Picture this scenario: A MetLife home and auto policyholder visits Amazon’s site over a two-month period to purchase products for a newborn on the way including food and clothing, a baby crib, stroller and wireless monitor.
Before an agent from Metlife learns of this coming “life event,” an Amazon call center agent, shopping cart transitions in hand, offers the customer a life insurance policy through a partnering carrier, taking new business that, in years past, would likely have gone to MetLife.
Sound far-fetched? Think again.
According to Glenn Wintrich, a global director and principal consultant of Innovation Services at Dell, Amazon has applied to sell insurance (both life and P&C) in 37 states. It’s only a matter of time, he warns, before the tech titan clears some hurdles (regulatory, among others) and jumps into the arena, presenting a potentially formidable threat to the industry’s long-established incumbents.
To minimize turnover and maximize customer acquisition and loyalty, he added, the next generation of business solutions must be designed for socially connected, mobile consumers. This is a big and growing audience.
Market research cited by Wintrich pegs mobile phone users in 2017 at $5.3 billion or about 70 percent of the world’s estimated 7.5 billion people. More than 4 in 10 people globally (2.3 billion) will using social media next year. By 2020, this huge population will be consuming 35 zettabytes (ZB) of data, up from 7.5 ZB in 2015.
How to best serve these socially connected and mobile users? Enter the “real-time 360-degree view of the customer.” A comprehensive understanding of individuals’ wants and preferences, said Wintrich, requires software and systems that can gather and interpret both “data you own” (behavioral information collected from past transactions); and “data you don’t own” (direct information collected from real-time, direct engagement with the customer; and derived information from real-time, direct engagement with the customer).
The data collection encompasses a wide range of sources. Among them: business systems data, 3rd party information, engagement through mobile and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. It extends also to psychographic/social data, physiological information (such as from wearables), life events, affinity relationships and networks.
To illustrate the 360-degree approach, Wintrich noted that social media monitoring tools can be used to track customer complaints about a vendor on Twitter or Facebook. The provider can then “nip the problem in the bud” by proactively contacting the disgruntled individual to address the issue before the problem escalates and does real damage.
But there’s still time for these players to fight back against “disruptive innovation” from the likes of Amazon. To that end, said Wintrich, a workshop presenter at the 2016 BenefitsPRO Broker Expo held in Fort Lauderdale, insurers must do some innovating of their own. That means getting a handle on the growing mountain of data about customers and prospects that’s ready to be tapped.
“Industry Innovation needs to be systemic,” said Wintrich. “That demands the right technology tools to gather, interpret and manage data. It also requires foresight: an ability to look at industry trends, determine what’s real, probable and possible, and stay ahead of the competition.”