Insurance, The Millennial Perspective – Part 2

In Part 1, we covered why millennials aren’t investing in insurance, and ended on a few key questions: How can the industry get millennials to invest, and what do millennials want from insurance? This week, we’ll walk through the key elements that millennials look for in a business, and how the insurance industry can apply them to drive engagement, satisfaction, and investment.

From the outside, it seems impossible to peg down any particular pattern to what millennials want from a business. Their tastes seem to change faster than the weather, but in fact there are number of consistent features and traits that draw millennials towards a business.

1. Self-service

Far and away the most important of element when it comes to attracting and retaining millennial customers is the availability of a quality self-service solution. Despite what many say, millennials have a strong ‘do it yourself’ attitude, and like solving problems on their own time without outside interaction. By providing a self-service solution, organizations can capitalize on this attitude.

When offering self-service to millennials, the quality of the service is often more important than offering the service in the first place. It's far better to take the time needed to shore up functionality than it is to race to market with a sub-par product. A report by Harris Interactive found that 69% of customers will have an adverse reaction to a brand if the mobile app isn’t useful. This negativity isn’t just concentrated on the app, it affects the customer’s entire perception of a brand across all lines.

Many organizations that offer self-service attempt to supplement a lack of functionality with traditional systems like call centers or FAQ sections on their websites, which only leads to dissatisfied millennial customers. As a generation fixated on how it spends its time, nothing disengages millennials more than having to work within constrictive ‘business hours only’ timeframes, and substituting a lack of functionality with round-the-clock call centers is almost as bad. In fact, a report by found that more than a third of Millennials would rather get their teeth cleaned or go to the DMV than have to call a representative!

When it comes to successfully engaging millennials, implementing a quality self-service solution should be the number one goal of any organization. Self-service gives millennials the ability to solve their problems on their own time, it fits in with their tech-centric lifestyles, and it allows business workflows to be accelerated through collaboration.

2. Simple and effective UX

Millennials want their business interactions to be short, sweet, and effective. If an organization offers a mobile app (which it absolutely should), the app should be able to handle the majority of requests with just a few taps. In that same vein, online portals and dedicated websites should be uncluttered and easy to navigate- millennials will drop off the pipeline in droves if an organization’s website requires digging through dozens of clunky submenus, mandatory log-ins, and ‘forgot my password’ prompts.

In addition to simplicity, consistency should be at the forefront of development when an creating an ecosystem of offerings and solutions for millennials. From online portals to smartphone apps, it’s imperative that all customer-facing offerings look and function in similar ways, and that any updates made in one part of the ecosystem will be automatically applied to all others.

Millennials don’t want to get bogged down trying to find workarounds to a confusing ecosystem - they want a fast, responsive, and consistent user experience that they can trust. Being attuned to these needs, and making the modifications necessary to satisfy them is paramount to an organization’s success when attracting millennial customers.

3. Collaboration

One of the defining aspects of the millennial mindset is the desire to collaborate and engage with others. The success of companies like Airbnb and Uber is due to their development of specific workflows that align the goals of the business with the goals of the customer. When these goals line up, collaboration benefits both sides- increasing the success of the business and the satisfaction of the customer.

Empowering millennials to take part in the business process not only drives engagement, but also greatly-increases their satisfaction with the service. By becoming active participants in the workflow, millennials feel like they are able to help solve their own problems, in addition to increasing the success of the business. Alex Castellarnau, ex-head of Product Design at Dropbox put it best, saying: “[With millennials] a new brand, service or product is only started by the company; it’s finished by the customers. Millennials are a generation that wants to co-create the product, the brand, with you.”

This desire to benefit all parties through collaboration is a major facet of the millennial identity, and can be a tremendous boon to any organization able to take advantage of it. Collaboration increases the satisfaction of millennial customers, reduces many business expenses, and presents a compelling image of any organization that embraces it. .

4. Trust and Authenticity

Millennials put little trust in paid advertising or bold company claims. Earlier this year, Huffington Post reported that only around 1% of surveyed millennials said they were influenced by compelling ads. Instead of relying on traditional advertising and marketing, millennials prefer authentic and genuine connection with the brands that they engage with. According to millennials are far more likely to trust reviews by other users (especially friends and family), and will often spend a significant amount of time researching a product before making a purchase. Sifting through rating sites, customer responses, and YouTube reviews are now staples of the millennial purchasing behavior in everything from toilet paper to smartphones.

Arguably the most effective way to build this trust and develop a genuine connection with millennials is through an active social media presence. Property Casualty 360 writes that finding and engaging millennials requires organizations to fully-embrace technology, from running active social media accounts, to the creation and dissemination of easily-sharable content. By using social media to engage customers in a comprehensive and genuine way, organizations can turn their millennial customer base into what found to be “… the most loyal generation to their favorite brands.”

When interacting with millennials (especially on social media), it’s important for organizations to remain authentic in their outbound communications and marketing. By keeping overt advertising to a minimum and remaining genuine when interacting with customers, organizations can win over the loyalty of many millennial consumers. In his talk at this year’s Property Innovation Summit, entrepreneur (and millennial) Michael Parrish DuDell expanded on this, saying: "If you figure out how to win us over, if you figure out how to talk to us in a truly authentic way that we will listen to, this generation will stick with you."

However, it’s equally-important important to know that inauthentic communication can cause more damage than not communicating at all, as put by DuDell: "We know how to spot a faker. We know when you are being inauthentic. We know when you are being dishonest. And we turn off.” Making the right call can be difficult when communicating with customers, especially customers as fickle as millennials; but success here can make a world of difference.

The market is already responding to the lack of millennial-focused competition- insurance startups like Trov and Lemonade are making waves with their unique approaches to building engagement with millennial customers.

Trov offers customers the ability to enable and disable coverage on-the-fly for individual pieces of property like bikes, laptops, or TVs. As a flexible, collaborative, and self-service product, Trov hits all the right points when it comes building a millennial-focused brand. For millennials, the benefit that Trov offers over established carriers lies in its simplicity- all interactions, from underwriting to account management to FNOL, go through the Trov app. By wrapping a simple, well-targeted product in a slick, user-focused interface, Trov has built a product that perfectly-encapsulates a millennial-focused design, emphasizing customizability and control without sacrificing user experience.

Lemonade, on the other hand, takes a more traditional approach in its product, which focuses on offering barebones renter’s insurance for an incredibly-low price. Through its slick, app-based ecosystem, Lemonade marries a fast, simple signup with a minimal underwriting process that emphasizes quick decision making and low investment (as an example, after completing the 3-minute signup form I was informed that my monthly payment would be $5). By focusing its efforts on capturing millennials whose purchasing decisions are guided by ease-of-access and impulsivity, Lemonade is able to offer a traditional product to a non-traditional market.

There has been lots of talk about how the dollar-for-dollar value of Lemonade's insurance is poor, even at such a low price; but this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what a large number of millennials want when purchasing a product. For many, the biggest benefit a product can offer lies in the simplicity of its purchase- this is why millennials will often spend hundreds of dollars to get Apple Care for their new iPhones, despite the fact that Apple Care is a terrible deal compared to other forms of small-loss insurance. The premium is justified by the satisfaction gained by not having to invest any extra time or effort into the purchase.

It’s worth noting that Millennials are split on this mindset- many devote themselves to optimizing their purchases by doing an enormous amount of research to find the perfect product; while others are fully-aware that they can find better deals if they looked, but choose to pay a premium for the convenience of not having to.

The takeaway for the industry is that organizations must target their products at either end of this spectrum. Whether that means following the Trov route by offering in-depth control over the end product; or if it means aping Lemonade by offering ease-of-purchase at a premium.

Regardless of which path is taken, the success of a product will be driven by the key elements discussed above. You’ll notice that, despite the differences in their approach, both Trov and Lemonade offer slick, attractive, and user-friendly experiences, and put strong emphasis on self-service, collaboration, and quick turnaround time. All of these elements are fundamental in developing a successful product for the millennial market.

When it comes to attracting and retaining millennial customers, insurance still has a long way to go. Adapting to the needs of this new generation will necessitate a major paradigm shift in the coming years. However, by taking the first steps sooner rather than later, the industry can and will find tremendous value in the millennial demographic.

Insurance exists in an open market- rivals are always at the door, and the tooth-and-nail, red ocean competition that drives the industry will continue apace. The organizations that want to survive the coming shift will have to change with the times; but for those that want to thrive, that adaptation must begin as soon as they are able.

The writing is on the wall, change is inevitable. So ask yourself: Where do you think the industry leaders of tomorrow will focus?

I’ll give you a hint.
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