Social Media’s Impact on Customer Relations

Last week I attended KPMG’s 20th Annual Insurance Issues Conference and one of the opening speakers was Dr. Cindy Gordon who is the Founder of Helix Commerce International Inc., a company specializing in business innovation, collaboration commerce, and social media. I was amazing listening to her speak about not only where the insurance industry might be headed but the role that technology will play in terms of dealing with customers and how companies will need to adapt to the constantly changing environment.

Speaking to a room full of several hundred industry professionals, she discussed the need for the industry to step up its game in the field of social media. She mentioned how the banks have much deeper pockets, it is a smaller risk to invest into new ideas compared to insurance companies but indicated that social media isn’t a very expensive route for companies to invest in. When she asked the room how many people used Twitter on a daily basis, only one other person besides me, raised their hand. When asked about who knows of/uses Foursquare, this time it was only me. It drove home her point of how the insurance industry is now lagging behind the times of the new wave of customers who interact, research and make decisions — all online.

Just think about it: most of us do our banking transactions online, pay our bills and transfer money between accounts all from the comforts of our own computer. In terms of getting an insurance quote whether it be life, auto or for your home, we may do some research online but ultimately when it comes do to making a final decision, we still have to pick up the phone to directly talk to someone to complete the transaction.

Overall it was a pretty good conference to learning more about Solvency II, Risk Management and M&A Deals but ultimately it was the least finance intensive session showing the greatest potential for the industry for me.

Amazon Prime Is Worth It.

As many of you might have heard, my home was struck by lightning during the course of the major storm in the middle of last week. Although there was no significant damage to the structure of the building, there was a significant damage to the Central AC unit, several electronics such as two computers, a modem and a router. Throughout all the chaos, there was no damage to any major appliance such as a refrigerator, freezer or the television set – as well as any of the people present inside at the time of the strike.

Although I would suspect these things are probably covered by insurance, I doubt the damage is significant enough to warrant the near $500 deductible that usually comes with such claims. I went to my local Staples to pick up a power supply for a computer and a network adapter for another, a motherboard from NewEgg but throughout this past week I gained much needed appreciation for Amazon Prime and what it does.

Even though it comes with a $79 annual membership fee, that cost can be easily recouped if you are in need of items immediately. For those unfamiliar, Amazon Prime gives you an “all-you-can-eat” fast shipping for eligible purchases. Members will enjoy the following benefits:

Fast Delivery

  • Free Two-Day Shipping on more than one million in-stock items sold by
  • Upgrades to One-Day (Overnight) Shipping for just $3.99 per item.
  • Free Standard Shipping for eligible items shipped to P.O. boxes in the continental United States and APO/FPO addresses with U.S. zip codes.

Simple Shopping

  • No minimum purchases required.
  • Members-only 1-Click buttons on product pages.

Convenient Sharing

  • Shared benefits with up to four family members living in the same household.
  • For your corporate account use, you can add up to 4 co-workers to your account.

Even though I don’t have Amazon Prime yet, a friend of mine does who ordered the items for me. I placed a D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Wireless Router on Wednesday and Belkin 12-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector on Thursday – both of which arrived on Friday. It can be quite unsettling to live without access to wireless internet especially in an age where you are almost dependent on such access all the time.

There is nothing quite like the convenience of two-day shipping (and possibly 1 if you order gets lucky) especially with a competitive price that Amazon offers which is hardly beaten by competitors. So if you haven’t tried yet with your account, probably offers a free month of Amazon Prime – you can simply cancel before your month is over and not be charged. If you like it (and how can you not?), pay the fee and become a member. Although I must warn you, it can become quite a hazard to your monthly credit card statement if you order any- and every-thing you like on Amazon.