Corporate Insight recently attended the 2023 LIMRA Life Insurance & Annuity Conference, where digital- and technology-driven solutions were front-and-center across many panel discussions. Although the life insurance industry is notorious for a reluctance to adopt new technologies on the customer experience end, insurers are clearly taking major steps toward digital transformation.

Nowhere was this clearer than in the panel discussion: The Evolution of Customer Experience, where industry leaders spoke of their firms’ experiences with digital transformation and changes in customer service. Below are some of the key takeaways from that panel.

Customer Feedback Can Help Guide Digital Transformation

Insurers are increasingly prioritizing digital transformation to provide best-in-class service for their customers and to minimize policy administration costs. During the session, panelist Gaurav Mehra of Ameritas Enterprises spoke vehemently of the insurance and financial services firm’s ongoing digital transformation journey. When asked about which online self-service features Ameritas prioritizes for its policyholders, Mr. Mehra was clear that digital transformation takes time but cited “feedback from customer surveys” as a key driver of their transformation agenda.

CI’s own survey data has repeatedly found similar customer sentiment. Across industries, users expect better and easier digital experiences. Users especially want them in industries that lag when it comes to modern digital experiences. Digital represents a big area of opportunity for life insurers—as long as they can keep up with these ever higher customer expectations, as detailed below.

Customer Expectations for Chat Tools Pose Challenges for Insurers

Consumers tend to expect digital tools, like chat tools, to achieve the same standards set by more advanced websites, e.g., Google and Amazon, or even the tools offered by banking and credit card companies. Therefore, less technologically advanced tools offered by life insurers, while still a step forward, nevertheless run the risk of failing to meet consumer expectations. Unlike the early adopters of chat in other industries, life insurers are introducing chatbots to users that are now familiar with A.I. powered chatbots.

Melissa Dewindt of Gerber Life Insurance also sat on the panel and shed light on rising customer expectations for live chat tools, emphasizing the issue for carriers of providing 24-hour live representatives. According to Ms. Dewindt, “clearly communicating with customers” when there are no representatives available and being transparent about wait times were important steps towards improving customer satisfaction for these chat tools.

Corporate Insight’s recent deep-dive report on Chat Features exposes just how far behind life insurers have fallen in delivering helpful and efficient versions of these tools:

  • Only four of the 18 firms in Corporate Insight’s Life Insurance Monitor coverage group—Bestow, Haven Life, Lincoln Financial Group and Principal—offer both a live chat tool and an automated virtual assistant
    • Just three of these firms provide chat tools for both public site users and authenticated users
  • Virtual assistant tools from John Hancock, Nationwide, Principal and USAA can complete some type of action for the user or generate policy information

These screenshots show examples of chatbots from Nationwide and USAA

  • Live chat features available from behind the login answer more question types than virtual assistants

This chart shows the availability of certain answers from life insurance chatbots

Our life insurance research team looks forward to seeing how life insurers continue to improve their digital experiences across web and mobile.

Learn more about CI’s life insurance research services. And for more on the latest trends across the financial services industry, check out our Insights section.