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Video Killed The Radio Star, But Can It Save The Insurance Agent?

On August 1, 1981, the world was introduced to Music Television as the first MTV music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles debuted. Today, music videos have grown from a pioneering use of video content to help convey the message of a song, to an automatic accompaniment to newly released music. Oftentimes, the song is now the background to the greater story told via video. The combined use of “music” and “video” to convey the artist message is a consumer expectation enhancing their customer experience.

So what does this have to do with insurance?

Today, many customers are increasingly turning to the internet and mobile devices to shop for insurance and interact with insurance providers. Direct writers and technology savvy providers like Progressive, Geico and Esurance are experiencing rapid customer growth. This growth has been supported by offering customers cutting-edge mobile technology services, while traditional insurance companies, supported by agents, are now challenged to keep up or risk losing market share. In fact, Geico recently surpassed Allstate for the number two position in auto insurance market share; outpaced only by long time industry leader State Farm.

There is hope for the insurance agency distribution model, however. The use of agents to purchase and handle insurance transactions is not likely going away. There are still many products and services that consumers prefer to interact with an agent for. The expectation of that interaction, however, is quickly changing. Today’s consumers live in an anytime, anywhere, any device world. This trend has become a main contributor for how we receive our news and information. It’s also how we make many retail purchases, access our entertainment and increasingly, how we choose to interact with insurance and financial services providers. Retail banks and wealth management firms have already begun offering real-time, virtual interactions with their customers via live “agents” or “advisors”. While we’ve been predicting the movement of this trend toward the insurance industry, Esurance’s recent release of the “Video Claims Appraisal” has provided a wake-up call and “shot across the bow” for insurers.

You don’t have to own a proprietary Amazon Kindle to get “Mayday”-like assistance at the touch of a button on your tablet. Today, technical capabilities that allow customers to escalate conversations and engage in real-time are being deployed throughout the market place. Insurance consumers will also have the ability to click to “connect now” from a company website or mobile application for on the spot virtual interaction with an insurance agent or representative. Consumers that need help with a quote, require assistance after an accident or loss, or who would like help with insurance or retirement planning can click to “connect now” anytime, anywhere, from any device they choose.

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, video interaction is projected to overtake video content in volume by 2018. We use video today to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, colleagues and business partners. Now, we can use video to interact with our insurance agent when, where and how we need them. Savvy agents and carriers will recognize this trend and follow it, in order to help further differentiate the services they provide to their customers.  Those who do not acknowledge the video trend in insurance and begin utilizing it will be bogged down in their old ways of having to travel to the insurance agency when help is needed, work their way through a call center, make their way online, or worse, send an e-mail or written correspondence.

Today’s consumers can and will choose to interact with their insurance agents and providers via video. However, those companies that are providing multiple, convenient avenues for customers to interact with their agents will likely lead the industry. Cisco is changing the way we live, work, play, and now with video, the way you interact with your insurance agent! Learn more about Cisco’s solutions for insurance here.

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Interaction Technology: Neutralizing the Barriers of Time, Location, and Staffing Levels

In my last blog, I continued the discussion about the 24-hour bank and how banks must transition from the physical business model to the digital business model. As part of my series on the 24-hour bank, this post builds on the question of how banks could begin to develop the capabilities, enabled by technology, to address the operational and logistical challenges inherent in operating in a customer-driven 24-hour world.

First are the factors that shape our existing banking distribution model: the traditional route to market and how clients connect and interact with their bank. Starting with branches, the traditional distribution model has evolved with the development of technologies such as the telephone, ATM’s, and the Internet. While these technologies provided increased options for clients to interact and transact, they were still affected by constraints of the existing operating model– the availability of bank staff with the requisite skills.

How so? Contact centers, telephone, and online banking required a shift in staffing models to enable customers to interact and transact outside of the normal work day. ATM’s began to allow customer self-service for certain basic transactions at any time of day. Collectively, these technologies extended operating hours for clients, but services were limited due the fact that the expertise required for more complex services were still unavailable outside the traditional workday. Read More »

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Cisco and Ignite Sales Join Forces to Solve Banks’ Customer Acquisition Challenges

Accelerating organic growth across segments, products, and services is a prime objective for today’s banks. The rubber often hits the road with the account opening process. And that process can go flat, especially when a customer runs into difficulties that cause it to breakdown creating an undesired customer experience. Cisco and Ignite Sales know that those potholes can be avoided and that’s why we recently teamed up during the Save the Bank Challenge Technology Showcase at the American Banker Digital Bankers Summit, in Los Angeles, CA and demonstrated how cross-channel account opening is a core element of an engaging customer on-boarding experience.

Customers who have a great on-boarding experience are inclined to consider additional products or services from the bank and the best time to capitalize on this opportunity is at the point of sales, when they are already buying. With the Cisco and Ignite Sales solution, banks have an opportunity to make account opening the centerpiece of a compelling customer acquisition strategy. Our ‘Save the Bank’ demonstration showed an Omnichannel account opening process that closes the gap that all too often exists between digital channels and in the branch. Read More »

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Delivering More Personalized Customer Service

At Cisco Live, Hans Hwang, VP of Cisco Advanced Services spoke with Todd Walthall, Vice President, Digital Servicing Integration from American Express about how they are taking their customer service to the next level. By partnering with Cisco, American Express is piloting video chat capabilities in their American Express iPad application. With a push of a video icon button on an iPad, a video window appears, and a customer connects directly to a customer service representative to receive concierge service.

AmEx at Cisco Live 3c

Seeing this demo reminded me of a recent session I had the opportunity to attend where Rob Honts from Accenture presented on customer retention and loyalty, which is part of their annual Global Consumer Pulse Research survey. One of the key findings that Rob highlighted from the survey is that the number one reason customers stay with and switch their service provider is due to customer service. Not convenience. Not product.  Dare, I say it? Not brand. But customer service. Read More »

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The New Price of Attracting and Retaining Insurance Customers

The insurance industry is facing a massive evolutionary shift driven by competition and changes in consumer preferences. The competitive battle is easy to see, as insurers delve out billions in advertising and marketing expenditures in an effort to attract and retain customers, while maintaining top of mind brand awareness and differentiation. And adding to the pile on--retail  banks are beginning to offer personal and commercial  policies, which means insurers are no longer only competing with one another, but banks as well.

Insurance fits into the broader context of how we live our lives. So, the same technology trends and innovations that are changing the way we interact with each other socially as well as with other products and services – travel, entertainment, automotive, to name a few–are changing the expectations we, as consumers, bring to the insurance experience. Customers want to interact with their insurance provider in the way they choose, at the time they choose, across any access channel with any device.     Read More »

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