2016 was an interesting year for marketers across all industries. The online space saw a shift in how video-consumption is measured, especially after Facebook came clean on their viewership calculations. Marketing campaigns in general shifted to a 360 degree approach where offline activities pushed content-hungry consumers online to ensure prolonged engagement and interaction. I expect 2017 to continue this trend of cross-channel campaigns, although, with a newer set of challenges and opportunities. Insurance, particularly life insurance, is perceived as a complex category and presents itself with many challenges to marketers. These range from customers not understanding the need for protecting their future and that of their families to procrastinating on the purchase decision even after a product that suits their needs has been finalized.
To my mind there are two aspects insurance brands will move towards in the coming year. Given the undifferentiated yet complex and largely intangible products offering, brands will leverage the opportunity to build and enhance a unique customer experience. This is the first aspect. Customer experiences and expectations are fast evolving and the insurance sector will borrow from other sectors and new-age companies, in order to stay relevant. Brands will move towards building deeper relationships with their customers; designing the end-to-end customer experience journey around customer expectations that will help build an emotional connect and trust with the brand. This enhancement in experience at all customer touch points and transition is enabled by a brand’s ability to adapt quickly to best practices and to digitize their touch points.
The design of every insurer’s digitization journey should be not only to automate processes using technology & systems but to provide an integrated data ecosystem that can be leveraged for purposes of intelligently connecting with the customer at multiple levels and across channels. An important aspect of this design is the sales tool in use. Insurers need to focus on developing more visual and highly simplified sales tools that not only smoothen the buying experience but also increase the confidence index of the seller themselves, who are a critical touch point in this journey of a positive customer experience. Brands need to realize that services delivered with empathy, timeliness and ease will be the order of the day. These factors, if taken up as focus areas, will result in highly leveraged results. A small change in how companies deal with customer grievances, for example, will result in a chain reaction that may lead to higher scores in the traditional metrics of persistency and conservation. Very soon we may be seeing experience scores themselves being a key metric prioritized over the metrics currently in use. The big shift here is that Marketing as a function will go much beyond working on just top-of-the-funnel solutions; Marketing needs to become the champion of the customer and work with all departments to deliver on the customer’s expectation.
The second shift that I see will be brought about by a new paradigm being created by newer distribution platforms. In the New Year, we’re looking at platforms like POS, digital wallets, payment banks and of course, the over-arching demonetization drive. By design, the regulator has ensured that POS products will be simplistic and easy to understand. But, understanding and building the right leverage for the POS approach is a marketing effort. This calls for a deeper understanding of the consumer needs and segments to provide the right product proposition, communication & sales tools. This approach provides the opportunity of building mass sellers and mass market buyers, thus working towards increasing the category penetration. This will give the marketer an opportunity to engage with and serve a wider audience in a more segmented, relevant and focused manner with the support of data.
Newer distribution platforms bring with them a new audience set which in turn brings with it a newer paradigm. Since the newer audience segments will require education on the need for insurance, we are likely to see brands pick up the insurance awareness initiative in innovative and interactive ways. By using solutions built on digital platforms the insurers will have greater control on the content being pushed and this will again result in lesser misinformation reaching the customers. My hunch is that the path treaded will be emotional rather than transactional and one that addresses the new-ness/fears that come with different life stages.If the initiatives taken by a brand result in customers perceivingit as warm and accessible, resulting in purchase consideration, the brand will have achieved its objective.
(The author is Senior Vice President, Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com