Stefano Bridelli: How Insurers Can Reinvent Customer Relationships



As insurers struggle to differentiate themselves among consumers, forward-looking companies are taking a new approach. Stefano Bridelli, a partner with Bain’s Financial Services practice, discusses how insurers can increase profitability and defend their strategic position by creating ecosystems of services that complement traditional insurance products.

Read the Bain Brief: Ecosystems—How Insurers Can Reinvent Customer Relationships

Read the transcript below.

STEFANO BRIDELLI: Insurance companies have a hard time to differentiate among themselves. The products look the same. Channels are just about the same. They end up competing on price.

Some of them turn to digital to try and make themselves different, which is good. They use websites, mobile apps, friendlier customer centers to make the customer experience faster, easier, more digital. That's great, but fundamentally replicable. And there is a dark side to the digital aspect because little monsters called aggregators end up being just very big shopping windows where your product will be compared to others just on the basis of price.

Leading insurers, more digitally savvy, not only do that but try and add on services to the core product that will make the customer interaction more frequent and more sticky. Examples: small services around your house, telematics to make your driving easier for yourself and for your kids, smoke or intrusion detection, or, in health plans, the ability of perhaps scheduling visits to your doctor. We call this set of services ecosystems. Ecosystems of add-ons that tend to make the experience more repeatable, more sticky, leading to a higher renewal rate.

In our latest survey around the world of 170,000 customers, we found that 80% of them had interest in ecosystems. And looking at the competitors, we found that those who have launched ecosystems tend to have higher premiums and higher renewal rates, very strong. Eighty percent is not 100%, meaning some customers will only look for price and some insurance companies will only focus on cost. They will be at great risk, because many companies—automakers, farmers, technology providers—are looking at ways, digital, to get hold of that relationship and add on insurance just as an additional product, again competing on price. Very dangerous position to be in.

Ecosystems can be good for your profitability in the short term, will defend your strategic position in the long term. Easier said than done. They require quite a bit of work. Identifying what services your customers really appreciate, whether you can build with partners, supply chains that will deliver consistently with your brand promise. Hard to do. Very rewarding when you get it right.

Read the Bain Brief: Ecosystems—How Insurers Can Reinvent Customer Relationships