Canadian Underwriter

How to keep Amazon and Google from eating your lunch? Think retail….

October 3, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Mukul Ahuja of Deloitte Canada (second from left) talked about the insurance industry can take lessons from the retail sector to boost the customer experience. He was joined by, from left, Ibeth Ramos of Cookhouse Labs, Joanna Mendonca of Staebler Insurance and BrokerTeam’s William Chan and moderator Paul Jackson from Gore Mutual.

Rather than worrying about the insurance product you’re trying to sell, think about how you’re servicing customers instead.

Mukul Ahuja, a partner at Deloitte Canada, discussed a recent study from the business advisory firm about the need to think about the “retail-ization” of insurance at the recent Gore Mutual Fast Forward Idea Accelerator in Toronto. People typically have to buy insurance, so it’s not something they’re excited about. But that doesn’t mean brokers can’t offer a great customer experience, he said.

Branding plays a key role. “There is an inherent association, or value, that a consumer perceives with any brand they interact with,” Ahuja said, adding that companies need to link their brand’s values to their customers’ values.

“That’s an expectation,” he said. “They want that connection. They want that meaning. We found through the study that there’s very little recognition of insurance brands, and that receptiveness amongst consumers to buy insurance – or other protection-oriented products and services – from brands that don’t typically sell insurance.”

These outsider companies have a level of trust already built with consumers and have proven to be better at giving consumers what they want better than traditional insurance companies, Ahuja said. So customers are naturally more favourable to them and likely to do business with them instead of a brokerage or carrier that hasn’t made that same connection.

So how do you build trust? “One is relevance.” he said. “Can you be relevant to [your customers’] needs at this time and beyond? Value: where’s the value in an insurance policy? Where is the value around helping me solve the problems that I’m dealing with or issues that I may have in my mind?”

He added that ease and convenience, as well as being transparent about offerings, are also important.

The creation of trust between broker and customer doesn’t happen overnight. It’s built through interactions over time, Ahuja said.

Gore Mutual’s Paul Jackson was the moderator for the panel, which also included William Chan, president of BrokerTeam, Joanna Mendonca, president at Staebler Insurance, and Ibeth Ramos, lead innovation coach at Cookhouse Labs. Panelists were asked about the size of the trust gap that exists. It’s pretty big, Ahuja answered, when you compare the relationships customers have with companies in other industries.

“There’s a trust deficit,” he said. “There’s an expectations gap. They [customers] are finding other avenues to fulfill that. It’s a matter of when, not if, an Amazon or Google and other trusted brands – [companies] that have a clear differentiation between what they stand for, and what they don’t stand for, in terms of the value they deliver – come and fulfill that proposition.”

But that also creates an opportunity for the industry to meet consumer needs, he noted. “When we talk about disruption, to me, that means opportunity. It means there’s tremendous opportunity for everyone in this room to really fill that gap and move forward and really building that relevance for customers.”

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