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Trust in the Evolution of the Customer's Journey

This is part 1 of a 2-part series "Trust: The Key Ingredient for a Successful Insurance Customer Journey."

Today, everyone in the business world is talking about the customer journey and experiences starting from E-commerce, banking, and many other industries. So, what is customer experience? What is new about it?

Customer Experience (CX) is the interaction between the purchaser or users of any product with the seller (which can be any organization or their representative). It encompasses everything from purchase interactions, post-purchase customer service, or even the quality of the product itself. Based on these interactions, users created an image of the product/seller in their minds. This image was termed as the ‘brand image’ in marketing jargon. Marketers tried to build brand image and top-of-mind recall showcasing the offering and benefits of a given product. Reinforcing the brand image or persona in the minds of consumers was the driving force behind all communications and offerings. It created differentiation between two different product offerings by the same company or competitors.

The 1990s and early 2000s were all about creating the brand image through advertising and marketing campaigns. There were few recorded conversations with customers, let alone detailed analysis. Focused group discussion and verbal feedback were the art of the day.

In the 2020s and post-CoVID era, all interactive platforms and actors in the conversations change. Platforms and actors evolve with the digital age. New age tools like call centers (recorded lines), SMS, WhatsApp, etc., to name a few, are being used. Organizations and marketers are using the term “Customer Journey.So what is a customer journey?

The dictionary defines the word ‘journey’ as the movement of people from one geographical location to another. The customer journey is a starting point when a prospect thinks about purchasing a product (offering), evaluates various competing offerings, makes a final purchase, and receives a post-sale service of that product. A customer's journey concludes with the end of the product lifecycle (the product is discarded) or with alternatives available in the market or with customer needs/priorities changing or evolving, which cannot be met by the current product owned by the customer. A customer's existing journey is enhanced when they buy a new product.

So, what is so peculiar and important about the Customer Journey in Insurance? Is it different or the same as any other industry? To find out, we should examine the insurance product itself.

It Comes Down to Trust and Fulfilling Promises

Insurance products are intangible products; a contract between two parties where the first party (customer) pays the price (called the premium). Meanwhile, the other party (the insurer or insurance carrier) is required to fulfill its obligations, i.e., support the first party or their families financially or make up for losses incurred. The standard insurance contract is filled with legal jargon and inclusions and exclusions, which are beyond the comprehension of the typical consumer.

This transaction is primarily influenced by the level of trust or confidence a customer has in the seller. The buyer expects the seller will stand by him in the hour of need. The seller is expected to honor the commitment and trust shown by the buyer. In essence, the customer is not buying a contract but rather buying and putting a price tag on the trustworthiness of the seller and its distribution partners.

Consumers buy insurance plans and then basically forget about them until disaster strikes. It’s at this time that the consumer needs the insurer to stand by their promise, and deliver in their time of need. If the insurer is slow to react or makes it difficult for the consumer to collect on their insurance claim, then the buyer’s journey is a negative one, and their trust in the insurance company is broken. If the insurer is quick to react to the consumer’s requests, then the buyer’s journey is a positive one, and their trust is reinforced.

The same sentiment was echoed when Salesforce concluded in their study State of the Connected Customer:

“The criticality of building trust with customers isn’t new, but its importance is magnified in the midst of a series of cascading crises. Today, customers aren’t just putting more emphasis on the importance of trust in their relationships with brands but also setting a higher bar for earning that trust “.

(State of the Connected Customer - Salesforce.com)

Conclusion

Trust is a key element in the consumer-insurer relationship. If it’s broken in any way, the consumer will sever their ties with the insurance company, and move on to another. Trust is earned when the insurer delivers on all the promises made when the insurance policy was purchased. If the trust is broken, the consumer will not hesitate to move on to a new insurance carrier. This is why it’s so important for insurance carriers to live up to their promises and make the consumer’s buyer journey a successful one.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part in this series: "Building Trust: Insurer's Way in the Digital Era."

Interested in understanding the 'how' and 'why' of your Customer's journey? CRUX will share with you not just where your customers have been, but also how they have completed their journey and what's next for them. Click the link below to schedule a demo.

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Arun Agarwal
Arun Agarwal
Arun is a senior executive with over 24 years of experience in the BFSI sector. He has worked with leading insurers like Aviva and Pramerica Life and has led teams towards the achievement of the organization's long & short terms business goals. As an insurance domain expert, Arun has made significant contributions by driving excellence across operations, sales management and compensation policies and execution, financial planning & business strategy, MIS and regulatory reporting functions.

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