The Risk & Reward of the Empowered Customer

0 September 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm by

Risk and Reward of the Empowered CustomerThe so-called “age of the customer” we live in is driven by several factors, especially technologies such as smartphones and mobile apps that put more control and choice into customers’ hands than ever before. Forrester Research has dubbed this phenomenon the Empowered Customer, and understanding it well may give the broker channel a strategic advantage.

In Canada and the US, the Empowered Customer breaks down into a few categories:

Types of Empowered Customers

While Forrester breaks customer down into five groups, it is easier to read them as three instead: the technologically adventurous (Progressive Pioneers and Savvy Seekers), the followers (Convenience Conformers), and the technologically conservative (Settled Survivors and Reserved Resistors). Viewed this way, the three consumer types each make up roughly one-third of the market – over two-thirds of which (67%) will rapidly come to expect new technologies. In comparison, only 33% will resist and continue to prefer antiquated methods.

In my own experience, this consumer split is illustrated by Apple Pay, which debuted in Canada this past spring. At first, only the most technologically savvy shoppers were tapping credit card readers with their watches and phones, usually to the amazement of cashiers. Now, I see payment by mobile device much more often, and cashiers take it in stride. I have even overheard conversations where individuals complain about stores that don’t offer the convenience of Apple Pay and try to shop at stores that do.

All of which is to say that, when regarding the Empowered Customer, the broker channel would do well to service the Progressive Pioneers and Savvy Seekers as much as possible. While they make up only 15% and 17% of consumers individually, they are a strong indicator of what the single largest group – Convenience Conformers, at 35% – will do next. Ignore the technologically savvy, and we run the risk of ignoring over two-thirds of the consumers we serve today.

Parting Thoughts

There are technologies that the broker channel can take advantage of now – eSignatures, eDocs, Mobile Websites, Search Engine Optimization, eDelivery – that are generally well known. It is essential, however, for our industry to fully understand the impact that those technologies (or the lack thereof) can have on the consumer experience.

Brokers can learn much by periodically attempting to research and purchase various types of insurance, gauging the experience as they go and noting strengths and opportunities for improvement in their company’s service offering. One excellent resource on this topic is the Ontario Broker article “Buying Tenant Insurance in the Broker Channel”, written by a CSIO employee (and self-described Savvy Seeker) detailing his efforts to purchase needed insurance when moving into a new apartment.

The Empowered Customer is here – is our industry ready?



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