By Linda Koco
CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. – LIMRA soon will debut a program that will run insurance-specific “customer experience measurements,” according to LIMRA executive Todd A. Silverhart.
The development is another signal that the trade group is pushing the digital frontier where distribution opportunities and strategies are concerns.
In recent years, LIMRA has brought data analytics to the forefront as a means of increasing carrier understanding of consumers in the insurance marketplace, for example. It also has provided extensive programing on the use of social media for consumer outreach in an increasingly connected world. Now LIMRA is adding customer experience metrics to its arsenal.
All are disciplines that relate to the “omni-channel” business model that LIMRA believes will become increasingly important to insurance companies. This model entails offering sales and service from multiple points of contact — online, call center, face-to-face, social, etc. — in a way that appears seamless and coordinated to the customer.
Data generated by LIMRA’s new customer experience program will show how life and annuity companies are faring on key customer experience markers. The metrics can identify trends ranging from cultivating awareness to the actual sales and service experience. Carriers can use the results for benchmarking.
Of importance to agents: The new program will assess buyers’ perspectives on their “experience” in interacting with a company’s producers as well as with the company itself. It will look at distributor perspectives too.
Silverhart provided InsuranceNewsNet with a preview of his presentation on the subject here today at the LIMRA 2015 Distribution Conference for Financial Professionals. Silverhart, LIMRA’s corporate vice president and director of insurance research, will co-present with LIMRA customer experience leader Phil Brown.
The new program
Other types of customer measurement approaches do exist, but they have inconsistences and they do not adjust for the “nuances” of the insurance industry, Silverhart said.
By comparison, LIMRA’s program is designed specifically for LIMRA member companies.
Initially, it will assess customer experience measurements at life insurance companies. Later, it will look at retirement and annuity companies, as well as health insurers. “We think components of the model will apply to property/casualty insurance as well,” Silverhart said.
The program will look at consumer interactions at different points along the customer experience continuum. Key areas include pre-sale/needs analysis, completion of the application, the sale and delivery of the policy, service, and claims.
It will incorporate common metrics of customer experience such as customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, customer effort and customer advocacy score (also called net promoter score).
“We’re looking at developing a composite measure” from the data, Silverhart said, explaining “this will be the basis for an industry benchmarking study we will publish.”
The program also will assign scores to such measures as: whether a company is easy to do business with, meets customer needs, provides peace of mind, meets expectations and adds value.
Why measure this?
Cutting-edge marketers say customer experience measurement can help firms compete more effectively in today’s marketplace, and thus grow sales. In other words, the more positive the customer experience, the more likely it is that customers will buy.
As a result, measuring this experience has become a hot-and-happening part of the customer-centricity movement. In general, customer-centric companies make customer needs and wants the focal point of product and service offerings.
The new measurements take the pulse of the customers. The scores provide insight into what’s happening at key consumer contact points, and spotlight areas where improvements might be needed.
This information can help carriers become more competitive and differentiate themselves, Silverhart said.
Development of this discipline has been fueled by maturation of technology. For example, today’s carriers have the ability to access large amounts of consumer data. “As a result, companies are now in a position to deliver on consumer centricity,” he said.
Just in time too. Thanks to technology, today’s consumers can pretty much shop where, when and how they want. That has changed their expectations about interacting with companies and the “experience” that companies create, he indicated.
The customer-centric business model is not new, Silverhart said, but insurance companies have been giving it more focus in recent years.</p>
For example, some carriers have established a senior-level position called “chief customer officer (CCO),” he said. The duties of a CCO are still evolving but, in general, the position entails responsibility for a firm’s relationship with its customers in a customer-centric environment.
Some very large insurance carriers have taken the next step and joined a trade group for this emerging business discipline, he added. Called the CCO Council, the organization serves as a peer-advisory network for CCOs from diverse industries. The purpose is to foster sharing of ideas and concerns, and to build best practices.
Customer experience measurement is yet another piece of this evolving business trend in insurance.
InsuranceNewsNet Editor-at-Large Linda Koco, MBA, specializes in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at [email protected].
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