DAILY NEWS Nov 14, 2012 2:29 PM - 0 comments

Young consumers want face-to-face for complex transactions: survey

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Individuals aged 18 to 29 who responded to a recent survey by Celent report wanting to receive face-to-face customer service for complex transactions.

That was among the more surprising findings suggested by the survey, which involved 523 responses from North America and 326 from the United Kingdom, notes the Innovation in Insurance report on the North American sample, released on Tuesday.

Young people

“Celent believes that one explanation for this result is that youthful purchasers of products, particularly insurance and financial instruments, want assistance in understanding and navigating their choices, “ the report states. “The vision of a future landscape of largely disintermediated service and distribution, motivated by the online preferences of a younger purchaser, is not supported by this data.”

Among other things, the survey sought to identify consumer preferences around customer service, while the report examines how findings support or challenge assumptions usually made about insurance consumers.

“Innovation in customer service for the current and next generations of consumers should support the process and data hand-offs required to facilitate customer service across service methods, including face-to-face interactions,” the report notes.

“Innovation in customer experience is a significant investment area for insurers,” Mike Fitzgerald, senior analyst with Celent’s Insurance Group and co-author of the report, says in a press release from the company, a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, Inc. “The data from this report can inform the planning and design of those investments with hard empirical data from end-consumers.”

Citing findings from another Celent study involving 150 insurance companies, the report notes that 80% of respondents reported they are either replacing or re-engineering their core administration systems. “Given this expectation, it is critical for insurers to first understand, and then meet, the customer service delivery preferences of consumers.”

Perhaps less surprising than the desire of younger respondents for face-to-face interaction were the following findings: increased use of smartphones to perform customer service activities; the desire to use self-service for simple transactions and for complex functions; and grading convenience, ease of use, and speed as the top features desired in customer service technology.

For most insurance companies, innovation in service technology – for example, in the form of service via smartphones and the ability to hand off tasks between automated systems and call centre personnel – is necessary to deliver consumers’ service requirements, notes the statement from Celent. But will an insurer gain any benefit in the eyes of consumers if it pursues innovation?

Based on survey results, Celent is encouraging insurers to do the following:

  • build a better understanding of their customer base and their needs around the products sold and services delivered;
  • evaluate where innovation investment is now being channelled and rethink customer journeys and what assumptions underlie the design of those pathways; and
  • design customer service platforms for simple and complex interactions.

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