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3 Ways Big Tech Supercharges Customer Engagement (That Insurers Should Copy)

It’s the age of instant gratification and consumers have been conditioned to constantly demand more.

It’s the age of instant gratification and consumers have been conditioned to constantly demand more. Want a book to read tonight? Amazon and the Kindle app, done. Want a pizza delivered? DoorDash, done. Want to get your bills paid without paying postage? Literally any banking app, done. Need new insurance coverage? Depends on the type of coverage, and the company you choose, and so many other things.

During the height of the pandemic shutdowns, Amazon thrived while other businesses struggled. Why? It’s not as easy as it looks to take typically offline processes and replicate them online. Insurance companies in particular sent employees in to receive mail, process paper check payments, and became best friends with Best Buy as newly remote employees needed laptops and printers just to maintain the semblance of business as usual.

The reality of today’s “new normal” is that the expectation baseline has shifted upward, and insurers who were simply meeting, and not exceeding, it before are now targets for merger and acquisition (M&A) or in danger of potential insolvency. Part of meeting (and exceeding) the expectation baseline, is using engagement techniques to create a positive customer experience, and Amazon is the OG of engagement and experience. So, why should insurers not take a page from the Amazon engagement playbook?

The upshot of engaging customers is the endless talk track on social media about positive experiences with brands. If the engagement and experience are good, it’s basically free advertising. If the engagement and experience are bad, it can spell brand suicide. Today it’s as natural for customers to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly at BBQs as it is in social media posts or emails to professional friends and colleagues.

In today’s real-time environment, where information is shared nearly instantaneously across channels and industries, the key is to not give customers a reason to share bad news. This is especially challenging for insurance organizations since the industry is already handicapped by a reputation for making money at the expense of others, of unfairly denying claims, and of homogenizing difficult personal experiences with generic products and risk pools.

For insurers doubling down on customer engagement, the first step is to start treating policyholders as people, rather than a policy number. Creating transparency related to the processing and status of a claim, for example, keeps communication lines open and further builds trust in the insurer-policyholder relationship. Technology can help.

Amazon, for example, uses technology to help seek out and develop opportunities for engagement as a way of increasing customer loyalty, effectively replacing reactivity with proactivity in demonstrating customer care. In addition to sourcing and implementing the right technology, there are three top techniques Amazon employs in engaging customers, including personalization of communication, products, and services, providing robust digital channels for self-service, and using analytics to gain insights and promote transparency as a way of getting to know customers better. If imitation is truly the most sincere form of flattery, then insurers should start copying Amazon’s strategy on an ASAP basis.


First things first, insurers must do a better job of personalizing the customer experience. Insurers are notorious for letting the monthly bill lead the way into customer communication and engagement. Way to make a customer feel valued, right? A customer portal ensures the delivery of bespoke information to a specific policyholder. It’s not a mass email that starts out “Dear [First Name].” An insurer customer portals can not only enable policyholders to customize planned interactions, including communication preferences, it can also be a place where insurers recommend increases in existing coverage, new products which would complement the customer’s existing portfolio, and suggest ways of proactively mitigating risk.


If you decide to shop on Amazon one of the first things to notice is that everything is self-service and available on a 24x7x365 basis. One might be tempted to think that providing self-service capabilities AND working hard to create opportunities for actual customer engagement are counterintuitive. But, when thinking about customer engagement as part of an overall customer experience package, self-service makes total sense. Customers today want the ability to manage insurance policies easily without having to call into a customer service center to do it. That means making as many processes available for self-service as possible, including printing insurance cards or dec pages, paying premiums, providing first notice of loss (FNOL), or even checking the status of a claim. And, all of those self-service processes must be executable on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

Customer Intelligence

Finally, think about how much Amazon knows about you. What you bought, when you bought it, where you live, what you watch on tv, and much, much more is available to Amazon in an instant. Insurers could benefit from using analytics integrated with an existing core administration system or implemented as part of a digital transformation initiative to help identify trends within a specific customer segment or opportunities for cross-sell and upsell. Analytics has the potential to make a significant difference in creating customer engagement because customers who feel “seen” and understood by an insurance provider are more willing to invest in a relationship which goes beyond a simple transaction. These kinds of insights are important because even when transactions are conducted efficiently, if the interactions are not transparent, personalized, and targeted, the value of the engagement is lost.

Pulling it all Together

Just like Amazon, insurance companies already have the data necessary to inform a meaningful, modern customer experience, right now most of them just fail to pull it all together. Using technology to tap into it can mean the difference between success and losing customers to other companies that can provide modern online tools to engage with customers. There isn’t time to wait for the core system to “catch up.” Insurers have to take control of the experience with mobile-first, and omni-channel enabled technology platforms.

The path to good customer experience is through engagement. So, if you are still asking yourself if customer engagement really matters in the age of Amazon, the answer is, “Absolutely, and even more than ever.” Customer experience and customer engagement go hand-in-hand. One doesn’t exist without the other. Plus, if an insurer can gain a customer’s loyalty, and encourage the sharing of positive experiences with others, customer acquisition cost decreases dramatically.


Steve Johnson is the co-founder and head of product at He can be reached for further information or comment via email at