Practice Management

So, Who Is Your Customer and How Is the Experience?

How a seamless digital strategy can deliver an optimum customer experience

by Deb Smallwood

Ms. Smallwood is CEO & President of Strategy Meets Action, a strategic advisory firm offering consulting, advisory services, and research to help insurers bridge today’s business strategies, plans, and technology investments to the new world of digital transformation, emerging technologies, and InsurTech. Reprinted with permission from her blog. Visit

Apr 24, 2019 — In today’s digital world, it has become a mandate to focus on the customer and their experience. No longer is it just about optimizing the business and processing the transaction; it is also the overall experience that matters for retention, renewal, and even loyalty. Creating a seamless digital experience that is tailored and personalized, along with knowing the customer, understanding their needs, and always having the voice of the customer, is essential.

When embracing the customer experience (CX) in insurance, the first thing an insurer must do is define who the customer is. Depending on a company’s channel – direct, captive, or independent agents – the definition becomes not only complex but political and even cultural and structural.

Historically, for many insurers whose channels have been independent agencies – the agent or broker has always been the customer. But, more and more insurers have embraced the concept and reality that the policyholder is also the customer. For these insurers, there is often a debate as to where the CX focus should be: on the policyholder or the agent? I believe insurers need to consider both as customers – different customers – but both customers. In most cases, agents own and manage the relationship with the policyholder, and the insurer provides services to the policyholder. Insurers need to fully embrace both agent and policyholder and the interconnectivity of the triad relationship, and how these inter-relationships and interconnections fuel and influence one another.

Ease Of Doing Business

As we look at the customer experience today, there is tremendous opportunity to transform not only the customer experience but your company as well...

Ease of doing business is the expectation and requirement for any insurance customer and their experience in today’s digital connected world. This phrase now has new meaning in insurance and has skyrocketed in importance – agents choose where to place the business based on ease of doing business (along with the relationship, product coverages, and pricing). There are a few key areas to focus on to improve the agent experience, like providing agents with the right technology solutions and tools to easily, quickly, and painlessly quote, bind, issue, endorse, and renew. Agents expect it to be fast and easy to understand each insurer’s product and risk appetite and to have clear visibility and transparency into the status of all interactions between the agency and insurer – as well as the policyholder and insurer.

While the agent may have a personal relationship with the insured, insurers do interact with policyholders: making payments, changing pay plans, asking questions around a final audit invoice, experiencing loss control visits, and, of course, the whole gamut of the claims experience. The key to providing a really great customer experience for the policyholder includes providing a personalized touchpoint in any channel – whether it is paper, digital, or face to face – and ensuring communications are easy, accurate, consistent, and straightforward. And last, but not least, minimizing or even eliminating the need to call, maximizing the experience when they do need to call to a one-call-resolution, and providing the option to go to the self-service portal are all goals of the transformed customer experience.

As we look at the customer experience today, there is tremendous opportunity to transform not only the customer experience but your company as well. As we work with insurers on their CX transformation journeys, the amount of low hanging fruit with low costs and high impact for improvement to both the customer experience and the optimization of operations are incredible. But first, you must be clear as to who your customer is. Then, declare that your company is on a CX transformation journey. Now, you are ready to move forward.