‘Constant Connectivity’ is one of the defining characteristics of modern India, where rapid advancement in consumer technology, mobile connectivity and increased awareness have significantly altered the way we consume information or connect with each other.
The world around us has shrunk to a size we can fit in our pockets, where any update we want is merely a click or a message away.
The year 2011 can be termed as the year of the Smart Phone, with nearly 500 million devices being sold worldwide. India, accounting for approximately 12 per cent of worldwide sales, has emerged as an important market for device manufacturers.
As customers increasingly adopt Smart Phones, their reliance on these devices for various uses is increasing by the day. As the market matures, consumers would move from mere media consumption and social networking to delegating day to day tasks, and routine service requests to these devices. In this scenario, how organizations in various sectors adopt use of Smart Phones in their customer interaction would be interesting to watch.
The Indian insurance sector in particular has undergone significant changes where an increased focus on technology and customer centricity has become the key differentiator. With a number of competitors providing nearly identical products, it has become imperative to provide impeccable post sales service, and respond to customers’ requests and complaints in near real time terms. Technology provides tools for customer service on these lines.
In this context, examining the role of Online Insurance plans is also important. At the close of 2011, there were 10 odd insurance companies offering online insurance products catering specifically to the net savvy consumer. A review of the interfaces used for buying online insurance plans proves the fact that purchasing insurance, traditionally presumed to be a rather complex affair, can be made simple, fast and convenient. Taking this experience to the mobile handset is the natural next step.
Globally, many insurance providers have successfully used smart phone apps to build a positive brand experience for their consumers. Market research done globally by these companies has shown that insurance customers, who use emerging technologies such as smart phone applications, online chat, and email as complementary channels to interact with their insurance providers, are significantly more satisfied, than those using only their purchase channel to meet their service needs. Especially popular in the auto insurance segment, these apps (developed for iPhone and Android users) allow customers to get quotes, submit claims instantly and manage their policies from anywhere on the move.
According to a survey done by Google, the Indian smart phone market stood at 3 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up from 1.7 million units in the same period in 2010. The Google survey points out that 66 per cent of existing smart phone users believe they would access the Internet increasingly through their handhelds in the future.
With the advantage of technology now reaching the masses thanks to advent of 3G, and availability of smart devices for as little as Rs. 3000, the potential for marketers to tap into the mindset of the ‘do-it-yourself’ generation is immense.
With a host of products and services to choose from, even in the insurance segment specifically, what will matter more than the product itself is the brand experience that the consumer remembers. Instant updates, alerts, seamless flow of processes and finally, constant connect with the brand are aspects that can be brought in through mobile insurance going ahead.
In a scenario where the online insurance market is contributing significantly to the overall business and insurance as a sector is becoming highly IT dependent, the convergence of mobile technology to offer real time services to customers will be the next big step for insurance companies in India. Besides reducing operational costs and simplifying the user experience of purchasing insurance, mobile technology has the potential to help companies reach out to previously uncharted geographies thus helping a wider penetration of insurance.
[This guest post has been written by Mr. Gaurav Rajput, Director Marketing, Aviva India]