Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Bank Marketing, Volume 29, Issue 7
About the Guest EditorJulie Robson is Director of Enterprise at the Business School, Bournemouth University, UK.
Insurance is a challenging industry. On the positive side, insurance provides peace of mind to the policyholder, transferring risk and thereby protecting the insured from potentially significant financial loss. The challenges are however many and varied. The products are often complex, yet are increasingly being commoditised and purchased on price. Annual contracts result in the need for minimal contact between consumer and insurer, making it difficult to build relationships and loyalty. Consumption of the product is often delayed and indeed may never take place if an insurance claim is not made. In the distant past, solutions to these challenges were sought solely by the insurance sector. However, with deregulation of the financial services market and the increase in cross-selling of financial products, bancassurance and allfinaz, these challenges are now shared with the banks, building societies, credit card companies and indeed major high street supermarkets and others. The insurance sector really does provide a rich context for academics and practitioners from many backgrounds to explore key marketing theories and concepts and provide new insights. Marketing academics have however tended to ignore the insurance sector and in preference have focused on banking. The goal of this special issue was to raise an awareness of insurance as a research context and to bring together papers detailing research in this sector that would be of relevance to academics and practitioners either in insurance or related sectors.
This special edition consists of four papers, one viewpoint, two research articles and one executive insight. Together these papers cover a varied range of insurance themes. However, this edition also leaves many more of the challenges insurance presents unaddressed. As part of an extended editorial, the first paper, a viewpoint entitled “Addressing the research needs of the insurance sector” has therefore been included to provide a practitioners view of research with the aim of stimulating academics to undertake more research in this sector. This viewpoint identifies the areas of research considered key by practitioners and the methodological (and other) issues they face.
The second paper, “Determinants of digitally instigated insurance relationships” co-authored by Sabine Gebert-Pesson and Mikael Gidhagen seeks to develop a conceptual model for explaining customers’ intentions towards using the Internet as a channel for communication and interaction with insurance companies by integrating the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and trust. Given the increasing use of the internet by insurance companies for everything from premium quotation to policy issue to claim reporting and handling and finally renewal this is an important and valuable topic for this edition.
The third paper by Irinja Mäenpää, entitled “Value through combined offerings of bank and insurance” examines how financial service providers cross-sell combined bank and insurance service offerings in a business to business context with the aim of increasing our understanding of the creation of customer value through cross-selling. The paper focuses on SMEs and identifies their preference to acquire banking and insurance products and services separately. It also provides advice to financial service providers, be they banks or insurers, on how best to cross sell to SMEs.
The final paper is entitled “Retaining customer satisfaction in turbulent times” and is co-authored by Eugene Fram and Michael McCarthy. This paper provides an executive insight into the actions financial institutions can take to maintain customer satisfaction during the recent difficult economic and regulatory period. Although this paper looks at customer satisfaction from the perspective of bank trust officers, the findings are relevant to other financial service providers whose products are long term and where client retention is critical to their success. Indeed, customer satisfaction was identified as a key area of research by insurance practitioners as reported in the first viewpoint paper in this edition.
This special edition could not have been accomplished without the help of several people. First, I would like to thank the editor of the International Journal of Bank Marketing, Professor Jillian Farquhar for her support in developing the idea for this special edition and in helping to bring it to fruition. I am also grateful to all the other people at Emerald who have (with great patience) been involved in this project. Special thanks also go to the reviewers of the papers and contributors, particularly for their prompt and constructive feedback.
I hope you enjoy this special edition and that it inspires you to undertake research in the insurance sector.
Julie RobsonGuest Editor