Canadian Underwriter

Understanding the changing customer key to helping prevent disruption, CIP Symposium speaker says

April 24, 2016   by Jason Contant, Online Editor

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Not understanding the changing customer could prove detrimental to the insurance industry, Sam Natur, CEO and president of Bullfrog Insurance, told conference attendees last week at the 2016 CIP Society Symposium in Toronto.

Sam N

Sam Natur, CEO and president of Bullfrog Insurance

“If you think that’s not going to happen in this industry or we’re different or we need to have more of a hands-on touch with our clients, I’ll give you a few examples of industries that have been dethroned by disruption,” Natur said, pointing to Myspace, Yahoo! and Blockbuster Video, among others.

“One thing that’s common is that they just didn’t get their customer. They just didn’t get that the customer is changing and customer demands are changing,” Natur said during a CIP Symposium Up Close and Personal session at the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday. “If you look at it, it happened in the blink of an eye for most of them. The industry didn’t change, the customer did and the industry blinked and missed it.”

Natur asked a series of questions to help identify the “symptoms” of an industry that could be disrupted: “Is the technology rapidly changing? Is it changing the game? Is it changing the way the customers are interacting with your industry? Are there new competitors with a different approach coming? Historically, has the industry been very lucrative? Because if so, guess what, somebody’s looking at it. Is it a highly regulated industry where change is difficult?”

“I think all of these apply to our industry,” he said. “You can take any industry and really turn it on its head. I like that. I like looking at something that seems ripe to change, seems ripe for improvement and sort of disrupting that.”

Natur used the example of entrepreneurs in Mississauga, Ont. who built a kiosk – similar to a bank machine – that could dispense medication. “The screen is actually a Skype call to a pharmacist down in a call centre in Orlando,” Natur told the audience. “So now instead of a pharmacist in every single pharmacy, you can have one pharmacist watching 10 pharmacies. Instead of building a brick-and-mortar pharmacy the size of Shoppers Drug Mart in Union station, you can put up 10 ATM-sized machines.”

Listening to business mentorSpeaking about Bullfrog Insurance, a Mississauga-based brokerage dedicated to commercial insurance for small businesses, Natur said that they initially “threw out a very large net,” even having somebody with a $30 million oil refinery come into the office within two weeks of launch. Now, he said, the company is very targeted, estimating that “close to 40%” of sales are done entirely online. “The final thing in our game plan for the second half of the year is to bring everybody who’s not doing their search online into the online channel,” Natur said during the presentation.

Understanding how people search for insurance is another important factor. “People don’t go searching for commercial insurance, that’s an industry word,” Natur said. “People go searching for contractor insurance, plumber insurance, electrician insurance. You really have to stop and put yourself in the shoes of the customer,” he said, adding that he goes through the archives of the company’s chat logs “and that has been very beneficial because you can actually see what the customer mindset is.”

From an online perspective, as a customer is filling out a questionnaire, Bullfrog staff are seeing the data on the other side of the system, Natur said. “We’re in the system with any question they get stumped on and we literally pop up and ask them if we can help them,” he related. “Sometimes they don’t understand a term, there’s a broker there that answers that. Sometimes they see a quote and they go ‘Is this U.S. or Canadian?’”

“I think our customers are feeling more engaged with Bullfrog than say a customer that only sees their broker once a year or once every six months,” Natur concluded. “Technology is not quite isolating, it’s quite engaging actually.”

More coverage of the 2016 CIP Society Symposium

Personal lines set to dramatically change, but will not disappear altogether: speakers at CIP Symposium

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