Is there any industry a passionate entrepreneur can’t improve and enhance by elevating the customer experience? The answer is clearly no. Economics For Business talks to Jeff Arnold, who finds insurance fun, exciting, and a source of inspiration, and who is advancing profitably towards the new future he’s imagining, where buying insurance is so enjoyable that customers will stop shopping on price and clamor for the new experience he is designing.
Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights
Passionate, creative entrepreneurs can deliver profitable innovation to any industry, no matter how static and rigid it may seem.
Jeff Arnold loves insurance. He told us he finds it fun, awesome, and exciting. Studying the intricacies of contractually trading and transferring risk for payment generated a lifetime interest and passion in him. He’s turned that passion into revenue and profit by delivering new value to customers in aspect of their life or their business that is extremely important to them.
As a good Austrian, Jeff Arnold views his industry first from the customer’s perspective.
Customer-first. That’s the Austrian way of business. When Jeff thinks about insurance, he thinks from the consumers’ perspective. They pay hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime for insurance of many kinds: house, automobile, business, medical care, and more. Do they know exactly what they are buying — or, perhaps more importantly, not buying because of exclusions buried deep in the small type of the appendices to an insurance policy agreement? How do they feel about the customer interface, including call center phone trees and hard-to-decipher policy documents?
From this perspective, he is able to develop design principles for an insurance business with a better customer experience:
- Help customers to think about a systematic lifetime plan for all their insurances;
- Help them develop the knowledge required to properly understand insurance offers and alternative policies;
- Give them the opportunity to customize insurance products for their needs as opposed to buying a commoditized vanilla product;
- Help them to get the exchange value from the purchase that is right for them.
- Give them an interpersonal experience that’s much better than the industry norm.
Jeff focuses his customers on value, not price.
Most often, buyers approach an insurance purchase with a transactional frame of mind: how can I pay the lowest price. They’ll shop around to find it. Jeff wants to put an end to “price shopping”, to be replaced with a value calculation: what coverage do I need, how did I get it, and who is the best provider?
The value calculation often entails discovering and eliminating exclusions — coverages that are excluded in the fine print of the contract. These exclusions occur in home insurance (which is especially hard to read and understand) auto insurance (there are 12-14 exclusions to look for according to Jeff) and commercial or business insurance (where many coverages are automatically excluded and must be built back in item by item, with careful attention to detail).
The value solution lies in the integration of technology and personal service.
Jeff’s latest business, RightSure, aims to get individuals the right insurance by using A.I. in combination with “famously friendly humans”, i.e., staff carefully selected and trained to deliver knowledge and service in an amenable way. The A.I. can provide a preliminary phone interface, a chatbot interface on the website, and can do an excellent job of matching customer needs to the right policies. Famously friendly people can patiently explain all the policy options, point out what’s covered and what’s excluded, answer customer questions, and help them to make informed decisions. They’re good at listening, exhibit high empathy, and can help customers navigate from suspicion to trust.
The combination of A.I. and famously friendly humans delivers a superior customer experience while also achieving high levels of efficiency. The return on investment in human capital is as high as the return on technology capital. The combination generates brand uniqueness.
Jeff represents entrepreneurship in action in the insurance industry.
Jeff Arnold is a quintessential entrepreneur. He’s driven by a passion for his industry, where he spent a career in multiple roles before launching his current business. He gathered knowledge he learned from others and from his own experience in those various roles. He innovates by having a more highly developed customer focus than others, and commits to a better experience for his customers than they can expect elsewhere. And he knows how to combine and recombine assets and resources in new ways to deliver that better experience. He continuously monitors the customer experience and customer sentiment to keep improving.
His primary skill are empathy and imagination — understanding the experience customers prefer and designing it in his mind before bringing it to life. He doesn’t need technology expertise to bring his vision to life; he can buy that on the market. It is the human factors of empathy and imagination that lie behind his superior product.
Imagining the future drives product and service innovation.
After a lifetime in the insurance industry and informed by hundreds and thousands of conversations with consumers, Jeff can accurately identify current dissatisfactions and easily imagine future products and services to address some of those satisfactions. Some of the ones he mentioned in our conversation were:
The macro policy: Why do customers have to buy home and auto and business and medical insurance I separate policies and separate transactions. What if there could be one macro policy for a family, adjustable to new needs as life goes on yet still a “one policy” solution for managing all the risks a family faces?
Expanding liability coverage: It seems like lawmakers and courts are continuously finding new things the rest of us are guilty of, like saying bad things on social media. Liabilities are expanding — Jeff called it social inflation. What if our policies could keep up without us having to adjust them in new transactions?
New payment systems: What if we bought automobile insurance by the mile instead of in a lump? Or what if we got refunds based on good driving habits (which is beginning to happen with telematics)? Generally, the payment system of lump sums for coverage over a time period can be replaced by behavioral measures of consumption.
These are the kinds of innovation Jeff is imagining, and working hard on bringing to market. Entrepreneurs make the world a better place.
Jeff Arnold’s author page on Amazon.com: Mises.org/E4B_169_Author
Jeff’s website, Ambassador For The Insurance Industry: JeffArnold.com
The Art Of The Insurance Deal by Jeff Arnold: Mises.org/E4B_169_Book