Client Stories

Do You Understand Your Customer’s Journey?

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Triumphant customer

Do you know what your insurance customers need today? I mean, right now? In this moment?
And, if you are among the fortunate insurers who actually know what a specific policyholder or potential customer needs right this minute, can you create an experience that has your customer feeling like it’s her lucky day? Is your insurance company up to engineering this kind of serendipity?
Because that’s what it takes to beat the competition today – policyholders are demanding that their insurers have an understanding of their unique customer journeys and proactively offer solutions to help them cope with it. Or, they’ll find someone else who does. In fact, one third of insurance policyholders have switched insurers in the past two years!
Let’s take me as an example. IBM’s own psychographic insurance research classifies me as an “informed optimizer”. This means that I aim to get the right insurance from the right insurer at the right time. While I’ll consider the convenience of a one-stop shop, I lean toward using a different insurer to optimize each of my insurance needs.
To that end, I recently re-evaluated all of my insurance coverage. The result? My homeowner’s insurance is now with a different provider than my car insurance, resulting in better coverage for approximately the same price! I have three different insurance providers covering my rental properties in different locations and none of these providers are the same as my auto or home insurer.
As an informed optimizer, I have a high technology affinity. I like doing research on the Internet. In fact, I’m highly informed about insurance offerings due to my Internet research. I have a positive view of the insurance industry and I like trying new insurance products and services. Above all, I seek an optimal value/price ratio.
Just this month, I decided that I needed to add umbrella coverage to my insurance portfolio. What would have been the best way for an insurer to get my attention? Since I have a high comfort level with technology, insurers should reach out to me via personalized targeted advertising when I’m on the Internet. I find this convenient. I don’t find it creepy if insurers (or other service providers, for that matter!) know me well enough to offer me products that I need. In fact, if the product is on target, I given them credit for being clever. After all, they are helping me achieve my goals with less effort on my part. I appreciate that!
Just think about this – I’m online when I notice an ad on Yahoo Finance that talks about umbrella coverage. Or, I receive an email from my landlord insurance provider alerting me to the fact that my deductibles and other coverage-specifics aren’t consistent across the rental properties they ensure and that some of them won’t meet the minimums required by umbrella policies. In my view, these things should happen without my having to ask!
My insurance providers should proactively try to educate me on the conditions under which an umbrella policy or other coverage might make sense. And, they should do it in a way I want to be approached. In my case, don’t waste my time with phone calls and pleasantries. Let’s cut to the chase. Do you have a product that helps me solve a problem I have or not? Unfortunately, I have yet to experience an insurance company that anticipates these needs. But, here’s hoping that one will one day!
Just like in my situation, insurers must engage customers in serendipitous encounters – or run an increasing risk of losing business. Serendipitous encounters leave a lasting impression that deepen and improve a customer relationship. Serendipitous encounters happen when a customer needs information, advice or service at any point in the insurance relationship and the insurer reaches out, anticipating the customer’s need – before the customer reaches out to a competitor.
The most successful insurers execute digital marketing strategies that make serendipitous encounters happen at each and every point in a customer’s journey. Insurers that are serious about engaging in their customers’ journeys are foregoing conventional channel development and instead focusing on delivering serendipitous encounters throughout a customer’s journey.
When can serendipitous encounters occur? Examples of opportunities to engineer serendipitous moments occur at the following points in a customer’s journey (among others!):

  • Send offers when customers are ready to buy
  • Provide relevant content that improves a purchase decision
  • Serve and sell to customers in their preferred channels at their preferred times
  • Give customers a way to share ideas and opinions with each other and with their insurer
  • Identify, develop, and reward brand advocates
  • Intervene when customers are struggling
  • Rescue at-risk customers before they churn

So, what steps can an insurer take to ensure they understand and interact with their customers appropriately throughout their customers’ journeys?


There is no doubt that the age of the empowered consumer is changing the insurance business. For more food for thought, insurers can check out IBM Insurance, IBM Commerce and “Winning Strategies for Insurers: How Industry Leaders are Excelling Outside the Comfort Zone”.

Global Cloud Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value

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