Canadian Underwriter

How to know what customers want out of their digital experience

March 9, 2023   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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There are two main challenges that businesses encounter when improving their digital customer engagement. 

On the one hand, businesses are increasingly challenged by the assumption that all customers are the same. On the other hand, many businesses are tripping up by focusing on a “digital” outcome rather than a “business” outcome, according to a Harvard Business Review article.  

With brokers and insurers ramping up their digitization efforts, the industry is no stranger to this dilemma.  

For example, when asked, “How important is it for you to receive your insurance documents in paper format?” more than 50% out of 8,000 consumers responded affirmatively. About one-quarter wanted digital delivery and the other 25% said they “could live with digital.” But another 50% of respondents wanted their documents in paper format, according to results of Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s (IBAO) Going Paperless project. 

For the industry, this highlights a common business challenge about how to best prioritize and focus customer experiences, especially as no two customers want the same thing out of their digital experience—just as no two customers have the same risks. 

“Standing still is never an option, but knowing where to focus and what will make the greatest difference to your customers’ experience is not easy,” Michael Ross writes for HBR. 

For businesses to succeed, they should focus on three core principles: 

  • Put the digital experience in the business context.  
  • Recognize that customers are not created equal. 
  • Make zero-based decisions. 

There’s one key way businesses can put the digital experience into a business context.  

Instead of thinking of digital experiences as a funnel—where conversion rates equal success—the industry may consider thinking of the digital experience as a “window” into their overall business proposition instead.  

“While it might be alluring to focus on conversion rate and to frame it as the objective of the digital experience, that is rarely the route to success. It is critical to understand how the digital experience drives profit and to focus on solving a business problem,” writes Ross.  

Further, no customer is created equally. 

That’s why businesses can leverage their customers digital experience to understand what is important for different customer segments.  

For example, a customer who is using their phone to buy a policy will have a different web-page experience than one who is using a PC. Digital experiences should be personalized, when appropriate, based on how a customer interacts with your business.  

“Personalizing your customer experience extends to understanding what is important for your high value, and high potential value, customers,” the blog reads.  

Lastly, having a zero-based approach (i.e. looking at a problem from a fresh perspective, without reference to a previous practice), will allow businesses to regularly challenge their priorities and actions to make better decisions.  

However, the challenge for most businesses is analyzing their business objectives along side their customer data to lead to the highest impact actions.

“Being intentional about where to focus is a significant management challenge and at its core it is an analytical challenge. What to measure to drive the right diagnosis? Which digital objective to optimize? How to understand the interconnectedness of the digital experience to the rest of the business?…There’s rarely a shortcut to doing the analysis.” 


Feature image by Mihai