Academy of BFSI, Insurance,

Relationship-based Insurance Sales Strategy

The insurance industry was built on the premise of relationship selling. But how do you pursue this strategy in today’s digital era when customers are taking to online platforms in droves and hardly ever come face to face with providers? One way is to put customer experience at the center of your business strategy to drive superior customer engagement and long-term growth. According to a PWC report – evolving considerations for the Indian Insurance Industry, insurers who are able to provide the right engagement solutions are capable of retaining their customers better.

Here is the reality. A study by Accenture found that 88% of insurance customers demand personalization from their insurance companies. Yet, 21% of insurance customers do not receive tailored customer experiences from their providers. This raises the question: are sales teams at insurance companies equipped with the right skills to ensure robust personal engagement? The answer to this question can mean the difference between success and failure as the lack of robust relationship selling and personal engagement strategies can risk customer retention and market share.

Here are the three ways to create a robust relationship selling strategy and generate exceptional customer experience for today’s digital customers:

Leverage analytics to drive personalization:

The wave of digital disruption sweeping across the insurance industry is changing the way people buy insurance and even what they buy. But the emergence of new data sources such as sensors, telematics and social media makes it easy for you to leverage analytics and drive relevant customer insights. 67% of Indian consumers are willing to have a sensor attached to their car or home, if it results in lower premiums.

Here’s an example of how this worked for a Life Insurance company. A life insurer looking to reduce the cost and hassle of blood tests, prior to enrolment, leveraged analytics to get around the problem. This required access to the right external health data, combined it with prospective customer applications, and built an algorithm to predict which prospects would not require a blood test. This allowed the company to reduce testing by 30%, leading to faster processing and highly satisfied customers.

Similarly, a team of analysts can help the insurance team with data, which would further help them to leverage information. This will help them ask the right questions to create a steady flow of prospects and stay focused on the client.

Result: positive outcomes such as solving customer problems in real-time, and also upselling and cross-selling products based on customer needs.

Build trust in customers through right behavioural and selling skills:

As consumer expectations and behaviours shift, building a long-lasting customer relationship not only means leveraging technology but also providing physical touch points through a robust employee network. An EY report – Insurer of the Future, highlights the importance of Indian insurers adopting a customer-centric approach – one that encompasses clear communication and relationships based on changing life events. This requires developing the right behavioural skills such as listening skills, the ability to handle objections with poise and confidence, and empathize with customer problems. This makes it critical that insurers not only engage its sales teams in focused product training, but also on other sales skills.

Use technology to enhance service:

According to the Insurance Journal, only 16% of the customers are satisfied with their insurance providers and willing to buy more products from them. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning based solutions are being increasingly used to deliver personalized solutions based on customer profiles. Chatbots, for instance, are quite prevalent today. Insurers are using them to engage with customers during the purchasing and claims processes, providing recommendations for relevant insurance offerings based on customer needs. HDFC Life, for instance, leverages the capability of AI-based email bot SPOK, to respond to user queries quickly and efficiently.

AI and machine learning technologies are a win–win for insurer–customer relationship as they help your data scientists understand customer requirements, which in turn enable your sales agents to offer personalized customer service. Training on available technologies and its right use for enhanced customer experience will help sales agents ‘right-sell’ to customers, which can potentially result in greater wallet share.

For insurers, success lies in the strength of their customer relationships. Building a relationship-based business comes from implementing well-defined best practices that add value to every customer conversation. This begins with transitioning your staff from being ‘product pitchers’ to ‘relationship builders’.

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