Recently, our friend Denise Garth from SMA posted a blog on a ‘game-changing’ announcement: AXA France and Facebook entering into a strategic partnership. This post has quickly made the rounds and caused the count of exclamation marks in emails and tweets to increase geometrically, as other insurers try to absorb the implications of a global insurer working so closely with the 500-kilo gorilla of social media.
With all due respect, we’d like to suggest that this should not surprise anyone who follows the progression of digital in insurance generally and AXA specifically. The Facebook agreement is another element in continuing progress that a few insurers, including AXA, are making to integrate fully with the digital world. In so doing, these insurers are steadily transforming how they do business, and, in some instances, transforming the business itself.
We’d like your thoughts on this announcement and what it means for us all.
What is in and out of the AXA-Facebook partnership?
First, we need to note that the exact dimensions of AXA’s partnership with Facebook are not clear. AXA’s release says that the insurer will access “dedicated Facebook resources, notably including innovation & analytics teams to help in further developing its brand presence on Facebook, particularly on mobile”. In addition, Facebook will “analyze the impact of AXA’s communication campaigns on this social network, and its experts will train AXA’s marketing and digital teams.”
According to Hugh Terry, editor of The Digital Insurer and a Director of Insight Consulting, there are some caveats and known unknowns. Blogging on The Digital Insurer, Terry goes beyond the hype, noting:
- It is not an exclusive arrangement – just the first “international insurer”. Perhaps US insurers have similar tie-ups already?
- It is not a distribution arrangement – Facebook are not tying up with AXA to sell insurance
- It looks like a commercial arrangement whereby AXA pays to access the skills and knowledge of Facebook analytics and innovation experts in the mobile field. The size of that team is not disclosed
- It appears to be centred on France – as the Facebook quote is from the CEO of Facebook in France. Tellingly there is no Facebook press release
That said, this should not be seen as busienss as usual.
AXA has been an active digital citizen…
AXA is no stranger to digital activities.
In a 2013 video, AXA France CEO, Nicolas Moreau describes how they have used SalesForce.com to transform they way they connect with customers and prospects across a variety of channels. “Today, people expect direct access to their insurance provider, moving from a linear, intermediated relationship to a harmonious, connected conversation involving the company, customer, and agency,” Moreau said.
In addition, AXA France has leveraged its social network skills to create a community of small business owners, which “allows them to interact with each other and with insurance specialists, sharing content, advice, and answers to each other’s questions, ” Moreau notes.
Moreau says the the value for AXA France is that it “promotes our brand, builds customer loyalty, and transforms the way we connect with customers….which is huge.”
It’s not the media, but the message…
We don’t think that the measure for insurers is how much digital they are doing, but how well it is impacting their business. Back in November 2013, we noted an EY report which found that two thirds of insurers surveyed had had quick wins with digital initiatives, but only 10% of respondents were realizing transformational change as a result of digital initiatives.
During a keynote presentation at the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference 2014, Michel Laurin, president of Industrial Alliance Auto and Home Insurance, discussed the role of digital engagement in his company’s Mobiliz Usage-based Insurance (UBI) offering. In a weekly email to individual clients, Mobilz presents the driver’s own behavioural results for speeding, hard braking, etc. and comparison of the results with the balance of the “community”. The intention is to create competition for improvement.
We see parallels here with AXA’s strategy of continuous innovation. It is not social (or UBI, or any other technology) that is the objective. Rather, it is the intelligent utilization, resulting in improved customer engagement and profitable growth for the insurer.
What do you think?
We’d like your thoughts. Is the AXA announcement causing buzz in your organization? Is that buzz likely to stimulate activity? Do you think it should?