The life insurance business—insurance, annuities, retirement—is one of the most dynamic business sectors globally. A recent PwC CEO study reported that more CEOs of life insurance companies were pursuing new business models than companies in any other sector.
The study notes that an “effective use of technology is going to be a crucial factor to spur greater innovation and differentiation as business models evolve. Applying digital technology in the life insurance markets, for example, is leading towards more flexible assisted and self-directed models for buying policies.”
These companies are all trying to make the same shift: from a supply orientation to a demand or customer-based business model. The fastest growing businesses today are building value chains that start with the customer, innovate around unmet needs and deliver products and services through connected experiences and ecosystems that allow for a high level of engagement, personalization, and advocacy.
But this kind of growth requires change and this is a challenge for the life insurance/retirement industry where the prevailing belief is that the product is sold not bought.
Here are three key strategies for making the shift and achieving customer-led growth:
1. Bring the customer into the conversation. This is an opportunity for life insurance companies to display their skills in supply-side economics—underwriting, product design, pricing, and distribution—while offering a level of transparency where the customer can engage and voice his or her unmet needs.
2. Make the economic case for experience. Delivering connected customer experiences requires functional integration and capital expenditure (capex). We witnessed it in a recent case for a global services business; we calculated an incremental $300,000,000 lift in revenue simply from optimizing the customer experience. And that was for one segment in the US alone.
3. Lastly, increase the market rhythm. By opening the gates to allow management to listen to the customer, you’re accelerating the rhythm of the marketplace. This, in turn, changes the speed at which customers make decisions about your product. Life insurance and annuities generally have a very slow rhythm, but, with this new flow, it changes the natural frequencies and sells opportunities.
By simply bringing the customer into the business, making a case for the business valuation to free capex and encourage functional integration, and building experiences that will relate and increase the market rhythm, the life insurance business model can be shifted into a personal and life-long experience.