The Age Of The Customer Drives North American Insurers To Take Five Customer Actions In 2014

Once upon a time, insurers sat in the power seat when it came to their interactions with policyholders.  The insurers understood the magic behind how insurance was sold, how premiums were calculated, and how claims were adjudicated. Those days are gone. In the Age Of The Customer, consumers are changing the rules and who wield the power. Thanks to all things digital, consumers have shifted from being passive sideliners and are willing — and able — to play more active and demanding roles across the insurance business. That means that digital must now be a core underpinning of an insurer’s customer experience philosophy, not an endpoint.

Just what are the factors propelling North American insurer agendas this year? For starters, it’s about:

  • Booming growth in revenues and profits. 2013 was a very good year for most North American insurers --the best since the financial crisis. Many are sitting on hefty policyholder surpluses and capital.
  • The fallout from HealthCare.gov. Balancing political winds with project management reality heaped more pressure on already stressed health plans, thanks to shifting deadlines, relaxed employer mandates, and zombie health plans. And as a result, trust across the broad healthcare ecosystem was undermined.
  • The risk of emerging insurers to meet the needs of digitally empowered consumers. Consumers are getting being trained to expect even more from their digital interactions. New insurers are coming to market offering new digital experiences that simplify, personalize, empower, and reassure customers.
  • Extreme weather. US and Canadian insurers have shifted to a posture of adaptation, and are looking to arm policyholders with new tools to better protect them from natural hazard risks.
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Future-Proof Your Customer Insights Practice with Adaptive Intelligence

We've been talking about Adaptive Intelligence (AI) for a while now. As a refresher, AI is is the real-time, multidirectional sharing of data to derive contextually appropriate, authoritative knowledge that helps maximize business value.  

Increasingly in inquiries, workshops, FLB sessions, and advisories, we hear from our customer insights (CI) clients that developing the capabilities required for adaptive intelligence would actually help them solve a lot of other problems, too. For example:

  • A systematic data innovation approach encourages knowledge sharing throughout the organization, reduces data acquisition redundancies, and brings energy and creativity to the CI practice.
  • A good handle on data origin kickstarts your marketing organization's big data process by providing a well-audited foundation to build upon.
  • Better data governance and data controls improve your privacy and security practices by ensuring cross-functional adoption of the same set of standards and processes.
  • Better data structure puts more data in the hands of analysts and decision-makers, in the moment and within the systems of need (eg, campaign management tools, content management systems, customer service portals, and more).
  • More data interoperability enables channel-agnostic customer recognition, and the ability to ingest novel forms of data -- like preference, wearables data, and many more -- that can vastly improve your ability to deliver great customer experiences.
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Ta Da! Announcing The Speakers At Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014 — June 24th and 25th in NYC

It’s that great time of year when I finally get to talk publicly about Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in New York at the end of June. If you’ve ever been to one of our events, you know that we always have a theme, and this year that theme is “Why Good Is Not Good Enough.”

We picked our theme because of the good news/bad news story told by our Customer Experience Index (CXi) results this year. First, here’s the good news: The number of brands in the “very poor” category of the CXi is down to one out of 175 brands we studied. What’s more, only a handful of brands — 10% — are in the “poor” category. Together, those findings show that as customer experience improvement efforts got traction over the past year, the number of truly awful experiences dropped like a rock.

Now for the bad news: Just 11% of brands in the CXi made it into the “excellent” category.

Taken together, those two pieces of news mean that most brands are bunched up in the middle of the curve — not awful in the eyes of their customers but not differentiated either. I think of this situation as “okay is the new poor” or, in my darker moments, “the year of ‘meh.’” Regardless, it adds up to the same thing: A merely good customer experience is no longer good enough if you want incremental sales, positive word of mouth, and better customer retention.

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