I spend a lot of time flying in my job. I try to use the travelling time wisely and the chance to read is a great opportunity to learn and reflect.
Last week I read a great article on my flight home about the changing face of hotel freebies. It told how the world has moved on in the hospitality industry from giving you a cellophane-wrapped basket of fruit to a plethora of goodies from espresso machines, wine and preserves to soft toys. The story told of how an event in 2012 at a Florida Ritz-Carlton forever changed the hotel industry’s view of being kind on a level which influences the individual.
A small, distraught boy left Joshie, his toy giraffe, behind. Not only did the hotel return it with various branded goodies, they also took photographs of its week-long ‘vacation’ – by the pool, in the spa, generally living the high life. The story went viral and the hotel gained enormous goodwill. It went down in the company’s (and industry’s) folklore as an example of what can be done with a little creativity – and without a cost-benefit analysis in the background.
It set my mind thinking about how the insurance industry treats its clients. Things are easy with big premium clients but for those high-volume, low-value policyholders who make up so much of the global insurance market, making the experience memorable is harder. But the technology is there to help make these things happen. For example, one Pega insurance customer tailors their website to the individual – if you have cat insurance, when you login, you see pictures of cats, not dogs or hamsters. When they send you a newsletter, it is made up of 12 articles, specially prioritised for you, down selected from a library of more than 300 stories, all based on their knowledge of you as an individual customer. Sadly, they are very much in the minority.
Leveraging the massive potential of data produced by the “Internet of Things” (whether carrying, wearing or inserting) gives untold opportunities to interact with clients. By harnessing the power of Next-Best-Action technology, insurers can interact in real time with their clients regularly or when trigger events happen. Through showing little, creative contextual acts of kindness, they can build rapport, relationship and brand image which can counter the influence of price at renewal.
Another Pega customer, implementing a field service management system, turned everything electronic, including satellite navigation, phone, credit card payment, generating a $1.5m annual savings. They send an email with a picture of the technician, plus updates on arrival time. One technician knew a customer was deaf, so he harnessed video technology and a colleague to communicate in sign language.
Retention happens because people feel wanted and loved at an individual level. The insurance industry has the access to technology today that can segment the customer experience down to a segment of one and personalise both outbound and inbound interactions. However, we need to catch up with the hotel and other industries and not be left behind.
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