When was the last time you thanked your car or home insurance agency for helping you? Or reached out to them before you got into a fender bender with another driver to talk about safe driving tips? Probably never-- if you are less than 80 years old.
In the olden days, a person depended upon their agent to help them through life changes - to know when they are buying a home or having a baby and enabled them to prepare and protect. The industry has became somewhat price-driven over the past 10 years -- as old-school relationships waned, people made buying decisions based on rates and not on sage consult from a trusted agent. But, insurance agencies are getting back to the basics of yesteryear when relationships mattered. Due to social media, insurance agencies and their customers are re-engaging their relationship -- online.
As I prepared for a talk I am giving next week to an group of insurance executives, I found a data point that more than 90% of Insurance, Annuity Providers Use Social Media according to a recent report "Social Media Leaders" by Corporate Insights (April, 2012). And, we have all seen social media marketing being used by insurance in interesting and innovative ways. Some examples include
- The Progressive Girl on Facebook where a person can talk to the Flo, play games and see her garden gnomes as she prepares for summer. She has over 4.1 million "likes" and 24K comments;
- Geiko's YouTubechannel which include some funny videos including one about how a Dad saved money on a pet for his kid by adopting a wild possum instead of buying a puppy; and
- State Farm's twitter account has over 23K followers and actively provides customer service through the channel.
These social efforts represent the human face of insurance and, given the number of fans and followers, the reaction is positive! But, how much of this attention to social media marketing is really furthering the ability for insurance to better serve their customers? Your mileage may vary. I can't help but wonder how quickly the bar will be raised by customer expectations of a deeper relationship. In an industry fraught with low customer loyalty records, the opportunity to attain purposeful, sustained interactive exchanges between insurers and customers is front and center for both the company and the customer alike.
One online community that has captured my attention as evidence of purposeful, sustained customer engagement is the AllState Community.
Here, great things are happening between AllState insurance experts and customers! From blogs about understanding gas price inflation to discussion with other customers about going green, this online community is leading the charter on thought leadership and getting ahead of the issues that affect insurance decisions before the time of need. The community is broken out into 4 topical areas:
Making a Difference - Share your ideas about making a difference in your community
All Things Wheels - Share your ideas on how to be safe and smart about what you drive
Daily Spending - Share your ideas about managing and tracking your spending
Personal Finance - Share your ideas about protecting and planning for your future
This community is a powerful example of an insurance company engaging with customers, learning their needs and supporting them with key information, products and services driven by the online engagement. It moves well beyond "likes" and "friends" to enable real outcomes that benefit both customer and company alike. As many carriers struggle to demonstrate ROI from their social marketing, communities such as the AllState's can turn ideas shared into new products and services, gain and retain more customers through customer intimacy, enable greater customer awareness of topic that effect insurance premiums. The also get ahead of risks and potential problems by providing valuable information and support before the dreaded "fender bender" occurs. So, next time you wonder what your insurance company had done for you lately, go see if they have an online community to support you - you may be pleasantly surprised!