Today, your business is only as good as your customers’ last great experience with you. Business competition has grown from direct competitors to any brand your customer interacts with - regardless of industry or vertical. As soon as your customer has had a wonderful experience at a department store, a restaurant, a bank, or even a grocery store, they will begin to have heightened expectations for all places they choose to spend their time and money. So if you’re an insurer who is not focused on delighting, connecting with, and having more meaningful interactions with consumers, you risk not only lost revenue, but also lost customers.
During a recent episode of “UNBIND with Bindable,” chief growth officer Jocelyn Getson spoke with Steve Dennis, president and founder of SageBerry Consulting, about his experience working with brands to inspire, design, and catalyze growth and innovation within their organizations. A top 5 retail influencer, Forbes Senior Contributor, and host of his own podcast, Dennis shared his expertise in the retail space and the lessons he has learned along the way while consulting Fortune 500 companies and writing his best-selling book, Remarkable Retail: How to Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Disruption. Relating his experiences and those lessons back to insurance, Dennis was able to advise how insurers might break from the cycle of incremental change to create value for customers by internalizing customer preferences, trends in other industries, and so much more.
So in Dennis’ eyes, what makes a brand remarkable?
“Remarkable means something very distinctive or unique,” said Dennis. “Remarkable is also — borrowing from Seth Goden’s Purple Cow — going from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance. In that sort of world, it is more and more difficult to get the attention of consumers.” Dennis urges insurers to become “so relevant, so memorable, and so engaging” that customers and prospects feel compelled to share the story.
Typically in insurance, we look to the bigger players as the trend setters and follow suit. Dennis’ own book cautions not to rely on this strategy since within every industry, not just insurance, the “the future will not be evenly distributed.”
“There’s a pretty good chance that what is going to be meaningful to your brand, meaningful to your organization, meaningful to your customer is probably already happening somewhere in the world,” said Dennis. “Having that awareness, doing the work, really understanding what is going on with consumer behavior” is key for insurers to bypass the stagnancy of the industry and become cutting-edge.
With rapid technological advancements in other service areas, many insurers are charged with a complete overhaul of their processes and systems in order to move towards seamless, fully digitized experiences to keep up with the pace of change. For insurers who fear the risks of innovation, Dennis recommends starting with culture.
“There are organizations which are wired to say ‘yes’ and organizations which are wired to say ‘no’; those that are constantly promoting innovation and those that are constantly defending the status quo.” said Dennis. “Are you sitting still or are you trying a lot of stuff?”
For startups, the theory of failing fast and pivoting quickly is typical, but for more traditional organizations, like insurers, the theory challenges comfortable, established processes.
“Many brands won’t survive if they continue to rely on incremental change,” said Dennis. “They just continue to fall behind. …Other industries have confronted disruption before insurance has, retail certainly has. It’s important to be able to look outside your own industry and learn from what other companies are doing.”
According to Dennis, the insurance companies that want to be truly remarkable will take the time to understand where value is created as a natural collapse of the middle occurs. Retail, for example, has moved to a place where price is no longer the primary consideration; loyalty is instead driven by value, convenience, and choice.
“In retail, the bankruptcies are concentrated in those that ‘didn’t pick a lane,’” said Dennis. “How you are connecting with a consumer is important. Technology has evolved to the point where you can reconfigure offerings in a way that was very hard to do in the past.”
InsurTech companies are using data to inform product development for their partners and customize their offerings based on consumer behavior. This personalization, Dennis suggests, is a viable way into the heart of consumers. He said insurers should “use data to create more emotional intimacy.” Purchasing insurance can be a stressful process for consumers, but if marketed in a way that is clear, speaks to their needs, and makes them feel as though your company truly knows them, they’re more likely to want to buy from you. Data-driven product development and messaging is what will resonate with consumers and build trust.
Additionally, Dennis suggests, “to get the customer’s attention in the first place is incredibly hard, so if you can show up as an add-on sale where the traffic is already being aggregated or going, that can be very beneficial as a supplier.”
For insurance, this opens the door for more partner relationships with companies who typically don’t sell insurance. Customers feel more assured when given the option to purchase insurance from a brand they already trust or at a moment that makes sense for them. From what Dennis has seen in retail thus far, it seems like embedded insurance has a promising future in helping to create an all-encompassing shopping experience for consumers, but of course, we already knew that!