Advice & Best Practice

How insurers can hold onto new customers and keep them returning

With car sales in freefall, travel at a standstill, and increasing competition for household policies, General Insurance is a tough place to be in 2020. Aviva alone announced 1,800 job losses in June, with many more companies being forced into similar responses.

There’s also been a huge increase in pay-outs with up to $100bn in Covid-19 related losses alone. Lloyd’s of London have gone as far as to say 2020 will be the worst year ever for insurers.

However, the opportunities from digital have had an unexpected boost. A McKinsey research project identified a 30% increase in consumers accessing insurance digitally during the crisis. As customers become happier and more confident conducting their business online insurers can reap the benefits of digital channels.

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In the same McKinsey research, the most common complaint was that online insurance tools were hard to work with, highlighting that insurers are not staying ahead of customer expectations of the digital experiences.

With more new customers driven into digital channels, what do insurers need to focus on to deliver the experiences that will retain them for the future?

Important questions: asking them in the right way

The problem with rapid change is that the imperative to keep businesses running overrides the need to be customer centric. As we get used to the new ‘normal’, insurers must find ways to take insight from their customers to understand them and then rebuild their services accordingly.

There are two routes to gaining customer insight – asking questions and interpreting information. The best experienced designers make use of both.

The what’s, when’s, where’s and how’s of consumer behaviour are often driven out of data. But the why’s are usually guesswork. And there are huge knowledge gaps in terms of mindset, competitive pressures and alternative routes to purchase that only come from the why. 

This dual-approach insight model should also be used when considering the future of disaster and pandemic policies. For businesses and consumers alike: having a role in designing the future of insurance will help rebuild trust for those who discovered they were not insured against the pandemic. 

Optimising journey flows: use the what and the why

With insight from qualitative and quantitative sources available, making journeys simple and easy for users to navigate becomes an equally simple task. 

With digital sales being the norm in insurance, the tools and data exist to identify breaks and navigational issues. Even so, too many insurers still see their journeys as distinct and static. And these businesses often lack the adaptability needed to respond rapidly to changing consumer behaviours. 

Key areas of focus include; reducing clicks to quote, clear communication around renewals, improving policy comparison, clearly articulating the benefits of each policy. 

Petplan, a leading provider of premium pet insurance, use this approach to understand customer needs. Their journeys bring all the essential information a pet owner needs to the fore and they work to enhance experiences in a way that empowers customers to make informed choices for their pets.  This leads to both more trust, and improved sales and retention.

Designing for transparency: a reason to return

A big part of keeping customers returning is offering them clarity and transparency around their cover. Unfortunately many customers found out too late that Covid-19 was exempt from their policy, placing pressure onto travel providers to refund at their discretion. Many of these losses ended up with policy holders. 

This damages a brands’ perception as a whole. Insurers benefit from selling multiple General Insurance lines to individual customers. If as a result of COVID-19 insurers are now suffering from poor brand perception they will take a hit when it comes to renewal season. 

The best thing insurers can do to rebuild trust is to be clear and transparent about the details of cover and gather insight and design with that in mind. 

This makes designing for clarity one of the most impactful things general insurers can do if they want to win future custom. A quick way to prove out the benefits of this approach is by A/B testing content with the key Covid-related policy information front and centre vs those with it buried away. 

A good example of building trust within the motor insurance trade was firms offering cashback based on the premiums in line with a reduction of on the road risk. This kind of behaviour conveys trust and improves the potential for re-insurance. 

Designing like this extends beyond web-based experiences and into support channels. Insurers have been managing up to a 200% increase in query volume to call centres when compared to 2019. It’s  more important than ever that insurers recognise every experience a customer has is a chance to engender trust and confidence in their brand. 

Joining it up: committing to customer-centric insurance

The key to improving digital experience is being committed to improving customer experience holistically. Continual iteration will improve experience and can help keep customers aware and engaged, but without a vision for the bigger picture and a roadmap to deliver insurers will see diminishing returns over time. This is because inconsistency and confusion creep into the customer experience without a clear corporate direction. 

Perhaps take a leaf out of Lloyd’s of London’s book. In 2019 they laid out their plan to enhance customer experience across the board. By identifying and focusing on six key customer and policyholder needs including being customer obsessed and improving efficiency, the business was able to focus on making it easier, faster and more cost effective to do business with both consumers and other companies

Don’t panic – things will get better

2020 will not be insurers’ greatest year but with a more digitally familiar and risk adverse market to serve, insurers have a golden opportunity to improve and align insurance offerings across the board with a unified view of customer experience which is grounded in trust and transparency.


By Dicken Doe, experience design director at Foolproof, a Zensar company

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