Social media has changed the way we connect with customers. Stewart McEwan looks at what this means for insurers.

The rules have changed when it comes to customer service. With social media and an always-connected world, it’s less a question of if insurance providers should engage with conversations about them, and more about how to respond, with brand reputations at stake.

Connectivity and social media have fundamentally transformed the way people learn about brands, form opinions and provide feedback. Digitisation has empowered individuals to challenge brands in new ways, with the power of word-of-mouth made large so that the ‘truth’ is now set by the customer.

Take a second to consider how you, too, have become part of this change. When you purchase an item on Amazon or decide to organise your holiday by looking on TripAdvisor, have your decisions not been moulded by the ‘star ratings’, personal reviews and recommendations of strangers?

It is within this context that insurers need to get to grips with not only where their brand is being talked about, but how to respond in nuanced and personable ways to:

  • extinguish negative stories
  • ‘hug your haters’
  • win over ‘undecideds’.

While improving on this front, the insurance industry has a long way to go. As identified by players in other industries, social media management platforms are now essential tools for business. While by no means a full reflection of all reviews and perceptions online, let’s take a look at what – an online review community – has to say about insurers.

Below is a view of the ‘scores’ out of 10 attributed to a selection of providers that often fall within the top 20 brands for either car, home, travel, or pet insurance within GlobalData’s Consumer Insurance Surveys. A few stand out for performance – for example, Saga accounts for not only an average score of 8.3, but also (perhaps interrelated) provided a response to all of the last 10 comments on its Trustpilot page. However, a majority of insurers fall far short of even approaching an average score, and are doing little to respond to this trial-by-social-network.

Trustpilot graph

There is little safety in the fact that this is a widespread industry issue, not a reason to hide among peers performing at the same level. All this does is amplify a broader, negative perception of ‘traditional’ insurers in the minds of consumers. It widens the opportunity for outside players that have forged reputations in other areas such as tech and retail, or even to new insurance propositions that – no coincidence – more often than not explicitly point to being different to the ‘old’ model, or are ‘insurance 2.0’.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission from GlobalData Financials. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by studiostoks,

About the author

Stewart McEwan

Stewart McEwan is head of content at GlobalData, specialising in UK general insurance. He is particularly interested in the new challenges the market faces in an online 'big data' world and growth in the innovative ideas, approaches, and disruptive players that are setting the pace in the industry.

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