Stamford, Conn. – Insurance carriers in North America and Western Europe need to become more customer-oriented to remain competitive, according to a study by Gartner Inc., the research company based here.

“Insurers must find a way to meet the wants and needs of the next generation of consumers,” advises Annemarie Earley, managing vice president for Gartner’s financial services research team.

Companies need to accomplish that goal even though today’s consumers “are more sophisticated, are more self-directed, and bring much-higher expectations for competitive products and convenient, 24/7 service,” than consumers of the past, says Earley.

What’s more, honing the necessary “customer-centric” qualities could require difficult organizational and technological changes, warns Earley. Becoming consumer-driven could prove culturally disruptive and may call into question basic beliefs, she says.
Still, companies need to carry on, she says, and insurers could begin by developing personalized marketing and pricing strategies, the researchers suggest.

Carriers also can shift their focus to consumers, Gartner says, providing the example of working toward faster claims payments.
In addition, companies can work to simplify customer-facing processes and core systems that support customer interactions.

Creating useful and intuitive consumer Web sites can become a central part of long-term strategies, the researchers suggest.

Source: Gartner Inc.

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