Social media is an adventure many carriers have embarked on, with anticipation of interacting with global networks of customers. However, beyond better customer relations, there may be little value until companies take the next step – leveraging the data they collect from social networks into insights on customer trends. The possibilities of this next stage – Social CRM – open a lot of new possibilities. In preparing a recent article for INN on social CRM, I heard from Stuart Rose, global insurance marketing manager at SAS, about the possibilities for the industry.
Rose observes that social CRM won't happen overnight – in fact, insurers are taking more of a cautious approach toward this new method of customer interaction and data-gathering. “Social media and Social CRM is being embraced by many different industries,” Rose points out. “Unfortunately the conservative nature of the insurance industry means that they are often slow to adopt new technologies.”
While the pace of adoption may be slower than in other places, “there is no denying that social media will have a large influence on the insurance industry,” says Rose. He notes that at this point, basic social media is still the main focus – he is seeing many insurers implementing a Facebook page “as a simple marketing tool, because everyone else is doing it.”
However, he continues, “the more innovative insurers are using social media more creatively” – and this is where Social CRM practices are gaining an early foothold. Farmers' Insurance, for example, uses the Facebook game Farmville to engage customers. In another example, Generali in France has developed a concept called Kontsurnous, “a group insurance scheme where tribes of up to 15 buddies – family, friends, or colleagues – join together. For each policy sold in the group, the tribe will earn points. These points can then be redeemed for lower premiums or reducing the deductible in the event of a loss. This concept has allowed Generali to increase its customer base while reducing its acquisition costs.”
Rose says a number of insurance functions can be addressed by social CRM, not only including sales and marketing, but also claims, customer service, and underwriting. Fraud is another key area, he says. “Special investigation units are using link analysis to create networks of entities to investigate organized crime rings, as well as investigating claimants for fraudulent claims – for examples, photos on Facebook of a person on disability running a marathon.”
Is new technology or software necessary to get started with a Social CRM strategy? “It depends on the carriers social media strategy,” Rose explains. “Little investment is needed to create a Facebook page to promote and advertise their brand. However, if they are going to analyze the vast amount of social CRM data available for sentiment analysis or claims fraud, they need to invest in more sophisticated analytics tools."
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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