Going EAST for guidance

Improving ‘customer intimacy’ is a core objective in many insurers’ strategy these days.
We discussed this at our recent client event. It is a lofty goal, of course, but many of the insurer participants felt that as an industry we are, unfortunately, still a long way from achieving this goal.
Despite having mountains of risk data on their customers, insurers are not in a position to really know their customers as well as, say, banks.
We explored this further with the help of the Behaviour Change People.  They are a specialist consultancy with roots in the UK Government’s Behavioural Insights Team (aka the ‘nudge unit’).
Together we tried to judge typical customer engagement activity at insurers against the four aspects in the so-called EAST framework for behavioural impact.

EAST framework

The framework says that to create an impact you need to make your offering:

  • Easy. There needs to be a low ‘hassle factor’ for taking up a service. Messages need to be simple;
  • Attractive. Attention needs to be drawn to key messages and calls to action need to be appealing;
  • Social. Since we are social animals, showing that others had the desired behaviour makes a big difference.  Encouraging people to make a commitment to others does as well; and
  • Timely.  Logically, we need to prompt customers when they are likely to be most receptive.
None of this is rocket science, but there is a lot more interesting thought and detail behind these four simple principles. It also became clear why some of the participants thought that the industry didn’t always measure up well against these criteria:
  • Insurers probably don’t do too badly on the social aspect. Appealing to emotions and pointing out the need to look after your loved ones is a core message;
  • Timely messaging is a real challenge. Spotting and reacting to customers life events is more of an ambition than a reality at the moment; and
  • Product literature has improved from a low base, but there is still more work to be done to make this and commercial marketing communications ‘easy’ and ‘attractive’.

Getting the basics right

Improving communications is often a quick win and something that Behaviour Change People has significant experience in helping companies with across a number of industries. It is clear that there are some basic ‘tricks’ that can be applied to get key messages across more effectively using behavioural science.

Timely messaging should become easier now that insurers have invested significantly in CRM systems and data sources are more connected. Unfortunately, many of these CRM systems are still under-used. Product and customer events are recorded, but not necessarily analysed or acted upon in a structured way.

On the upside, participants felt that these are not difficult things to fix.  Even if true customer intimacy will remain out of reach for a while, just getting some of the basics of the EAST framework right would be a positive first step.