Chicago – To get a better sense of what trends the insurance industry can expect as it heads into 2008, Insurance Networking News talked with John Del Santo, managing director for Bermuda-based consultancy Accenture, which counts 34 of the top 40 insurers in the world among its clients.

“2007 was more about efficiency and cleaning up the back office," Del Santo says." There were a ton of core system replacement projects that were launched in 2006 and 2007. For 2008, it’s still a theme but didn’t resonate to the top.”

Instead, Del Santo explains that the year ahead will see customer-facing initiatives take center stage. “Customer experience projects seem to be a big trend. Every company has one going on,” he says, noting that well-publicized efforts by customer-centric carriers such as Chevy Chase, Md.-based GEICO to tout their customer service initiatives has forced other carriers to follow suit. “There’s a massive amount of media emanating from insurers in North America–you can’t turn on a TV without seeing an ad.”

For carriers, offering an integrated customer experience is paramount, Del Santo says. “They want the experience you get online to be similar to the experience you get from the call center or if an agent stops by your house.”

To help shift from the traditional focus on sales growth to a more customer and agent-centric approach, Del Santo suggests carriers begin a program to start measuring customer experience. “Whether it is engaging a third party or some sort of internal benchmarking, companies need to know where they stand vis-à-vis the competition.”

Another trend likely to be big 2008 is the move by carriers to beef up their risk management capabilities. Employing location intelligence solutions is essential, as is maintaining underwriting discipline, Del Santo says.

Also coming to fore in the coming year is the need by insurers to serve the Web-savvy Gen X and Gen Y demographic, while at the same time servicing the baby boom generation. With $9 trillion in retirement income in play, and the annuity sales expected to double to $300 billion in the next 3 to 5 years, life insurers will need the correct technologies in place.

Source: Accenture

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