps in retaining the base. Being present and responsive to customers at places they want to see you, at times they want to meet you, with the limited attention they are willing to give, you will be extremely important in providing customers with true value. Additionally, treating customer feedback with utmost attention and regard with the help of digital tools will become an integral aspect for insurance companies when it comes to staying ahead of competing brands. All this and more can be made possible with the help of a robust digitally enabled distribution network. Digitally enabled distribution strategies can also help in optimizing revenue and reducing cost in different competitive situations, or to create entirely new business models that work towards creating value for customers.
Going forward, customers’ psychology will need to be addressed before dwelling into strategies. Today’s customers want to invest in services that go beyond product benefits to making a difference in society as well as their own lives. While customizable products, innovative technological platforms and digitally enabled distribution will continue to serve as a draw for the digital natives, ensuring that these work seamlessly in driving customer value will prove to be the real differentiator.
The author is managing director and chief executive officer, Max Life Insurance