Who is the insurance customer of the future? What might they believe in and what might they expect from their providers now and in a decade? And in what ways might insurers need to transform their businesses to win with these customers? What should these companies prioritize in their transformation journeys to best serve these customers?

These are just some of the questions Prophet’s financial services leaders asked panelists during our recent webinar. Prophet’s research The Insurance Customer of the Future, sat at the center of the dialogue – prompting panelists to share how they’re seeing the demands of the customer of the future impact their own organizations today.

The panelists, Michelle Froah (MetLife), Rohit Mull (Thrivent) and Benjamin Braunschvig (Shift Technology) brought a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives on the topic and wowed the audience with stories of how their organizations are already transforming to meet the anticipated needs of customers living in 2030.

Here are five of the ways organizations can start meeting their expectations now.

1. Customer Demand: “I need to be in charge of my personal data”

Don’t step on their toes – give customers the control.

Rohit Mull, Chief Marketing Offer at Thrivent, explained the fine line organizations must walk between personalization and the undesirable “creep factor.” It’s a conundrum many are facing as they try to develop personalized customer experiences that do not impede on customers’ autonomy and protection over their personal data.

So how do you get this balancing act correct in a connected, data-rich world? Companies should avoid an “all-in” approach to data mining. It will rub customers the wrong way and in turn, impact the image they have of your brand. Insurers must embrace a human-centered mindset when asking customers for more of their personal information – considering the sensitive areas and empowering customers with transparent controls that allow them to select how much information they want to share.

2. Customer Demand: “I want to feel as if the product was designed just for me”

Embrace adaptive technology without losing sight of the power of human empathy.

Benjamin Braunschvig, Global Head of Partnerships at Shift Technology (AI-SaaS InsurTech company), says customers expect their insurance providers to show up as cutting-edge digital platforms like DoorDash, Uber and Amazon. They want on-demand, frictionless instant experiences. Customers today – and certainly in the future – want efficient, correct answers to complex problems. And AI can provide that.

AI will play an increasingly big role in creating individualized insurance products, services and experiences that are adaptive and scalable.

But Benjamin warns. Insurance providers need to be thoughtful to determine which interactions should be handled by a human and which can be passed off to the machine. For example, when a customer files a claim, it can be an emotionally charged moment and companies need to get it right. If AI provides irrelevant answers in a moment that matters, customers will turn to other insurers. If the claim is filed incorrectly – without the human eye – you’ll lose customers. If you pay the claim that should be denied – you’ll lose money.

3. Customer Demand: “I must trust and verify the brands I support”

Provide simple ways for your customers to understand the products they’re using.

Rohit explains that digital technology has made customers of the future much more of validators, rather than delegators. Next-gen customers are willing to do the work. They are not simply checking boxes – they are doing extra research into their insurers and trying to independently understand and verify the products they are using.

The antiquated “set it and forget it” strategy won’t work for this cohort of customers. Michelle Froah, SVP Global Marketing Strategy and Sciences at MetLife anticipates that demand for transparency will only grow. She believes the onus will be on insurance leaders to provide simple ways for customers to easily understand what they own and how they use products. And this expectation is disrupting the intermediary model itself as customers turn to digital solutions over agents. Part of building trust with customers is providing flexibility. Michelle says this is done by providing customers value-added services that provide immediate solutions without long-term commitments.

4. Customer Demand: “I expect companies to follow me everywhere”

Grow existing relationships by offering holistic solutions at each life stage.

Insurance leaders need to look beyond target customer acquisition segments and focus on each sub-component of their new and existing audiences. Rohit says it’s extremely important for insurers to be hyper-focused on driving relevance at each life stage to keep existing customers now and into the future. It’s about understanding what they need now and giving them advice across their set of current requirements. Customers always want to be reassured that they are not missing out on opportunities to improve their plans or to readjust their selections to fit their changing lifestyles.

Part of growing these relationships is creating more holistic offers that bridge across different solution providers. Michelle encourages insurers to translate and deliver real-time value by providing connection points with customers that help build trust and relationships with customers.

5. Customer Demand: “I need to be assured companies behave equitably and ethically.”

Understand what matters most to your customers to transform your relationship with them.

As Rohit highlights, there are 6,000 insurance companies – not six. To be the insurance provider that customers choose and stick with requires organizations to not only modernize their solutions and experiences but also establish credibility and trust by weaving in fair practices and actionable values into their brand story. They need to signal how their organization aligns with customers’ personal priorities – such as workplace culture, social justice causes and environmental sustainability.

Customers have increased expectations regarding transparency and the degree to which they expect it, says Michelle. And this sense of transparency must be felt across all customer touchpoints – whether it’s an email communication or claim transaction. This demand for transparency, alongside the digital shift, opens an opportunity for agents to redefine their role as “life consultants” who provide more personal advice beyond insurance.

Organizations will not prosper equitably and ethically without diversity of thought at the top. To ensure that your organization is showing up authentically, leaders must embrace collaborative ways of working that welcome different backgrounds and perspectives, as these practices will spill over into the products and experiences that are built for next-gen customers.

Final Thoughts

Only about a third of organizations that set out to undertake a significant transformation journey achieve their original goals. The ones that do succeed take an incremental approach – working piece by piece to understand customer needs and transform their organization to best serve them. Transformation requires a bold vision and purpose, sound employee engagement strategy, an agile spirit exemplified from the top down and of course – a laser focus on the customer of the future.

To learn what organizations should be prioritizing in their customer-centric transformation journey, watch the full webinar replay. For more insights, download the report or reach out to Prophet today.