It wasn’t always like this
My 5th grade daughter saw a phonebooth in person for the first time the other day.
We were attending a skating party at our local rink when she noticed a rather forlorn looking pay phone sitting against a wall in the parking lot. I glanced over it without really seeing it, but for her it became one of the highlights of our visit. She’s never seen one in person, and the archaic communication device was quite the novelty item for her.
It’s easy to forget how things used to be before the advent of the smart device and Apple’s revolutionary iPhone, even for those of us who came of age before the mobile revolution.
The handheld computers we carry with us have become so ubiquitous and have impacted our daily lives in an utterly pervasive way. iPhone and Android devices have rewritten the internet, the recording industry, the film industry, retail shopping, and all aspects of interpersonal communication.
Supporting a great mobile experience is no longer a point of differentiation for businesses, it’s mandatory. Furthermore, all trends indicate that people want to make increasingly complex purchases the same way they buy apps, music, transportation, or take-out.
It’s a wireless world and the mobile revolution in insurance and benefits has arrived. Get ready for Insurance Untethered.
The Great Untethering My phone does it all
It’s easy to overlook the fact that the very first iPhone wasn’t connected to an app store. It came with a small set of functionalities, and you’d get a few more functionalities with every software update.
The App Store and the Developer Kit were later additions, but the incorporation of third-party developers turned Apple into one of the most successful technology platforms (LINK) in history and unlocked the device’s full potential.
Another seminal event was when Apple realized (around version 4) that people wanted to use their iPhones without syncing them to a computer. This “untethering” of the phones let people enjoy the full functionality of the phone without being tied to an expensive computer or laptop. The devices became more accessible and, as a result, more ubiquitous, increasing the pace of technological advancement.
The untethering of Apple and Android devices was anticipated, unglamorous, and therefore un-surprising and under-reported, but its impact has had an enormous effect on all technology industries and users. Quite simply, untethering took iPhones and Androids from being extensions of our PCs and turned them into freestanding, do-it-all extensions of us and our daily life. They usurped the laptop as the paragon of mobile accessibility and eclipsed all other IoT (Internet of Things) personal digital devices.
The dominant attitude quickly became: My phone does it all.
We’ll spend more time on how this directly relates to insurance and benefits sales and product adoption in a little bit, but I think it is worth taking a look at why the mobile world works so well
The wireless world and why it works
There are very logical reasons why mobile devices and eShopping are continually rewriting how we conduct business and, unsurprisingly, they are rooted in consumer choice principles and best business practices.
Mobile and wireless businesses succeed because they hit the sweet spot of the three major buying considerations: Cost, Convenience, and Quality.
(Cost, Convenience, and Quality is one of our guiding design and marketing mantras here at Genius Avenue, and I could go on and on, but I’ll try to keep this short.)
Every consumer choice will be influenced by these three factors, and they form the basis of most buying decisions and negotiations. Consider the interplay of these three traits in your own purchasing decisions.
If Cost isn’t an issue then the focus, and deciding factors, become Quality and Convenience. Comparably, if Cost is the biggest concern, Convenience and Quality take a backseat. By way of comparison, if Convenience is the most vital factor, you may be willing to incur higher Costs or lower Quality.
Take a few minutes and think about it. I challenge you to think of a single buying decision, in excess of $50, in which Cost, Convenience, and Quality aren’t a factor. It’s not easy.
The wireless, mobile world works because it allows every consumer to find the sweet spot between Cost, Convenience, and Quality.
The best platform and distribution models make price shopping, quality comparison, and convenience ridiculously easy. One could even argue that Amazon’s in-depth consumer ratings and same-day shipping had a greater impact on retail buying than their aggressive pricing. What isn’t questionable is that those reviews created a new norm for consumer decision making.
People love wireless, untethered shopping because it empowers them with (our other Genius Avenue mantra) Choice and Control. Consumers love the Choice and Control online shopping provides because they can easily navigate and find the perfect balance between Cost, Convenience, and Quality. You have the perfect tool to find the right balance with EVERY purchase, conveniently in your pocket, no matter where you are, at any time of day. It’s consumer empowerment at its finest.
If you want to own new music you click an app, look up an artist, check the album rankings, and decide if it is worth $9.99. If I’m looking at purchasing a computer I can pull up specs, read real consumer ratings, compare prices, and decide if that new Chromebook merits ground or overnight shipping without leaving my couch. I don’t even need to go to my desk or pull out a credit card. My phone does it all.
I don’t want to lose the critical point here; giving people Choice and Control drives transactions and helps establish a long-term relationship with the vendor, increasing lifetime customer value.
We’ll focus more on the critical interplay of these five factors in future blogs, but for now let’s agree that the mobile world has redefined how people make increasingly complex purchases and that the “My phone does it all” attitude is not going away.
The Untethering of Insurance How it used to work
My first real insurance or benefit shopping experience involved me driving across town to meet an agent, the one recommended by my father. We sat in his modestly appointed office, in a typical block of business suites and discussed home, life, and auto coverage. The meeting took about two hours and I left with the various policies after giving him a voided check to arrange automatic withdrawals.
There was no comparison of rates or payment options, because they were dictated by my age and coverage levels. There was no discussion about quality of coverage, that was assumed based on the name of the company he worked for. It was just a necessary purchase that I made as conveniently as possible.
This is usually where someone will opine about “simpler times,” but that would be a lie.
The experience was annoying. As a consumer, I was not empowered or excited about the coverage and I did not maintain a relationship with that agent, or his carrier, beyond 24 months. I had very little Choice and less Control.
Sounds familiar, right?
How it is changing
Experiences like the one I related above still occur, but they are becoming as novel, and as dated, as a payphone at a roller rink.
Geico proved that insurers could maintain consumer mind-space through direct marketing, although most people who remember that bombastic gecko never owned a policy. Progressive built upon similar marketing momentum, but shifted the focus to Cost and Convenience as the deciding factors. Lemonade demonstrates that Cost and Convenience could be more important than Quality to a new generation of online shoppers.
They, and many others, have pulled insurance out of the typical office complex and put it firmly on the computer screen, where it has remained.
We’ve already seen the massive impact of the mobile revolution on insurance and benefits. Haptics, wearables, and mobile IoT monitoring are moving from Fringe Technologies to Key Differentiators faster than most veteran companies can process. We are learning that video, SMS, and other direct to consumer mobile communications can drive enrollment by improving understanding Choice and Control, but the full impact of the mobile revolution is still not fully realized.
Well, quite simply, the difficult enrollment process inherent in insurance sales was too complex to make a true mobile shopping experience realistic or enjoyable. The User Experience on the small screen just couldn’t keep up with the computer.
All of this is changing.
Genius Avenue is taking insurance and benefits and cutting them loose from the desktop and laptop. How? It’s actually pretty simple… innovation and technology plus Choice and Control.
The untethering is here.
We’re excited to empower consumers with Choice, Control, and Convenience and drive product adoption.