Charlotte Harrison is product manager at iPipeline
I have just bought my first pram. Sorry, not pram – ‘Travel System’. It turned out that this purchase was not the straightforward process I had expected.
There are hundreds of different options to review. You must consider the weight of the pram, easiness to fold, storability, age suitability, car seat adapters, car seat compatibility, coffee cup holders and of course price. I ended up down a Google rabbit hole. I had naively assumed a pram was a pram, I hadn’t appreciated prams could be complex death traps that needed comprehensive research.
I spent hours on numerous consumer sites trying to collate enough information to make an informed decision, and when a ‘travel system’ can cost up to £2,000 you want to make sure you get it right.
THE RIGHT PURCHASE
This is just one example of how being a consumer can be stressful. How can you make sure you are making the right purchase? For any large purchase you end up having to make decisions based on a number of assumptions, and when it’s important the stress levels can ramp up. No one wants to spend thousands of pounds on the wrong item.
I would love to have looked at a simple table of the different travel systems and been able to understand exactly what specifications they all had and how well rated they were.
Unfortunately, this was not available, so I had to cobble together my own research and take a punt in a Black Friday sale. Hopefully I have made the right choice.
It’s not just prams that have become increasingly complex; this is an overall consumer trend. We have never had so many options to choose from: cars have more gadgets, we can select from hundreds of holiday destinations and online shopping allows thousands of choices.
This increase in choice has not skipped the life insurance industry – products are more complex and there are more features and value-added services than ever before.
This is great news for the end consumer as these services offer real value, but it doesn’t come without some additional complications.
With so many different products available, each containing their own unique features and value-added services, how can we expect advisers to memorise what product supports what features? If you then layer in the quality of that feature it becomes a herculean task to decide which product is best suited to the end client.
How can an adviser be expected to know and keep up to date with which product has the best counselling service or the most comprehensive children’s cover? It doesn’t seem a fair ask.
You can take the simple approach of ignoring these additional features and instead just look down the list of protection products and pick the cheapest.
But this doesn’t provide the best outcome for the consumer. Cheapest often isn’t the best, and the end consumer may miss out on some great value-added services they could have benefitted from.
Maybe having access to counselling services is important to a client, or perhaps they have children, so children’s cover would make a real difference to them.
The good news is there are some great tools advisers can use to help them compare the different elements of a policy.
However, these generally sit outside the adviser’s core process and creates yet another step to take. For this reason, iPipeline has partnered with Protection Guru to create a product features report, making it easier for advisers to understand the features a product supports as well as being able to compare these features on quality, not just price. Advisers should be given the tools that allow them to do the best job possible and ensure their client ends up not just with cover, but the cover that is suited to their individual needs.
In the last few years we have seen an evolution in the consumer buying experience. More is offered because consumers both expect and demand more.
Yes, it may sometimes add complexity and a bit of stress, but it also means we have the potential to buy a product that is tailored to our needs and is geared towards our lifestyle. We are now working in an industry which offers fantastic, lifechanging products backed by extraordinary advisers.
Customers can utilise services that allow them to get second medical opinions, rehabilitation to help them get their lives back on track and nutritional services to keep them healthy. Policies aren’t just about the end pay-out anymore; they offer real value over the lifetime of the plan.
By providing technology solutions to meet clients’ needs and embedding the value of advice above and beyond what can be found on aggregator sites, the industry can take a positive step forward in keeping quality at the heart of the protection conversation.