Mention the acronym CRM and you’ll probably get varying responses from insurers. Some remember customer relationship management as a painful experience from a prior era that they would rather forget.

Certainly, some insurers found great value in CRM and have extended and relied on these solutions up to the current day. Others went through a big implementation and were able to gain some employee adoption, and they have reaped a few of the benefits.

And some companies suffered through expensive and time consuming implementations that ultimately achieved limited success. So, it may come as a surprise to many insurers that CRM is experiencing a resurgence in insurance.

A new research report released by SMA, CRM in Insurance: New Visibility and Role in the Digital Age, describes the renewed interest in this technology, which is translating into investments, enhancements, and new implementations.  

What has changed?

Why are the solutions from 10 to 15 years ago being revamped? And why have so many new CRM offerings been introduced to the market?

The simple answer is the customer experience. For each of the last two years, SMA research reveals that 85 percent of North American insurers have a strategic initiative to improve the customer experience; the most widespread initiative in the industry.

Prospects, policyholders, and producers are all customers in some sense for insurers, and their expectations and demands are clearly driving business and technology strategies. In fact, some insurers are implementing CRM solutions specifically for one constituency by developing agent/broker relationship management systems as part of their distribution channel management approach. 

So, CRM is back in the game, but in new and improved forms. A broader range of relationships are now being considered. New dimensions are being added to the relationships, and options like social networks, location, delivery preferences, and interaction or communication tracking are becoming increasingly common. Modern technologies such as cloud computing, mobile support, and analytics are important features of today’s CRM solutions.

CRM is more important than ever for insurers today. CRM capabilities are mandatory for gaining a deeper understanding of customers and arming employees with the contextual information required to enhance the individual interaction and the overall experience. This fact has not escaped insurance executives, which is why almost half of insurers have major initiatives related to CRM underway in 2016.

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