At a recent LIMRA conference the conversation focused on Big Data and how companies are beginning to realize the power of data analysis to help them know and better communicate with their customers.  With customers now increasingly in the drivers seat for selection of their benefits from public and private exchanges, insurance carriers, many for the first time must figure out how to talk directly to their customers in a way they never have had to before….

Carriers, brokers and benefits administration companies alike are coming to the realization that they need to know thier customers more intimately in order to offer them relevant products based on their life stages and communicate product value to them in language they can understand, using value statements that speak to their specific concerns.

Tackling this problem requires deep understanding of the customer and the key demographic and psychographic traits that drive their purchasing behavior.  The good news is that much of this data exists today in benefits administration systems – collected during the online enrollment process used by a growing number of employers.  But this data alone is not enough to provide the insights needed truly understand the customers’ needs, product relevance and most importantly propensity to purchase a particular product.  Additional customer information must be cross referenced in order to get accurate, actionalble data.

The next step in the journey to “know the customer” is the addition of third-party data, available from a number of sources.  Gathering the additional data can be done by internal marketing departments, but requires knowledgeable internal resources and a budget for data acquisition.  Another option is to outsource the data acquisition and analysis to a firm who can help distill the key factors of greatest value and importance to achieving your goals.  Another advantage to outsourcing this work is that analytics firms may have larger data sets to provide more statistically accurate results than are available from examination of internal data alone.

Either way, examining data to get better insights into your customer’s buying behaviors is the next big step in employee benefits and one that is likely to be the topic of many more conference discussions to come.