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How the insurance industry is opening digital channels

By Greg Griffiths | Posted on January 29, 2018


Digital transformation presents insurance companies with many opportunities to improve performance, but none are as profound as the ability to enhance the customer experience. Despite its best efforts, the insurance industry has not historically excelled in this area. With the multitude of digital touchpoints available today, insurance companies can make plenty of changes to drive customer engagement and create a truly satisfying user experience.

Register for our Reinvent Yourself as a Digital Insurer webinar featuring Forrester Analyst Ellen Carney.

Where insurance customer satisfaction stands today

The insurance industry at large has been slow to embrace the digital revolution and take advantage of the inherent advantages that new touchpoints offer. That hesitance has been reflected in relatively moribund customer satisfaction metrics. For example, a 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index study revealed that while health insurers had improved in a number of categories, claim submission processes continued to be a pain point for customers.

Other corners of the insurance industry have struggled with providing an exemplary customer experience as well. Property and casualty insurance companies reported a 5 percent drop in claims processing times. Meanwhile, life insurance customers were documented as wanting more policy options from their providers.

Navigating the line between customer satisfaction and profitability can be tricky, but with so many new avenues for engagement open to insurance companies, there's no reason for user experience metrics to languish.

Where to begin enhancing insurance customer experience

Thanks to sweeping digitization trends, insurance companies have more opportunities for customer engagement than ever before. Of course, that also means they have much more ground to cover to create the best experience possible. Some companies, such as MetLife, have even branched out into the virtual reality space. CX stakeholders may feel underwhelmed by the sheer number of touchpoints to consider and optimize.

The two best starting points for insurers are their main websites and mobile applications, as these channels will account for more customer interactions than any others. Take a hard look at your current company website: Can visitors quickly and easily find the information they need? Do they have different options available to connect with representatives and answer any questions they might have? Chat windows, troubleshooting portals and online customer service agents are now considered status quo, to go along with traditional support channels like phone and email.

Mobile platforms need to be similarly optimized for stronger user engagement. Apps should be fast, responsive and feature numerous service management tools to empower insurance customers.

Using those two platforms as the foundation, insurance companies can begin linking their various digital and traditional platforms into a cohesive, omni-channel customer environment. As Ernst & Young noted, omni-channel acumen is nearly a prerequisite for success in any industry today, as customers seamlessly move from one touchpoint to another. Every component must work together as single brand experience, while also tailoring interactions to fit the right customer at the right channel.

Recognizing insurance customers across apps, sites and devices

Ernst & Young conceded that insurance companies will have to overcome some pretty significant obstacles to achieve this kind of singular customer environment:

"It is difficult to overstate how challenging it is to create the capabilities (both technological and organizational) to recognize customers and what they are seeking to do, without forcing them to re-enter their passwords or repeat their questions."

Such a scenario would work against customer experience initiatives, frustrating users who are asked to continually verify their account credentials when they move from one channel or touchpoint to another.

Identity is the underlying issue here, with a single person representing potentially dozens of digital identities across various platforms. Twitter handles, mobile apps and online accounts can all reflect distinct "identities" connected to one individual. Leaders in the insurance industry are turning to customer identity and access management (CIAM) solutions to help eliminate any confusion in this regard and ensure that their companies always know precisely who they are interacting with at any touchpoint.

Driving stronger engagement with personalized CX

Knowing who your customers are is only half the battle. To truly provide the best insurance customer experience, businesses must gain deeper insight into individual personas and their preferences, and use that information to create unique, targeted interactions. Big data analytics can be a powerful tool for engagement, bringing emerging trends to light and helping shape a clearer picture of your customers and their priorities.

For instance, data analytics solutions may be able to identify gaps in an insurance provider's service portfolio, especially in regard to specific demographics. Not only would such a scenario create new upsell opportunities, but it would also deepen the customer experience by providing users with relevant offerings that cannot be found with other companies.

Digital evolution is inevitable

The insurance industry has been more insulated from the ripple effect of digitization than some other fields, but change is coming. Writing for Insurance Thought Leadership, Aon CEO Paul Mang argued that insurance companies need to adapt to current disruptive forces in order to stay ahead of the competition and maintain steady profitability.

Although such proclamations can seem unduly alarmist, the reality is that the world is quickly changing, and every industry is learning on the fly how to reshape their offerings and engagement strategies in the connected universe. Those who succeed will find new opportunities to improve customer relationships and create fresh revenue streams. The future is very bright for companies that answer the digital call.

To speed your digital transformation, start by learning more about identity management solutions for insurance


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About the author

Greg Griffiths

Greg Griffiths

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Greg Griffiths brings more than 15 years' experience marketing SaaS solutions in the enterprise IT, publishing and education arenas to Janrain as our Senior Product Marketing Manager. Greg drives much of Janrain's content and works across groups to ensure cohesive and articulate presentation of how our products and services align with the needs of our clients and the larger market. An analytics geek, Greg also steers much of Janrain's internal SEO and conversion initiatives, as well as new product launches. 

When Greg is away from our Portland office, he's likely enjoying time with his kids, near a trout stream, in a hammock, with a Faulkner novel close by ... probably all four at the same time.

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