It’s a crucial time for the general insurance sector, with a shift in the industry landscape coming in the form of the FCA’s new price regulation policy. This is aimed at combating common pricing practices in the industry. Heavily discounted prices offered to new customers have long been seen as a ‘loyalty penalty’ by existing consumers. The practice of increasing prices at renewal, known as ‘price-walking’, has resulted in many savvy consumers shopping around to find a more advantageous deal, and avoiding an increase in their insurance costs. With some brands seizing the opportunity to evolve and move away from this pricing practice, will this give them the head start to regain the loyalty of their customers?
Customer loyalty has had a limited impact on the insurance renewal cycles of the past. We expect these policy changes to create a shift in consumer and insurer behavior. Customers will look beyond pricing and consider the value an insurer can provide. This gives an opportunity for leading insurance brands to embrace a culture of loyalty rewards, value added services and personalization during the inevitable fight to retain customers. This ocean of opportunity allows them to redefine what it is they stand for, and the value they can offer a consumer throughout their lifecycle. Everyone is in the same boat now, and the adaption to change that ensuing over the next few years will show exactly who is going to sink or swim.
As mentioned, there are many avenues and choices ahead for these insurers; however, here are a few initial steps they can take in order to benefit from improved customer loyalty:
1. Standardize your user experience
A key user experience (UX) principle is Jakob’s Law. Jakob’s Law states that users spend most of their time on other sites, which means they prefer your site to work in a similar way to the sites they already know. It also goes without saying that your site’s UX should also be consistent throughout your real estate. An example of an insurer that does this well is Churchill. Its font, iconography, spacing, color palettes and tone of voice are consistent as you move from the car insurance product page to start a quote – which can’t be said for all insurers’ sites.
Ensuring your UX is consistent is a crucial step toward fostering greater consumer trust, and legacy organizations can do this by conducting a dedicated cross business line review of their websites to ensure inconsistencies and problems are mapped. Then by focusing on the quick wins and high-volume pages first, they can work to iron out the creases in their UX.
Insurers can even go a step further and approach the project through a service design lens, which would not only deliver greater consistency in experience and brand building, but would also provide more efficient internal processes. Frog’s service design work with British Gas is a great example of how a large corporation can transform its digital customer experience through the adoption of an evidence-based design and governance framework that truly puts the customer first.
2. Speak like a human
It is difficult to strike the balance between using the language your audience uses while ensuring regulatory requirements are being met. There can be a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the creation of content in the financial services industry, due to approval processes in place. This can sometimes water down the original work. A way in which brands can maintain consistency throughout their content – while speeding up the approval process – is by producing a tone-of-voice policy that also incorporates key brand compliance guardrails.
The tone-of-voice policy should encourage content creators to understand how customers would expect to be spoken to in real life and avoid any technical jargon (a great example of which is Monzo’s). Compliance guardrails in the policy need only be a basic framework, which gives content creators more transparency on what is likely to be flagged. This also arms them with the confidence to challenge requested changes so they can uphold the tone of voice of the message shared with customers. For example, a compliance rule may be ‘if possible, any caveats attached to an offer need to be incorporated into the main body of the text rather than in a footnote’, but if a caveat is long and only relevant to a tiny proportion of customers, the content owner may decide to push back and request it is added as a footnote instead.
By empowering content owners in this way, a brand’s content should become more digestible and consistent across all channels and media. Customers know what to expect from a brand and this in turn will help to increase trust.
3. Reward in a purposeful way
Rewards are an effective way for insurers to do two things:
To encourage risk-mitigating behavior
To develop a deeper connection and sense of loyalty in their customers
Vitality Insurance is leading the way in this regard with its Healthy Living Discounts and Rewards and Good Driving Programme. It rewards customers for improving their health and their driving, by educating and providing them with a baseline and tips on how to improve on both. In doing so, Vitality is actively reducing the risk attached to each engaged customer’s insurance policy – all the while providing benefit and value to the customer.
Other insurers can and should be taking a leaf from this differentiated business model Vitality has built. It has in essence found the ‘sweet spot’ in the insurance data value exchange; by simultaneously giving the consumer an engaging reason and purpose to maintain a relationship with the brand and share data that will help Vitality personalize its experience and price. It’s not too late, however, for other insurers to follow suit and develop their own value proposition. Although the development of a rewards scheme is something that requires strategic planning and vision setting, there are small steps that insurers can begin to take. By engaging procurement and legal teams to establish grassroots partnerships with gyms, retailers or connected device providers, they can speed up delivery of a value proposition. Then when it’s a case of launching a ‘phase 1’ rewards scheme, the bulk of the content has already been delivered.
These are just some ways insurers can set the wheels of positive change in motion and adapt to the change this competitive landscape will bring over the next few years. Pricing models, driven by access to real-time risk data, have to evolve to reflect the individual risk of each customer, which presents another shift in the thinking for the successful insurers of the future. As time progresses it will be those insurers, who have combined legacy with a holistic and regenerated focus on customer experience, that will succeed in standing apart and growing their market share. Trust is not an abstract concept – customers do and will trust in brands that show transparency, consistency and acknowledgement of personal welfare. Sure, transformation may be necessary in the process, but it’s important to never forget to bag the quick wins on your journey to reach ultimate consumer trust.
Marnie Blair, marketing strategy consultant at Frog UK, a part of Capgemini Invent.