Insurance is an age-old concept that has the distinction of being both a mechanism that protects us, and a constant reminder that bad things can happen to us. Accidents, health problems and crime are all things we’d rather not think of. But we have to, when we’re buying insurance. That’s what makes it such a uniquely personal process. And it makes buyers of insurance an unusually sensitive breed of customer.

Any hint of a bad customer experience is likely to send an insurance buyer to another provider. After all, we’re dealing with personal events happening in people’s lives here, and people are more likely to get annoyed or frustrated with mundane problems in filing claims, accessing information or talking to a representative.

Competition in the industry is fierce, and with all products functioning essentially the same way, the key differentiator for insurance companies is the customer experience. However, a study by Capgemini found that only 30% of insurance customers report a positive ‘insurance customer experience’. It’s a big gap, and one that is going to take a while to close.

When people think of customer experience in insurance, they usually think of customer service. There’s no doubt that a great customer service can be a huge differentiator, but customer experience needs to go beyond the service department.

More so than other industries, there is a great opportunity for insurance companies to provide highly personalized and targeted experiences for their customers. Typically, giving up personal information to an insurance provider feels like you’re being punished for being you. You’ve got pre-existing health conditions? Your health insurance premiums go up. You’re under 25? Your car insurance premiums go up. With all the personal information that’s available to them, wouldn’t it be great if insurance providers could use it to deliver positive personalized experiences, instead of using customer information to ding them on premium rates? A great example of this is Progressive’s use of a sensor device that tracks how safe you’re driving and rewards you with lowered insurance premiums.

In order to deliver highly personalized, positive experiences, where a customer is recognized as a unique individual, insurance companies need to invest in not just the right technology, but also the coordination of multiple teams sharing the same vision of a unified customer experience.

That’s no easy task, but we have the research to help you get started.