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Enabling “The Easy” Button for Insurance

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog titled, “Mayday for Insurance and Financial Services,” where I detailed how next-generation customer experience capabilities, such as virtual interactions between business experts and customers, are transforming business processes – such as the “Mayday” button technology offered on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX. The purpose of that blog was to explain virtual interaction capabilities and discuss how they are likely to become integrated into the insurance industry in the near future. So what’s changed? Well, I’ve gone from blogging about the changes to come, to speaking at insurance industry conferences about how virtual transactions are now transforming how the industry does business and how Cisco is helping fuel these virtual interactions.

I attended the Property Insurance Report National Conference, and had many great discussions. The focus of the conference was on ways the property insurance world is changing, through consideration of new ideas and the utilization of new tools being built. It’s widely considered that with the arrival of better information and tools, the most sophisticated insurers will be able to separate themselves from those who don’t take these changes as seriously or employ them as skillfully. Features such as online video sales and support are working in the real world for other industries, so how they can be applied to insurance?

At the conference, I gave a keynote presentation titled, “Omni-Channel for Insurance – Virtual Enhanced Distribution & Service Channels”. The presentation specifically focused on how virtual interactions are transforming the insurance industry and improving customer experiences.

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IoE Can Help Banks Can Restore Trust and Close the Value Gap with Customers

“Let the buyer beware” is a sentiment that dates back well before consumer protection and truth-in-advertising laws. Yet, the issue of trust continues to permeate all areas of society today. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “trust cliff” that affects the amount of information consumers are willing to share with retailers in order to have more relevant interactions.

Now, a new Cisco study on retail banking in 12 countries reveals a different kind of trust problem: consumers are getting less value than they expect from their banks, and this “value gap” is impacting customer trust.

The global financial crisis of 2007-2008 greatly damaged consumer trust in financial institutions, and brand equity has fallen along with it. In 2009, one year after the financial crisis, the world’s top 500 brands saw the value of their brands drop by 32 percent. For many banks, their brand value has yet to recover from pre-crisis levels.

But the roots of distrust go deeper than that. Our study shows that there is a fundamental disconnect between banks and their customers, and many customers no longer look to their banks to help them meet their financial goals. In fact:

  • 43 percent of customers say their bank doesn’t understand their needs
  • One in four would choose another provider for their next account or service
  • Only 40 percent of respondents worldwide turn to a financial professional for advice, and of these, 28 percent believe the advice is ineffective

IoE Trust and Value Gap graphic

Meanwhile, a growing cadre of disruptive “non-bank” innovators is exploiting this value gap between banks and their customers. They range from technology companies such as Apple and Google, to retailers such as Amazon.com and Tesco, to mobile and digital-only banking services, payment companies, and automated investment services. A surprising 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they would trust a non-bank for their banking services. In eight out of the 12 countries surveyed, more consumers would actually trust a non-bank than their own bank.

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In Emerging and Developed Markets Alike, Banking Customers Demand IoE-Driven Services

Around the world, banking customers express similar frustrations: they believe the value they receive from their banks is declining, at a time when their trust in those banks already has eroded.

What’s more, according to a Cisco survey of 7,200 banking customers in 12 countries, four out of five customers would trust a non-bank, such as a technology company or retailer, to handle their banking needs. Some of those disruptive competitors are succeeding where banks fail: by engaging customers with convenient transactions and value-added services.

The Cisco study found that Internet of Everything (IoE)-enabled services can help restore the value customers expect from banking institutions. IoE — the networked connection of people, process, data and things — makes it possible for banks to offer a more relevant, engaging, and convenient experience for customers.

Of the $19 trillion in global economic value Cisco estimates IoE can create over the next decade, 7 percent ($1.3 trillion) is accounted for in the finance market and could be addressed with concepts included in this survey.

The digitization of business and society is happening at a rapid pace and people are looking for improved, digital services that make life easier. Banks need to embrace this pace of change and deliver relevant services or risk becoming obsolete in a market where other providers are stepping in to fill the gaps.

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IoE Can Help Banks Regain Customer Trust by Delivering Better Advice and Mobile Services

In years past, a visit to the neighborhood bank branch often featured face-to-face meetings with a trusted advisor who would guide customers through their most challenging financial journeys — often over a cup of coffee. Today, many banks have ceded that privileged position of trusted advisor. While banks have made great strides in using technology to cut costs and streamline transactions, customer experience and engagement have suffered.

In a Cisco survey of 7,200 bank customers in 12 countries, 43 percent of customers said their primary bank does not understand their individual needs. As a result, many respondents feel that their choice is between bad financial advice or no advice all. Moreover, nearly one in four bank customers intend to choose another provider for their next financial product or service. Increasingly, that provider could be a non-bank such as Apple, PayPal, or a retailer. Four out of five customers would trust a non-bank to handle their banking needs.

The Advice Advantage: How Banks Can Close the ‘Value Gap’ and Regain Customer Trust from Cisco Business Insights

Clearly, the perceived value that customers receive from banks is declining, along with their trust in banks to represent their interests. Banks are seen as commoditized — and replaceable — providers of transactions. Meanwhile, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and some well-publicized banking scandals, banks’ “trusted advisor” status has suffered. Moreover, it is easier than ever to switch to a non-bank that customers believe has a better understanding of their needs.

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The Advice Advantage: How Banks Can Close the ‘Value Gap’ and Regain Customer Trust

Today’s banking consumers are used to experiences that reflect their likes, dislikes, past histories, and even their future plans. But not always from their banks. These kinds of interactions are more common when buying an online book, streaming a movie, or planning a vacation. Despite numerous omnichannel initiatives, many banks continue to lag in providing contextual, relevant, and convenient experiences to their customers. And while many customers yearn for personalized financial guidance, a Cisco survey of 7,200 smartphone users and bank customers in 12 countries found that for too many bank customers, the choice is between no advice, or what they perceive to be generic advice delivered inconveniently.

As a result, bank customers often try to attain their most important financial goals on their own, via “friends” on social media, or from non-traditional providers of financial services. Moreover, since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, banks’ brand equity has fallen. Read More »

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