November 5th marked the 14th birthday of Consumer Intelligence. During this time we have seen the death of yellow pages as the primary directory for insurance, and the emergence of first Google, then price comparison websites.
There are consistent threads that run through this millennium so far. These aren’t just moments in time, but the core elements of success that insurers have learned — often the hard way. And they hold true for the future as well as the past.
Let’s be clear, though: for insurance, the next 14 years are uncertain. Whether it is autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, biotechnology or artificial intelligence, markets will undergo fundamental, even disruptive change.
“This isn’t a marketing trick. Building a trusted brand starts in the boardroom. It lives and breathes across the company, from top to tail.”
Some things, however, will remain the same. Follow these key concepts and your business will weather any storm.
1. Build a brand that consumers trust
This isn’t a marketing trick. Building a trusted brand starts in the boardroom. It lives and breathes across the company, from top to tail. Gaining trust with consumers is down to four things:
This is what you say, and what you communicate inside and outside your organisation. Be an expert in your field. If you’re not, become one.
This is about what you do, how you deliver on your promises, and accept responsibility if you can’t. Reliability needs to be explicit across every touchpoint with your brand.
It may seem an odd word to use in the context of insurance, but this is really about whether you truly understand the needs of the consumer, and see the world through their eyes. All of these are diminished by the fourth element, self-orientation. The more the customer believes you only care about yourself, the less they will trust you. You don’t need to just demonstrate you are capable of putting their needs first. You have to want to.
2. Get fanatical about numbers
For a long time, insurers mistook this for “get fanatical about actuarial science”. It’s much bigger than that; understanding how to apply data to commercial decisions is at the root of this fanaticism. Data without meaning, relevance, usefulness, timeliness or accuracy is just, well, data. Add those five filters and BOOM — you have actionable information. Learn how to use that information to make decisions, and you will have strategic commercial advantage.
“You build a process that delivers value for customers and PRESTO, you deliver better value for you, too.”
3. Deliver agile service excellence
This is about getting all your systems and processes to line up, around the customer, and learning how to move quickly to evolve them. Many companies have adopted systems thinking since William Edward Denny first coined the term. But some have just seen this as another way to badge “transformation” or cutting costs. And lots of people talk about Agile processes when they really mean just a slightly faster version of Waterfall delivery.
Remember the self-orientation flaw about not being trusted? The same is true with systems thinking. You build a process that delivers value for customers and PRESTO, you deliver better value for you, too. Ignore the customer step and all you have is a glorified cost cutting exercise.
So that’s it. Pretty simple stuff. If you follow this simple three-pronged approach, then 14 years from now we will meet and toast your success.
One small point, though. Simple is not easy. Doing this is tough, tough, tough. But do it right, and it will prove both profitable and gratifying.
See you in 2031!