Are insurance companies forgetting about their core business model? Are they forgetting about emotional engagement with the brand? Are they forgetting about customer loyalty and rewards? Are the insurance brands providing mere assurance to their customers over something more meaningful and more engaging?
Brand building and brand management in the Insurance sector has extreme challenges. Customers are only looking for assurance towards when the day comes and when they will have to use their policy, they can get the insurance claim without many problems. And yes, sadly enough, they are mentally prepared for some delay and roadblocks to their claims.
Most companies in their urge to differentiate themselves have further compounded the brand issues by categorising themselves as “Financial Services” and that has left them neither here, not there.
Clearly there is very little customer affinity for Insurance brands. Insurance brands have a very contractual, functional and financial brand association vs. an emotional one. The role of intermediaries and agents has further diluted the customer relationship with the insurance brands.
The role of intermediaries is enviable due to the degree of control they have on the end customer. Yet, nothing can be done about it as having sales forces that large would put the survival of the Insurance companies at risk.
All these translate into growth struggle, market share declines, reduced loyalty, lack of emotional engagement and trust with the brand, no repeat purchases.
How can all this be changed, or can it be changed? The answer is most definitely yes. Having a good sense of KPI and ROI for the agent fraternity and a robust cost benefit analysis for agents will provide the industry with startling results.
If the agents are not helping in building the brand, are proving to be a barrier to growth and take away a large part of revenue as commissions, then they need to be ring-fenced in some way to help drive a brand agenda as well.
As much as the agents are a barrier, they can be converted to an organisational asset where they are not just helping drive assurance but brand insurance. The question remains, how? Well, their KPI and ROI measures need to incorporate the $ value they have managed to contribute to the brand and not just the sales numbers and sales value. With a proper strategic brand valuation exercise and understanding the value that the agents drive, one can easily shape things for the brand advantage. i