By Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager at thryve
Insurance is an investment business, wrapped as a grudge purchase. Let’s be honest: if bad things didn’t happen, people wouldn’t need insurance. So it makes sense that a successful insurance business should treat their customers as investors who expect to see value when they need it most.
Of course, to make that possible requires a careful business model where profitability is very closely linked to managing risk while encouraging growth. These two forces – customers and the bottom line – can come in conflict with each other if not balanced carefully.
To be so bold, I believe this is a crucial problem for the insurance industry today: many underwriters don’t focus on the customer as much as they should, leaving that to the brokers. But if the underwriters don’t see customer-centricity as their culture, brokers tend to follow the same trend. Consequently, a good customer story is one where an insurer is not as bad as the customer thought they would be.
What is going on here? Are insurers just callous, people-hating types who roll on their money like Scrooge McDuck? No, not at all. Insurance is a people business. I blame the tools: whatever the reasons, insurance companies are hobbled by shallow, ineffectual business systems that reinforce old cultures and do nothing for customers.
Not all CRMs are equal
Many companies have tried to remedy this by deploying CRMs or Customer Relationship Managers. As the name suggests, this software should be all about customers. Yet CRMs have failed to create the transformational effect insurers are hoping for. They are too limited, tending to focus on narrow sales-driven relationships and leads. They are not equipped for the long-term, multifaceted relationships insurers need with their customers.
If insurance staff aren’t able to access the information that reinforces proper customer-centric processes, they won’t overcome this barrier. Normal CRMs are focused on instant gratification – instant sales. Insurance needs long-term commitments. It needs richer customer profiles and access to customers across multiple channels. The information needs to be easy to view and dynamically updated from the various information sources that will enrich a customer’s profile.
This is the fundamental distinction between a generic CRM and an insurance CRM. The latter is specifically honed to walk the line between long-term customer relationships and deep-horizon projections that keep the business feasible. It’s capable of displaying and interacting with insurance data in an easy-to-use and understandable way for reps and customers. These features are accomplished through a variety of means, including adaptable user interfaces and robust integration with other data sources, services and advanced technologies.
Big bang, low costs
For some, none of this is news and they are just waiting for the other shoe to drop: the high costs of a CRM customised for insurance use.
Yet this is no longer a factor, thanks to the incredibly flexible and malleable world of cloud applications. At thryve, we leverage Salesforce, the world’s leading business cloud platform. Its web interfaces, APIs and scalability render it easy to adapt to any business environment. A specific focus on insurance verticals at both Salesforce and thryve complete the circuit, delivering CRMs that are insurance-focused, bespoke to the customer and yet affordable through the value and depth of functionality they bring to the table.
In my next column, I’ll take a closer look at the specifics of this new breed of CRM, including how it leverages modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things devices, including fitness trackers. I’ll also discuss how insurance CRMs are opening doors to smaller competitors and one-person shops.
But suffice to say, insurance is a customer-centric industry that has always struggled to keep the customer at the centre. Insurance CRMs solve that problem and open a whole bunch of new doors as well.