El Segundo, Calif., - Insurers feel the need to develop original approaches to attracting and retaining customer in various market segments. During a two-day conference hosted by Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), a few insurers gave examples of these approaches.Panelists at the conference noted that insurance marketing programs must appeal to three distinct generational groups: Generation Y (ages 18-29), Generation X (ages 30-40) and baby boomers (ages 41-59). Each group has distinct demands for service; therefore, insurers must offer different Web-based services that address their consumers' varying levels of comfort with technology.

"All innovation in the last 20 years can be attributed to software, and it's helped us change our business from transaction-based to more of an interactive relationship," says Lori Lehmann, director of Legal Initiatives at Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance Co. "Consumers are more comfortable with technology than ever before, but if potential customers on your Web site can't get a quote in seven to eight minutes, if it's too complicated or there are too many fields to fill out, they're going to bail. We need to make sure we have the internal talent or a third-party supplier that can continually streamline those processes."

During the panel session John Bader, vice president of Enterprise Infrastructure Services for Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co., shared information about its "Your Choice" automobile coverage. "Through our Your Choice Auto program, we've become really adept at pricing segmentation, and we're getting changes to market faster than ever," says Bader. "To aim this program at specific markets, we worked closely with our agents and added pieces that our research showed the local market desires--not just what the corporate office thinks the market demands--and that is really the basis of what we plan to do in the future."

The insurance industry's emphasis on innovation today has expanded from a focus on clients to also include the workplace as companies look to foster innovative thinking by their employees, according to CSC. For example, The Hartford Financial Services Group, a company that has provided insurance for nearly 200 years, now holds planning and brainstorming sessions in the "Transporter Room," a space with game tables and couches, rather than a standard conference room table and chairs.

"As an industry we need to take a lesson from the fast-food restaurants by adopting more of a pilot approach," says Andrew MacDonald, vice president and CIO at The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Hartford, Conn. "Before a fast-food restaurant rolls out a new product, it is tested in at least one market to determine customer acceptance. To enable this, it is very important to have flexibility in our systems so we can quickly and easily pilot new products."

Source: Computer Sciences Corp.

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