Is it Time for Insurers to Transition from Customer Relationship Management to Customer Experience Management?

A commonly acknowledged concern for insurers is customer relations. It comes up in all the major analysts’ reports year-after-year. Most insurers have been investing in customer relationship management (CRM) programs over the last decade. Today, we’d like to ask if that’s enough and whether it’s time for insurers to consider transitioning to customer experience management (CEM) instead.

A Look at Traditional CRM Activities

The idea behind CRM was to enable companies to focus on the five key areas of customer experience; the customers themselves, the environment, the brand or brands, the systems used and the interfaces identified. In theory this is exactly what is needed to proactively deliver the perfect customer experience.

In practice the majority of CRM initiatives became bogged down in micro-level details; they tend to show high levels of operational or technical bias. It’s easy to see this – when you talk to executives about CRM they’ll start talking about activities like these:

  • Managing the CRM Platform
  • Hardware, software and systems
  • Developing CRM toolsets
  • Using CRM data
  • Developing better internal channels
  • Alignment of process or policy or both
  • Developing metrics

It’s not that these tasks aren’t important, they are, it’s that there’s an important aspect missing here – the customer experience strategy.

CRM work tends to have a narrow view of an organization and it leads to flawed customer experience management approaches.

How Can CEM Change This?

CEM is strategic. It requires a higher and maintained level of focus on customer experience rather than the tasks within the operation or the technology used to support this.

It requires the organization to fully identify what a great customer experience will look like and for that understanding to be embedded throughout the organization. Each individual within the business and each department should be singing from exactly the same hymn sheet here.

The organization requires realigning around customer experience; the customer experience is not an “add on” to the day-to-day activities of the insurer – it’s the core reason for the insurer’s continued existence.

Once this has been done, the insurer can then focus on:

  • Developing fully integrated customer experience support programs that operate seamlessly through the business
  • Ensuring that programs and campaigns run by any business unit integrate with the expectations of customer experience AND with each other
  • Developing a truly customer-centric management strategy at every possible touch point
  • Defining a company-wide set of customer-centric metrics which are clearly understood at every level of the business and which cascade correctly so that each person in the business can take ownership of customer experience

CEM differs from CRM in a key aspect. CRM strategies tend to be about the inside of the business and are operationally-centric rather than customer-centric. CEM strategies should shape products, services and ensure the customer experience over all channels and all touch points. It’s time for insurers to look outside of the business to solve their customer relationship problems. CRM was a step in the right direction, the next step is customer experience management. Then your customers will have something to celebrate.

Happy Insurance


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