Accenture, the global management and consulting firm conducted a recent study by surveying owners of life and/or property casualty insurance policies from around the globe. In conducting the online survey, the company interviewed 7,010 respondents which included 1,000 from the U.S., 502 each from China, Germany, India, 501 each from Australia, Brazil, France and the UK, and 500 each from Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Spain. While the overall results determined that customer satisfaction is generally high, the study also highlighted the fact that significant gaps exist between what consumers want from their insurance and what they feel they are receiving.
For example, while 84 percent of the respondents were satisfied with their insurance provider, nearly two-thirds or 62 percent of those same respondents said it was very important for their insurer to provide clear and easy-to-understand information on their policies while only 27 percent said that they were satisfied with their insurer’s efforts to do so.
As such, Edwin VanderOuderaa, global managing director of Accenture’s Analytics group for financial services cautioned insurers about the make-up of the results. “This gap suggests that consumers have low expectations rather than that they are delighted with the experience they receive. But this means there is an opportunity for insurers to differentiate themselves and gain market share by leveraging analytics to assess which products and services are working best and which need to be changed to deliver a better customer experience.”
The Accenture survey also revealed that innovation is a key component that insurers and the like should be investing in. It found that more than three-quarters or 76 percent of respondents to the survey who were 35 years old or less expressed interest in using mobile devices to text insurers to receive updates on claim requests, or to interact with agents or brokers through smart phones equipped with video capabilities, compared to less than half or 46 percent of respondents who were age 45 or older.
In addition, the survey results from the Chinese marketplace discovered that 96 percent of customers said that they were interested in new mobile services. A look into other emerging markets found similar results with 91 percent of respondents in India, 88 percent in South Korea and 83 percent in Brazil also expressing interest in these new type of services. Younger consumers in these markets, however, appear to be the least loyal. By contrast only 63 percent of respondents on average were interested in mobile services, and in Germany the figure was only 41 percent. The pattern was similar regarding use of social media networks and blogs when purchasing new insurance. These appealed to 49 percent of Brazilian respondents compared to the average figure of 30 percent and just 14 percent in France.
On average, more than one-fifth (22 percent) of respondents said they were likely to stop doing business with at least one of their insurers in the next 12 months but the figure rose to 31 percent amongst the 18 to 24 age group and was significantly lower at 10 percent among the over-55s. Customers in emerging markets are also more likely to switch insurers to get products more relevant to their needs. For example, 96 percent of consumers in China were likely to switch, compared to 76 percent on average and only 59 percent in the US.
Other key findings of this survey include:
- Almost three-quarters (70 percent) of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were willing to pay more for this, compared to only a third (33 percent) of over 55s and 38 percent of 45 to 54-year-olds.
- This is also true of consumers in India, China, South Korea and Brazil, where 93 percent, 92 percent, 76 percent and 73 percent of respondents respectively would pay more, compared to an average figure of 52 percent and only 21 percent of French respondents.
- More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents think that insurance products and services are not easy to understand.
- Almost the same number of respondents (75 percent) believes that insurers generally offer the same products and services.
- More than three-fifths (61 percent) of respondents said that it was very important for their insurer to provide prompt and effective service, or to answer requests in a timely manner, but only 32 percent of respondents were very satisfied with their insurers’ ability to deliver such service.
- While 53 percent of respondents stated that access to the information they need whenever they need it is very important to them, only 29 percent felt very satisfied with their insurers’ capacity to provide assistance on a 24-hour, seven days per week basis.
As John DelSanto, Accenture’s Global Managing Director of the company’s insurance practice sums it up, “The fast-growing middle classes in emerging markets are determined to protect their new-found affluence and this has led to strong demand for insurance. This is a big opportunity for global insurers that are keen to expand. But they need to have a thorough understanding of the different groups of customers, especially the younger ones, and it will be important to develop innovative, personalized products and services and deliver them across all of the preferred channels.”