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FORECAST 2023: Consumer Engagement


Tammy M. Appel
Contributing Editor

January 2023

When MarketFacts asked executives how the insurance industry could better engage consumers to meet their expectations and deliver greater value, most emphasized the importance of providing a great customer experience (CX). They noted listening to what customers want and simplifying products and processes are critical to providing great CX.

“The best way to engage customers is to deliver upon our promises and actively listen to their needs and concerns,” says Michael Simonds, Chief Operating Officer, Unum Group. “Consumers are looking for ease of use in all of their products, including insurance, and we need to meet them where they are in the market.”

Executives stress the need for financial education and guidance for consumers. Many note improving consumer knowledge can help increase interest in financial solutions and build trust. “I think there is a critical need for financial education and literacy,” says Mike James, EVP, Head of Life & Wealth, NFP. “This is accentuated with the current market volatility and the pain it’s causing. People don’t know they’re making poor decisions because they don’t have good fundamentals around money and financial matters, which creates a ripple effect within families and communities. We all have a responsibility to help people make more informed decisions around the products and services they choose to help them achieve their goals.”

Joe Monk, SVP, Financial Services, State Farm, agrees: “The industry needs to keep driving and improving awareness and education around life insurance and annuity products to help people better understand their own wants/needs, our products, and how we may help them achieve their goals. After reaching consumers, the call to action should be in the channel of their choice, including a partnership with digital and in-person assistance as needed.” 

“Not enough people have insurance, but we can’t solve that through tech or artificial intelligence alone,” says Amy Friedrich, President, US Insurance Solutions, Principal Financial Group. “We need to give consumers the ability to do their own research and get educated — get access to good information so they feel confident when it comes to buying insurance and feeling financially secure.” 

Mark Holweger, President & CEO, Legal & General America, agrees education is important and adds it is important for companies to make sure they are reaching customers on the platforms where they like to engage. “Initiatives like Life Happens are great in providing stats and stories to our clients and partners,” he says. “In the end, though, we need to continue to get better at being where our clients are when they seek advice. That may mean engaging on platforms like TikTok, working with different influencers, and continuing to support partners with skills to make those important conversations easier.”

Todd Katz, EVP, Group Benefits, MetLife, concurs that improving customer engagement is essential: “The best way to deliver the most value to consumers is to identify ways to consistently engage with them throughout the year — beyond open enrollment. This engagement has to do with more than providing communications collateral for distribution. The narrative within these pieces and the relationship among providers, brokers, and employers should demonstrate how our services come to life. What are the use cases for our products? What can we foresee that our customers cannot? By helping consumers connect with our products, whether it is through case studies, research, and data, or interactive opportunities, we are living our mission of ‘always with you, building a more confident future.’ This mission fuels MetLife, and we continuously review technology trends and lean into evolving customer expectations to design and solve future needs.”

In addition to education, executives say simplifying processes is a must. “Clients expect an experience that meets their needs in an efficient and painless manner,” says Jasmine Jirele, Chief Executive Officer, Allianz Life of North America. “Many still hold the perception of the insurance industry as slow and inefficient and, thus, not worth the effort. We as an industry need to continue to educate clients on the importance of protection and show them that attaining the proper coverage is so simple now.” 

Executives also point to the need for greater personalization and ways to provide better support for customers in their lifetime. “The future of commerce overall is personalization,” says Brooks Tingle, President & CEO, John Hancock Insurance. “We need to ensure everything we do is targeted, because what I need as an individual is not what my neighbor needs and vice versa. Our goal is to provide best-in-class life insurance products that meet individual financial needs, paired with a Vitality experience that helps each customer achieve the longer, healthier, better life they want, the way they want to achieve it.”

“Inclusivity is a key priority for us,” says Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Asia & Africa. “We need to ensure that all sectors of the community have access to suitable products at an appropriate price point.”

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