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How “business as usual” communications can deliver profitable new sales and boost customer retention for insurance companies around the world

How “business as usual” communications can deliver profitable new sales and boost customer retention for insurance companies around the world

Since 2005, Riverside has developed and implemented successful customer communication programmes – working with dozens of insurance companies on 5 different continents.

These programmes deliver targeted and fully personalised upgrade and cross-sell offers to the insurer’s existing customers.  They consistently build new sales and boost retention rates on existing products held – profitably and fully measurably.

Over the years, we’ve built a robust approach that includes best, fully tested practice in three essential areas:

  • Customer data analytics, to select the most appropriate customers for communication.
  • Offer development, to identify the best targeted upgrade or cross-sell offer for each individual customer (using the insurer’s existing product range).
  • Communication implementation, to maximise the uptake of the targeted offer and deliver a significant and measurable uplift in customer retention on existing products held.

We’d be delighted to tell you more about any of these three areas in detail.  However, in this white paper, we’re focusing principally on the third area:  communication implementation.

Your key decisions for implementing profitable customer communications – and why they’re easy to make

 Once you’ve selected the customers you want to talk to and the offers you want to make to them, you need to decide how to present and deliver the communication – the communication channel or channels to use and the creative approach to adopt.

Nowadays, these decisions can seem challenging and complex – because there’s such a wide range of channels available – including email, SMS, messaging and mobile apps.

Then there’s the creative approach.  What style of imagery should you use?  How much interactivity?  Should you include video content?

In our experience, based on years of testing with detailed, measurable results – the answers to these questions are very straightforward…

Choose the channels and messaging styles that your customers are used to receiving from you in your “business as usual” communications – such as policy information, renewal notices and other service and administrative messaging.

When an existing customer receives a communication from their insurer, they’re highly likely to read what it says – at the very least in outline.  This is because their insurance is valuable to them – even if not always particularly exciting.

And if the communication looks like an official policy-related message, they know that it relates to them individually and that it’s likely to contain information that’s important.

That’s why we’ve found that communications that “look and feel” like individual messages  from a Customer Service department deliver much better results than colourful, “glossy” productions that are apparently developed by Marketing!

Of course, the communications we produce – including the choice of words used – are based on sophisticated marketing principles that we’ve developed through extensive testing over the years.  But the overall impression on the customer is: Service not Marketing.

Communication that feels natural and as expected

More and more of the insurance companies we work with have now introduced digital channels for their administrative communications. Wherever that is the case, we also use the full range of those channels for the programmes we develop.

But the reality is that many insurers in most countries still use more traditional channels for their policy-related customer communications –  in particular, printed mail and telephone. Some even still make use of face-to-face agents to deliver these messages.

And that’s why, with those companies, we choose those channels too.

We also take time to study the insurer’s existing service communications to understand their typical use of language, branding and overall “tone of voice”.  This helps to ensure that the offer messages we create are fully compatible and integrated with the established style.

How “business as usual” communications can deliver profitable new sales and boost customer retention for insurance companies around the world

Usually, the channels and style used by our insurance partners are well suited to the existing customer bases they serve.  Some of the life insurers we work with, for example, have cohorts of older customers, who have held policies with them for many years.  When they originally bought those policies, the documents were hand delivered by their agent and further policy information has arrived through the post ever since.

Some of these people still don’t even have an email address or computer of their own, and positively enjoy receiving personal letters delivered by the postman. They’re also very happy to reply in writing, by completing forms provided and sending them back using the local post box.

And in those cases where printed mail is the channel used by the insurance company, it can still deliver successful upgrade and cross-sell results from customers who are digitally active – whatever their age.

In fact, customers who spend hours every day in a digital environment often welcome the opportunity to engage with other channels…

In a recent survey led by Royal Mail*, 77% of 18-34 year-olds said they engage positively with messages by physical mail, compared with 67% for email.

Combining different channels can deliver best results

Using more than one channel can often improve results significantly.

Printed mail with a telephone follow-up has long been a very successful combination.  And this still works well today, provided the insurer uses those channels for everyday service.

What’s more, as companies expand the number of channels their customers give permission to use, we add those new channels into the mix – carefully measuring the incremental business generated.   Email, especially, now often features in the programmes we run.

We can also integrate printed and digital communications.  For example, we can include QR codes with offers sent by printed mail.  When a customer wants to accept the personalised offer, he or she can scan the code to open a landing page to complete the application digitally.

And talking of results…

The Riverside approach, including the “business as usual” communication style, consistently delivers results that delight the insurance companies we work with.

For Life insurers, our programmes typically:

  • convert additional insurance sales (upgrades and cross sales) to 10%-30% of all customers included.
  • reduce lapse rates on existing policies held by 12%-30% over the following 12 months. And this applies to all customers included in the programme – not just those who accept the offer.
  • deliver additional commission income and sales opportunities to agents and other intermediaries – boosting their loyalty to the insurer as a result.

At Riverside, we also share in the costs of every communication programme we run with any insurer.

This means we can only be successful if you’re successful too – and we’ll never propose any activity that we don’t expect to deliver, based on our experience.

Find out more.  There’s no obligation.

For an informal discussion, simply contact Bill Gilbert at Riverside: ; +31 6 5047 9647.

We’ll tell you honestly if and how we think the Riverside approach could benefit you.  We’ll also explain how we could provide you with a detailed and insightful analysis of your existing customer base before you are under any obligation to continue or commit to any expenditure.

We’d be delighted to hear from you.

* Royal Mail Marketreach/Trinity McQueen, July 2021