Customer Information Management: Strengthening the Customer/Product Connection

Integrating customer service with technology has been an area of progress among insurance carriers in recent years and should continue in that direction, according to Donald light, senior analyst with Celent.

"This is an area we'll see more improvement as companies make investments in consolidating the information platforms their CSRs use to make it easier for the CSR and, therefore, better for the person calling in," says Light.

(Light and Tech Decisions editor-in-chief Bob Hyle discuss customer information management in a podcast found at the Tech Decisions Web site. Click here to listen.)

Insurers and independent agents have walked a difficult line in controlling who owns a customer's data, according to Light.

"Historically companies have been happy with the independent agents owning the relationship, which means owning the data," he says. "Today, the tools to do things of value for the company and customers tend to reside more with insurance carriers than the producers. If you go to the commercial lines side, there is a truce that has been declared by the two sides and they recognize the difference in capabilities in large brokers on one hand and carriers on the other."

On the personal lines side, some policyholders have legitimate concerns about the privacy of their information, but Light believes those concerns are waning.

"I think people are becoming more comfortable--this is a slow societal evolution--with larger amounts of their personal information being used by corporate entities, but this is an area that is still evolving," he says.

The value of the data has increased as carriers try to find ways to cross-sell products to policyholders.

"This idea [of cross-selling]has been around almost since the dawn of the industry, but what has changed is the availability and skills needed to use analytic tool-sets and have business intelligence reporting available for workers and all levels of management," says Light. "I would also point to the evolution of CRM. In terms of making real time offers during interactions with customers, there is certainly a higher level of sophistication."

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