I originally began to draft this byline in February, before COVID-19 had completely disrupted our lives and roiled the markets. As companies continue to do everything they can to ensure their customers are taken care of during this unprecedented pandemic, the call to action outlined below has become even more acute.

Amid a world driven by technology, the power of relationship knows no bounds—that holds true now more than ever. During a time of crisis, companies must further prioritize consumers’ needs, finding new ways to foster relationships that can help and support customers and their families. The insurance industry in particular has tremendous runway to create meaningful outcomes based on consumer need, as we work to reimagine the customer experience.

1. One Size Fits None
We keep hearing the phrase “hyper-relevant customer experience.” What does that even mean? This term describes an extremely customized approach that’s highly applicable to the end user—or, an experience designed to meet the needs of one individual, in a superior and memorable way. The ultimate goal is to deepen the relationship between the company and the customer.

Let’s consider some examples. Shopping for many Americans today now includes predictive, targeted, timely experiences. Everyone knows the Amazon example but think of other retailers like Zappos, Chewy and Warby Parker—organizations that have cracked the code for making it easy to do business. These companies take service and convenience to a new level, while raising the benchmark for achieving customer loyalty. Above all, these “one-stop-shop” interfaces have redefined what it means to create customers for life.

2. Just OK is Not OK
A great illustration of customer loyalty today is AT&T’s slogan: “Just OK is not OK.” That phrase provides a striking analogy for consumers’ expectations—“just OK” from a company is absolutely not OK, and mediocre satisfaction equates to a loss. In short, customers have become cutthroat. They expect easy, intuitive interactions that fit into their busy lives. Without an exceptional experience, many move on and never look back.

3. Proactivity Drives Leadership
Since customers’ expectations are becoming universal across business sectors, it’s fortunate our organizations are starting to pay attention. According to a recent study by LIMRA/NEOS, life insurance and annuity companies are increasingly focusing their efforts on customer needs. In fact, the top three objectives for customer experience initiatives at these organizations include improving service practices to meet customer needs, aligning company goals with customer needs and increasing employee awareness of customer needs (Source: “Next-Level Customer Experience; How Do Insurers Get There?” LIMRA and NEOS. 2019).

The same report justified the case for insurance companies to shift their approach—from reactive to proactive—in order to make an impact in reaching an optimized customer experience (Source: “Next-Level Customer Experience; How Do Insurers Get There?” LIMRA and NEOS. 2019). Tactics to support this include gathering more data and feedback throughout the customer journey, evaluating internal processes and exploring self-service capabilities. These efforts will drive a more transparent purchase cycle, inspiring confidence in buyer decisions.

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