Winning in the new world of the connected customer

Mobile technology has changed the landcape of modern business. Consumers now look online for everything from mortgages to mattresses. At the 2014 Life Insurance Conference in Chicago, James Quade spoke to just that. 

Quade, assistant vice president and managing director of strategic partnerships at Liberty Mutual, talked of how mobile technology continues to change the way consumers shop for insurance and what some companies are doing to reshape their distribution systems.

"The newest generations are 'digital natives,'" Quade said. "My youngest nephew bought a mattress on Amazon by looking at reviews. If you don’t think life insurance can be sold over the Internet, you may want to reconsider."

Quade then reminded the audience that almost 80 percent of all adults use the Internet every day and there are more than 4 billion users of mobile devices worldwide today.

Are you as avaialbe as potential consumers of your product want you to be? Are your online ads geared toward those who should see them?

"I use [mobile application] MapMyRun and went home and downloaded my run to my computer and was pushed an ad for running shoes. Why not for life insurance?," Quade appropriately asks.

In this age, it's true: If you’re not mobile you’re not being noticed.

Are we making progress in the life insurance industry when it comes to being mobile? According to Quade's research, not really.

"Twenty-seven of the top 100 life insurance companies have developed mobile apps," Quade said. "The real opportunity is expanding your connectivity to the consumer. The life insurance industry has not yet moved 100 percent to delivering what consumers want completely online.

Quade evidenced this by illustrating a few experiences of his own. He recently used various life insurance mobile apps to get quotes on a life insurance policy. When he clicked “purchase policy,” the app merely provided names of agents to contact, instead of letting him purchase a policy completely online. 

Google recently purchased the UK insurance comparison site Beat that Quote, leaving insurers anxious for what’s to come. What are the implications?

Now what? In this mobile environment, Quade suggests:

  • Build a compelling business case to assure senior management commitment to the emerging realities of the connected customer;
  • Invest in data and analytics, critical to building a successful mobile deployment strategy;
  • Do not attempt to move your desktop website to mobile; and
  • Build a mobile technology platform that is a contextually relevant experience.

There are challenges to this, however. As Quade stated, mobile development challenges that remain are:

  • Security – avoid a target data breach event;
  • Interoperability – integrating with archaic back-end sytems;
  • Customization – packaged solutions are difficult to retrofit;
  • Environment – can exisiting environments and production systems scale to keep up with demand?;
  • Collaboration – requires significant stakeholder interaction; and
  • Budget – fully rationalize by striking a balance with qualitative and quantitative elements.

Quade, and many others within the industry, stress that going mobile may be challenging and intimidating, but it is also necassary. The livelihood of the life industry may depend on it.

About the Author
Emily Holbrook

Emily Holbrook

Emily Holbrook is the Executive Managing Editor for National Underwriter Life & Health and Markets Channel Editor for LifeHealthPro.com. Emily has covered the financial, risk management and insurance industries for more than a decade, with her work appearing in Risk Management and the National Law Review. She graduated with dual degrees in Finance and English and worked in the financial industry as a fixed income trading administrator and analyst before becoming a writer. Emily is also a freelance food writer. She can be reached at eholbrook@SummitProNets.com or on Twitter @LHPro_Emily.

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Demand for mobile-delivered policy info is growing

People 40 and older still prefer to receive notifications on insurance renewals via email or post.

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