Étude IBM : Personnalisation et confiance, facteurs clés pour le secteur de l’assurance, de plus en plus dépendant de la technologie et confronté aux défis de la transparence

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Paris - 10 mars 2009:

Selon une étude de l’Institute for Business Value (IBV) d’IBM, les clients du secteur de l’assurance se voient souvent adresser des contrats et des options peu différenciés et mal adaptés. Or ils souhaiteraient au contraire de la part de leurs assureurs, des offres personnalisées et des relations de confiance. L’étude montre que les clients, désorientés, fuient les offres d’assurance standardisées pour se tourner vers des solutions individualisées.

Cette étude IBM IBV intitulée « Confiance, transparence et technologie, la vision du consommateur sur l’assurance et innovation » a été menée dans 11 pays différents dont la France, auprès de 4400 clients d’assurance. D’après ces derniers, les assureurs ne tiennent compte ni de leurs besoins ni de leurs spécificités, mais les classent uniquement selon des critères géographique et démographique. Le rapport IBM identifie alors cinq types de consommateurs qui veulent être traités différemment et personnellement par leurs assureurs.

L’étude met en lumière plusieurs recommandations permettant aux assureurs d’adapter leurs offres aux clients et de les rendre plus innovantes. Par exemple les compagnies d’assurance devraient s’appuyer toujours plus sur Internet, comme vecteur d’informations mais aussi comme support des requêtes des clients. Elles devraient également mettre l’accent sur le financement et le développement de leurs services aux consommateurs et de leurs réseaux d’agences afin de fidéliser leurs clientèles. Enfin elles devraient tirer avantage des réseaux sociaux qui permettent de partager des informations et d’améliorer le contact avec leurs utilisateurs.

Against a backdrop of turmoil, mistrust and reputational damage across the global financial services sector, the report demonstrates the importance in building underlying trust and positive personal relationships that can be tailored to individual behavioural and cultural differences.

The study identifies five different customer types that have varying demands and want to be treated differently and individually by their insurers. There are "support-seeking individualists" that do not trust the insurance industry as an anonymous entity at all. Instead, they seek a credible and trustworthy personal advisor to help them make the right decisions. In contrast, "price-sensitive analyzers" shop around for the best bargain, using whatever channel is available to them, looking for information, not advice.

The five groups identified were:

1. Support-seeking minimalists have very low trust in the insurance industry in general, but a high need of a personal expert to help them navigate their insurance options.

2. Product optimizers know what they need, shop around to find it and are willing to pay more, if necessary.

3. Uninterested minimalists are the fabled "low interest customers" who do not care about insurance and want as little as possible to do with it.

4. Price-sensitive analyzers seek information, not advice, about insurance and shop around mainly for price.

5. Relationship-oriented traditionalists are the "classical" insurance customers. They trust insurance more because they trust the person who sells the insurance – even though they don’t know the facts or how competent their advisor really is.

Contrary to popular wisdom, U.S. consumers are not bargain hunters: While a comparatively low premium does play a role in the value equation (79% state that low premiums are important), so do many other value factors. In the end, price-sensitive customers only make up 14% percent of the U.S. sample respondents, almost 10% less than the average. By contrast, the types who favor a personal relationship in one way or other add up to 52 % of respondents.

The study, completed in December 2008, also indicates significant interest in increased use of the internet for the day-to-day transactional dealings with insurance companies. However, customers still value a personal, perhaps long-term, and face-to-face relationship with their insurers.

The study shows that while insurance companies worldwide must continue to consider the internet as a viable channel for information or for customer handling on routine requests, they must still fund and support their customer service and agent networks to maintain customer loyalty from all the various client groups. Price is a hygiene factor, not to be ignored but also not to be used as the single competitive element.

Another point in the study’s findings is that insurers may find more success by investing in the flexibility and operational efficiency of their business processes and underlying infrastructure. Besides efficiency benefits, insurers must learn to be networked with their customers in a smarter way. Information and advice from peer groups are important for all age categories; however, insurers are still afraid of customers talking to each other. Instead of standing on the side lines, supporting and enhancing social network interaction could close that gap. This combines the best of efficiency, information sharing and convenience, which the study found to be important value factors.

Making these changes, insurers may be able to offer more innovative and individualized products to the variety of customer segments identified in the study and improve share by going beyond the "panic mode" of the moment. The researchers postulate that those firms who are able to innovate in these areas may be able to significantly improve their business in the downturn and even more so when world markets return to business as usual.

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