Purchasing insurance is an on/offline process

Go and search the Trust Pilot reviews for any large distributor of health and life insurance, and you’ll find inconsistent and contradictory feedback. You’ll hear from customers who feel they’ve been advised well, through to consumers who protest that they were tricked into leaving their details, swearing never to try again. 

The point, if not glaringly obvious, is that we all research and buy products in our own preferred, unique way. We all have similar environmental triggers that lead us to seek out insurance, but we all want to feel like we are engaging with the buying process, on our own terms. 

We believe that what consumers want is a flexible on/offline omnichannel customer journey and nowhere is this better demonstrated than a whitepaper by The Boston Consulting Group, Income Made Yours and ZA Tech from Singapore. The paper follows a technology pilot and records how omnichannel marketing increases sales, positive consumer interactions and reduces marketing spend. It should be essential reading for every CMO in the UK insurance industry. 

If we know that insurance consumers prefer digital first processes, isn't it time we stop forcing customers down a telephone only sales route? 

The power of informed data collection 

It’s time to provide consumers searching for insurance online, a customer experience that enriches their search rather than forcing them through a repetitive, inflexible lead generation funnel. 

This is not about social media gimmicks or pretend AI chatbots that spit out irrelevant questions, but rather putting the power of data collection into a consumer's own hands. If you know you want protection insurance but know you can’t chat during a busy working day, why can’t you get ahead of a medical questionnaire and start answering questions that will allow an insurance adviser to tailor a product to your needs. 

The barriers to progress are technology; the health and life industry if full legacy CRM systems capable of no more than moving customer data in exact formats and cannot cope with the demands of multi-channel inputs and real time requests for information. Whilst digital first home insurance businesses like Lemonade are able to brilliantly demonstrate what real time pricing looks like, the protection industry is yet to catch up. 

The practical steps to an end to end, customer insurance journey: 

1.Help out your CRM with marketing middleware 

If you’re trying to build an interactive and dynamic customer journey, negotiating with your years old, legacy CRM and the respective technology queue, is going to be painful. You don’t need to reinvent your backend customer data processes to change how you speak to prospective customers. Work with marketing infrastructure platforms that allow you to combine new marketing APIs and data inputs into existing integrations. 

2. Build a test and learn culture in your board room 

There’s no such thing as a failed advertising campaign. If you’ve learnt something today, you’re one step closer to getting an edge on your competitors, tomorrow. However, under increasing pressure to show constant return on investment on marketing spend, marketing managers fear changing anything in the lead generation process. Marketing teams have got to be empowered by an organisation’s senior leaders to take a chance and try something different. 

3. Use appointment setting, quick call back and WhatsApp chat integrations 

Throw out lead generation forms that are only capable of collecting the same information and integrate multi-channel data processing that allows you to vary your consumer capture tools at different times of the day and week. Consumers that apply online for insurance products at midnight on a Sunday are fundamentally different to consumers responding to daytime TV. If your sales process and follow-up treat them the same, is it really the fault of the advert when they don’t buy? 

End to end Life and Health insurance 

There have been various attempts in recent years to make the life and health insurance customer journey a completely online purchase. In my view, it’s been the wrong technical ambition and served only to highlight the structural inefficiency of the current protection insurance process. 

Consumers are perfectly capable of understanding that insurance is a complicated and variable product that requires information and time to buy. Explaining that ‘some’ of the journey will be offline is not an impediment if that communication is made easy. 

The digital insurance customer journey of the future starts with the very first click of an advert and will require a completely integrated, end-to-end process on every step thereafter.  
Alain Desmier is co-founder and Managing Director of Contact State 

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