One cannot argue that it has been an unpredictable year for the South African economy. Despite the local insurance market being no stranger to a high volume of policy churn, company leaders have had to be resilient in finding growth opportunities. On the upside, there seems to be a renewed hope shown by the country’s middle-market companies, with almost one in three of them predicting growth above 10% (according to the EY Growth Barometer survey1).
The reality is that companies within the financial services industry find themselves operating in a highly complex environment. This is one where the customers’ needs are constantly evolving with technological developments, leaving the overall customer experience to be redefined. Intensifying these complexities are the demands of millennials who have shaped new buying patterns along with the channels they want brands to interact with them. 2
In the digital arena, Google has emphasized the insights they’ve gained on customer journeys. Previously, these journeys were thought to be linear, where they began with the awareness stage and then moved through the funnel to the consideration and purchase stages. This is simply not the case in today’s age where information is readily available in abundance. Google has found that no two journeys are exactly the same and that the majority of them don’t resemble a funnel at all. How does this affect insurance? Imagine for a moment that a client is looking for car insurance, her journey may start with trawling the web and narrowing down her options to a few that she feels best suit her needs. This is very normal behaviour up until the point where she restarts the research process in search of car insurers that offer telematics (or other benefits). This may take place numerous times and involves her watching customer reviews videos and reading various online articles for a couple of months before a decision is finally made. 3
With this in mind, there is also an ever-growing expectation from customers for brands to understand their unique needs and be one that they can depend on. For the insurance providers, it means providing an outstanding customer experience that keeps the client engaged. This can be a challenge as insurance providers are not in contact with clients as frequently they would like to be. The key is to deliver unforgettable service at key customer contact points throughout their journey e.g. policy application, claim submission and policy cancellation (retention efforts). 4
According to KPMG’s “Six Pillars” of customer experience, if these criteria are delivered against in the insurance value-chain, companies will increase the likelihood of experiencing heightened brand loyalty. 5
Focusing on the individual to create an emotional connection with the customer.
Example – clients expect companies to know who they are and what they want by gaining these insights from the data they collect.
The ability to create a trusting relationship through credibility.
Example – clients have become increasing conscious of brands that support communities and the environment.
Being aware of customer expectations and knowing how to exceed them.
Example – instant gratification is becoming the norm and this need can be satisfied by reward programmes.
Assuming responsibility for a problem and knowing how to manage it effectively.
Example – Clients have the tendency to share bad experiences on public platforms. It’s best to resolve them quickly and effectively.
- Time and effort:
The ability to simplify the customer experience as much as possible, minimizing the effort required by the customer.
Creating a significant relationship with customers based on the analysis of circumstances.
Example – engaging with clients when they make a claim to solidify their loyalty.
Interacting with clients across different social media channels
Instagram is the fastest growing social platform in Africa with over 95 million posts per day and approximately 1 billion users worldwide. 7South African users alone account 3.8 million and are expected to increase substantially in 2019. 8
Brands are harnessing a powerful new feature called “Stories” (adopted from Snapchat) to drive engagement and instantly interact with their audience. Stories enables users to post photos and videos between 15 to 60 seconds that vanish after 24 hours on your news feed, paving the way for ephemeral videos.
Earlier this year, Instagram launched Instagram TV (IGTV) which has been positioned to contend with YouTube head-on, allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length from the previous one-minute limit. 7
Since Microsoft’s acquisition of Linkedin in 2016, the platform has rapidly evolved into a powerful organisational talent sourcing platform. Despite having a lower usage and engagement rate in comparison to the other social media platforms, LinkedIn is set to unleash several features that will provide substantial growth opportunities in driving B2B strategies.
On the other hand, Twitter, having originated from an instant SMS communication tool has grown into a leading platform for news and current affairs. Business profile users are patiently waiting for the launch of a business dashboard in managing multiple accounts. Despite user numbers dropping in countries like the United States, South Africa has experienced a marginal increase in recent years with a total of 8 million active users.
The current trend and using Facebook’s “Recommendations” feature seems to be growing and users are less likely to search for recommendations on Gumtree and Trip Advisor as well as YellowPages.
Article by: Chelene Naidoo: IIG co-opted member (Marketing portfolio) & Riccardo Raciti: Ambassadorial member (Marketing portfolio)