Using Technology to Relate to Your Customers
by Jim OuimetMr. Ouimet is President, US Marketing and Sales for Afinium, with offices in New Hope, PA and Chiswick, London. (www.afinium.com). Afinium is a technology-based service company that specializes in knitting together complex and disparate data sets to create a single customer view. Connect with him by pbhone of e-mail: 215.862.3080 or [email protected].
As an agent or broker, your goal is to have excellent and sustainable relationships with your clients – offering quality and relevant products and providing excellent support both in front-end marketing and back-end administration. Your customers rely on you to provide expertise and service. That is to easily identify the products they need and make the purchase decision quickly while being assured of a fair price. Sounds simple enough. But it isn’t – at least not without the right technology behind the process.
Until now enrollment was a once a year activity, with little in the way of personal engagement, and little opportunity to cross sell or to develop the relationships needed to maximize customer lifetime value and ROI.
Today, enrollment can become a personalized interactive experience with a unique web enrollment and communications portal for each employee, which can be fully integrated with marketing efforts such as direct mail, telemarketing, social media and mobile. These platforms can learn customer preferences, identify sales opportunities, and deliver context specific video, content and planning tools to assist sales. Lost or stalled sales opportunities can be identified and responded to seamlessly. And it is all done 24/7 365 days a year, to allow you and your brokers/TPAs to maximize the life-time value of your clients and create channel partner loyalty.
Technology allows you to reach the end user directly – with a personalized employer/association web portal and unique user ids, with relevant offers, marketing graphics, videos and content that are truly personal. All with a branded website that offers ease of use and a high level of control over content. And delivering customer-centric, timely and relevant information not only educates your clients, but can also help them to self-enroll.
As marketing technology becomes more refined, there are more opportunities for a company to become truly customer centric. That is, a company can effectively manage relationships with customers and engage them in a one- to- one dialogue – responding in real time to individual needs.
To be truly customer-centric, carriers must:
- Manage information, profile and segment customers, and predict customer behavior.
- Develop and optimize strategies, manage customer engagement at the enterprise level, and take the most relevant marketing action in a timely manner.
- Maximize cross-business impact by measuring and reporting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that matter, optimize investment of sales and marketing resources, and continuously learn from every customer interaction.
- Transform volumes of customer data into insights that can be used to make smarter decisions and drive profitable growth.
The data is necessary but data overload is a risk. That’s why technology is so necessary in an insurance marketer’s effort to create, solidify and sustain customer relationships.
Research shows that the insurance industry has the highest response rate to marketing efforts across all industries. That’s the good news. But often, the user gets overwhelmed with product choices and abandons their cart – either online, on the phone or in the mail. A relevant offer accomplishes two main goals. One, it dramatically increases the likelihood that the consumer will purchase the product. Secondly, and perhaps on a less conscious level, the consumer will appreciate receiving relevant information as well as the reduced time and increased ease with which they can purchase.
Each individual has his or her own needs, specific resources and personal financial goals that they are looking to have met. It is up to the agent and broker to allow them to feel comfortable and secure in their decision.
The Customer Journey
Imagine that you’re at home and, after putting off this task for quite awhile, sit down to research and hopefully purchase, life insurance. You go to your company’s or your association’s branded website looking for options.
The videos you see are in your language and in a tone of voice with which you are comfortable (based on profile, age and ethnic background). The person on the screen is both familiar and professional, creating a sense of comfort and credibility.
Life insurance? Health insurance? Options that fit your needs are easy to find. Filling out the application is simple because much of the data is pre-populated which raises no privacy issues since the offer is presented by an affinity organization.
There can be really cool stuff, too. For example, using a tracking system, if an individual is shopping at Starbucks, the system can automatically offer a Starbucks coupon.
Each user experience can be tweaked – in real time — based on interactive responses. Thus, truly personalized url’s are created, and the new information is automatically included the next time the prospect or customer visits. Product offerings and profitable marketing campaigns can be created in hours, allowing smaller, more targeting “test and learn” marketing efforts.
In essence, the system can respond to each customer individually, creating an interactive personalized journey that emulates the service provided by your best sales advisor.
So how do you go about setting up a system that continuously learns and responds dynamically to customer and market opportunities? And more important, how do you provide one-to-one marketing and sales processes to every customer, across multiple channel partners, brands, products and states, each with their own legal and compliance issues?
Four things must be in place
- A sophisticated independent database that aggregates, collects and analyzes real-time customer behavior and data from all customer and market interactions.
- A marketing engine that uses algorithms and configurable rules to trigger fully automated sales and marketing communications, products, collateral and even processes.
- A content database where all marketing collateral, rich media, video, compliance, rules and processes are contained and updated.
- A business process integration engine that allows information to be passed between legacy systems and other software to support through processing, premium calculations, enrollment, underwriting, screen flow, data mapping, PDF (application), and policy issue.
The central ‘hub’ that integrates all of these components is an intelligent database, independently managed and hosted for the financial services provider, which integrates and enhances, rather than replaces, existing systems.
There is much more that a broker or carrier can do with today’s technology. Reporting can be tailored. Consumers can receive relevant offers, scheduled intelligently. On-going testing can be done automatically with revisions made in real-time based on results.
A centralized database ensures that the branding, content, rules, processes, products and prices for each state are always compliant and the customer experience is personal, regardless of the your matrix of websites, products, and customer groups.
Personalized and simplified customer experience with own branded (HTML) application forms with inbuilt XML data capture and though processing makes the sales process simple and customer friendly.
Built in e-signature processes also allows creation of own branded and pre-populated PDF applications where a hard copy is required/preferred. Technology tools allow the affinity group or employer to communicate and market to members/employees based on personal and community interests. Individualized marketing (with data capture) increases sales, provides measurability, and allows up selling and cross selling.
Advanced content management systems can accomplish these goals by evaluating real-time consumer behavior based on pre-set rules. Test and learn capabilities using artificial intelligence allows companies to measure the effectiveness of hundreds of different marketing messages and videos with web processes that automatically measure and select the ones that deliver the best results – for each individual. Even casual browsers can be informed, engaged and converted into long-term, sustainable customers.
And that’s the bottom line!