The Modern Insurance Customer
How do you buy your insurance? Call an agent? Go online and compare quotes? Research from EY suggests that in the UK, nearly half of all new home insurance sales and more than two-thirds of motor insurance sales are conducted online. Clearly, an industry which was considered ultra traditional is exposed to our rapidly evolving customer mindset.
We are self-sufficient, information savvy, willing to experiment and expect our provider to understand us in context. Today’s insurance customer has complex requirements. From selecting a policy to filing a claim or simply viewing information, the modern customer follows a somewhat disjointed journey across various digital gadgets and physical touch points.
If an insurer wants to flourish today, they need to understand customers don’t just buy products or services, they buy into experiences.
The Changing Insurance Environment
Insurance companies understand the need for change and are adopting newer ways of working but this isn't always as easy as it sounds. Traditional insurance providers are facing competition from the InsurTech industry. The market share of insurtech startups is increasing as they continue to provide disruptive technologies within the sector.
According to a recent report from EY, there has been a shift in investment towards IoT, AI, cloud, Big Data and blockchain. In the insurance sector, that creates opportunities for new platforms and more tailored, personalised ways of doing business. Research by the global development agency, Everis found that startups in analytics, predictive models, automated advice, streamlined claims processes and payment transactions are attracting funds and partnerships from traditional insurers. From being a siloed sector, insurance is evolving to become an integral part of a larger InsurTech digital landscape with startup firms turning into integrators or in some cases even competitors.
Being a digital insurer of the future means stepping ahead and adopting a customer-centric approach. In a digital world, this requires a hybrid organisation which is open to innovation, data-driven and has flexible technologies with an open architecture. (See fig.1)
Image source: Everis
Becoming the Insurer of the Future- Designing a Digital Insurance Strategy
Digital insurance teams are assigned the onerous task of digitizing the entire customer lifecycle. A typical insurance provider today delivers great customer experiences through various touch points across a wide variety of channels (website, call centers etc.), all managed by different people with different goals and metrics. It’s easy to lose sight of the journey from a customers perspective.
The experience of every insurance customer is unique and it is the deeper understanding of this experience that helps provide the best journey for them. Forrester advocates the use of customer journey mapping as an integral part of any plan for success. The process begins with drawing a journey map which outlines steps or actions that customers takes to achieve a given goal - all touch points they encounter, their thoughts on each step, pain points and questions along the way. This helps the internal teams to identify any issues with existing customer journeys. Fig 2, illustrates a customer journey map for insurance strategy.
Image source: Forrester
Customer Journeys in Practice in the Insurance Industry
At Allianz, the global insurer, they believe that customers don’t care about processes, they are experiencing a journey. To change the focus from process to experience, they implemented 70 customer journey improvement projects across 24 business units.
With the help of customer-experience practices they began to analyze the different journeys people took when using their services. From health claims to automotive incidents, each journey was examined to find the pain and the positive in each. This revealed that most people are hybrid customers. They start online but prefer to purchase offline. This led to investment in a set of digital tools that complimented the off-line experience, adding consistency for the customer, and economy for the employees serving them.
That in turn, led to cost reduction through streamlining and demand avoidance i.e. self-serve capabilities that avoided calls to call centers.
Technology Selection in Developing Customer-Centric Solutions
When someone shops for an insurance policy, they usually do research and get quotes online, then switch to a call center or a chatbot to complete a transaction. Understanding the channel switch pattern and making it convenient for customers is the key to better experiences and converting sales. A holistic customer experience demands seamless interactions and an omnichannel operation. The objective is to go beyond multi-channel and enable real-time transfer of interactions. This calls for digital technology that is not only agile and adaptive but is able to capture and aggregate data from multiple sources.
The emerging category of digital experience platforms can allow companies to meet such requirements and overcome hurdles with an ultimate goal of providing better customer experience. These software can:
- Monitor every interaction customers have with the brand
- Provide a single view of the customer lifecycle
- Create and manage experiences at most important digital touch points
- Integrate diverse systems into a single data source
Specifically, in the insurance industry, digital experience platforms can help in the following ways:
- Offer a self-serve platform - get access on mobile and web to statements, quotes, invoices, request for service and complete transactions
- Omnichannel experience with the brand - ensuring that customers are able to complete the same action regardless of the device
- Developing a collaborative employee experience to share content and promote an integrated work environment
- Revamping the public website - consolidating multiple out of date properties into one website
- Facilitating personalised engagement with customers - unifying policy and customer information into a single customer identification system that allows better decision making with customer data
Digital Experience Platforms in Action
Mercury, the insurance solution provider, is a great example of this approach using a DXP. They built a comprehensive digital service which provides a great digital experience while enabling the company to be much more responsive to its customers. With it’s new service, policyholders can sign in once and access all their information in one place. It is mobile-responsive, allowing people to access their information at a time and place that works for them and customers can reach out to agents directly for help. There are numerous self-service options like making payments and customizing communications that help the customer in context and in the moment.
The opportunity for insurers to differentiate themselves through customer experience is growing. The pressure of customer expectation is rising. Just look to your own expectations in the services you consume to understand how much things have moved on in the last 5-10yrs.
Don’t fall behind, don’t be stuck with product, function or channel-centric views. We all need to build relationships with customers and this means creating holistic, omnichannel journeys that engage and assist. It’s not just acquisition that drives this approach, it’s the ongoing experience of the existing customer and their after sales engagement that instills loyalty and retains people's business.