Sentiment of the Week: Love + Insurance + Mascots

By: Dheepan Ramanan

February 13, 2015

Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback
Sentiment Analysis

Insurance companies face a daunting truth—insurance is boring. The dryness of premiums, claims, and coverage policies leave even the most discerning of customers with cottonmouth.

Compounding the issue is that consumers buy insurance coverage with fingers crossed, thinking “I hope I never have to use this.” Consumers and insurance companies enter a compact where both mutually agree to hope to never hear from each other.

In the past few years, however, insurance companies have realized that all of the strongest brands create emotional connections with their customers.

Love in the Insurance Industry:

Although insurance providers have less volume in contact with their customers than retail businesses, it’s clear that insurance companies have prioritized customer experience. Using the Clarabridge intelligence platform, I performed competitive analysis on four insurance brands: Allstate, Progressive, Nationwide, and Aflac. I analyzed 75 customer touchpoints using Facebook data and used sentiment scoring to identify key themes. Clarabridge’s sentiment score is a measure of positivity or negativity on an 11 point scale from -5 to +5, 0 being neutral.

The results reveal a surprising level of customer love for this stodgy industry.

  • On average, customers are very satisfied with the level of insurance and coverage afforded to them by insurance companies. Across the four brands, 30% of all comments concerned insurance product satisfaction with positive sentiment.
  • Pricing and Value is a strong suit of the industry. Almost 3% of all comments concern pricing and on average score a strong positive 2 sentiment.
  • Claims handling is strong across all brands, with an average sentiment of .26.
  • Insurance employees are well regarded, and with agent follow-up and helpfulness in particular a bright spot.


Positive Themes in Insurance Sentiments

Highlights by Brand


Allstate was the lowest scoring brand in regards to sentiment. In comparison to the rest of the brands, pricing was strength as well as rep knowledge. Some aspects of the website also scored well, such as account security, privacy and website design.


Aflac scored the second lowest of all four brands in our comparison, but still had areas of over performance compared to the group as whole. Aflac customers were the most positive of any company in regards to refunds or discounts as well as rep problem resolution and communication skills. Aflac customers mentioned hold times 31% less than average, with much higher sentiment, ease of claims processing was another benefit to being an Aflac customer with customers mentioning this theme 149% more often than average.


Nationwide is notable for a high customer service attitude, and speed of service, with both categories scoring .5 points better than the average sentiment. Another thought that should put Nationwide customers at ease- is claim denials, or the lack of them. 83% fewer customers mentioned having their claim denied with this particular insurer.


Progressive has the highest sentiment on pricing of any of the comparative brands, scoring .28 points better than average. Auto insurance sentiment with the brand is also higher than any other insurance brand. Billing services is another area of high performance for Progressive. Progressive customers are 74% more likely to say that their bill is up to date and 56% more likely to say that their bill is accurate. Another vote of confidence for the brands comes in the form of renewal comments: Progressive customers mention renewal 138% more often than the average brand.

Insurance Mascots

Aside from these operational touchpoints, insurance brands distinguish themselves by creating their now infamous mascots. In analyzing AllState’s Mayhem, Progressive’s Flo, and the Aflac Duck we found that insurance mascots dramatically improve customer engagement and create powerful positive brand associations.



Comparison of Brand & Mascot

Examining the top line numbers for social engagement, it is clear that insurance mascots dramatically outpace their brands in likes and followers. This is most extreme in Progressive, where Flo has 5.4 million likes on Facebook compared to only 339 thousand likes for the brand.



Insurance Mascots: Positive vs. Negative Sentiment

All of the insurance mascots have positive sentiment scores, with the Aflac duck scoring 1.86—the highest of the group. This is a tremendous over performance in comparison to baseline global sentiment. Across social media, the scores for the individual brands themselves are all much more negative with an average brand scores a -.25 sentiment score.

The emotions generated by brands with mascots are more positive and through brand posts and tweets, these mascots create positive memories associated to their insurance provider.

These mascots on average create 225% more love than the average consumer brand on Facebook. Of these mascots, the Aflac duck is the most successful at creating love. Mayhem is deemed the funniest, with humor mentioned 22% more often with the character.

Why social sentiment analysis is important in the insurance industry

These insights are just the tip of the iceberg of what insurance companies can glean from doing a comprehensive competitive social analysis.  It’s fun to know what makes customers happy and which mascots deliver the most engagement, but you can turn it into action by understanding the root cause of your customer’s sentiment.

The primary purposes for conducting a sentiment analysis is to pinpoint areas of improvement in operational touch-points. In other words, sentiment analysis can answer the question: “what can you do to make customers happier with your business?”  You may know that some aspects of your business are pain points through other feedback forms like survey or call center sources, but without analyzing social feedback it is impossible to benchmark your company’s performance against your competitors. In addition, social customer sentiment provides a unified metric across all sources with unstructured feedback, revealing a complete picture of customer experience.

What do customers love about your brand? Check out our marketing eBook The CX Files: Marketing. How Customer Experience Management Helps Marketers Uncover the Truth About Their Brands to find out.  

Dheepan Ramanan is a data scientist at Clarabridge. Follow him on Twitter @DheepanRamanan.