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The insurance industry is undergoing a significant transformation moving to address the needs of the digital customer. This article reviews the key trends impacting how insurance companies reimagine the customer experience with the help of modern technology.
Insurance is part of our daily lives, both in our private and professional lives. It plays an essential role in safeguarding assets and people from risks and it contributes to our social well-being.
Until recently, the sector was rather conservative and uncreative, due to the very nature of the insurer whose various forms of service were limited to issuing an insurance policy to a customer. Technological investment was then mainly devoted to the optimization of operational and risk management.
While most insurers already use CRM systems to manage customer relationships and interactions, the limitations of the legacy systems are becoming increasingly apparent. The emergence of the digital and well-informed customer now requires insurers to go much further. The convergence of digital marketing, social networks, self-service apps and portals, connected objects and customer service is leading them to rethink the relationship they have with their customers.
All these factors are contributing to the digital transformation of insurance companies with some of them completely rethinking their products or developing new business models.
In this article, we will review five key trends impacting how insurance companies think and act on their customer relationship and experience management strategies.
Driven by the overall change of customer expectations and the emergence of InsurTech players that have completely reimagined their policyholder experience, insurance companies are focused on empowering the digitally native customer with advanced yet easy-to-use self-service tools such as web portals and mobile apps.
There are two key moments in the insurance customer journey—purchasing a policy and making a claim when a covered risk event has occurred.
The 24x7 availability of any service on their mobile device is the norm for digital customers. They expect to be able to easily purchase insurance coverage through user-friendly tools to input data, simulate and review conditions transparently and buy instantly.
As offer comparison portals have become the go-to place for customers looking for their new provider, it is vital for an insurance company to make a great first impression (not just with a good price). The process of closing the contract quickly online is vital to attract new policy holders.
Moreover, once acquired, the focus within the self-service tools changes to retention and increasing the customer lifetime value by providing useful advice, relevant offers, and timely notifications to the policy holder. The best digital experiences generate a feeling that the insurance company cares about their policyholders not just before but after selling the products by offering a human touch and personalization.
Digital customers also expect a seamless claim management experience, which enables them to quickly know what to do under stress and track the evolution of their claims. Digital leaders in the insurance space are already offering photo- and video-based claim submission and automated processing with the help of AI tools.
A great example for this is the American InsurTech Lemonade which is paying out claims on their renters insurance product instantly, based only on a short recorded video message by the policy holder, processed by using machine learning to detect the risk of fraud. Claim management innovations are moving in the direction of automatic detection of risk events with the help of IoT devices and even predicting events and alerting the policyholders in advance.
The self-service tools are not only focused to improve the policyholder experience. They also optimize the working time of agents by reducing the number of visits for administrative activities and enabling them to focus more on advising and producing more value for the policyholder and the company. Information and documents exchanged digitally also means that there are less errors in the process.
Digital leaders in insurance are not only focusing on selling their products and managing customer claims—they deliver regular and consistent personalized engagement to boost customer satisfaction and lifetime value.
It all starts with leveraging modern data integration approaches. Data from all business systems such as CRM, core insurance, claim management, digital engagement platforms and unstructured data such as documents and communication, are combined by the so-called "Customer Data Platforms" to create a more intelligent customer view beyond the 360 degrees—for example by linking information about other household members or company employees.
This enables the creation of personalized and actionable insights for both cross- and up-selling, and for providing advice and guidance to the policyholders. Prioritizing these insights and how the customers receive information in a non-intrusive manner is of paramount importance to delight today’s hyper-connected customers.
The relevant information is communicated using each customer’s preferred channel. Their reaction is captured 24x7, in real-time, which allows insurers to pre-qualify an affinity score, and fine-tune further communication. This approach has proven much more efficient than cold calls or door-to-door agents.
What’s more, these actionable insights can activate automated customer journeys, guiding the policyholder through multiple personalized steps combining digital communication and human interactions in a smooth and delightful manner.
Examples for this include:
Employees and agents play a huge role in delivering great customer experience even to digital policyholders. It’s a well-known fact that a negative interaction can only be negated after 6-10 positive interactions, and great personal communication is of utmost importance to ensure high customer satisfaction.
Insurance has traditionally suffered in empowering their workforce due to product-centric business processes. However, today’s trend is to turn a complete 360 degree (plus) customer view, teamwork and collaboration tools into an intelligent workplace that automates processes, makes employees more efficient and enables agents to focus on supporting customers rather than administration.
The intelligent workplace offers a personalized user experience, with features depending on each person’s role within the insurance organization–marketing, sales, customer service and operations. However, each role has the same holistic policyholder overview that goes way beyond basic contact information and enables better decision-making.
When interacting with customers, agents receive a better overview of any risks and can suggest the right coverage tailored to each policyholder’s situation. They also see recommendations for next best actions, life events, product affinities, and opportunities.
Very much like the self-service tools available to the policyholders, the support focuses not just on selling but also on providing relevant advice. It can inform when a policy is expiring soon, or when a customer may find certain information useful about mitigating their personal or professional risks. What is more, the intelligent workplace guides the agents through the sales cycle with more details on each step, enabling better forecasting and preventing them from forgetting important moments in the customer's lifecycle. The most important tasks are always prominently displayed on the intuitive dashboard.
The intelligent workplace is not just for information, though. It acts based on insights through process automation and supports collaboration with other stakeholders within the organization. When a customer wants to negotiate a better price, an agent can initiate a request to their manager with a couple of clicks, and the manager can approve the request straight from their intelligent workplace. This takes merely minutes , delivering a fast and maybe even delightful experience to the customer.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already reached a mature stage where it can be infused within the customer experience and processes to:
This further empowers the workforce and delights the customers.
Instead of relying on monthly or daily reports, digital insurance leaders empower their employees on all levels with access to real-time data in rich interactive dashboards directly within their intelligent workplace, significantly speeding up the decision-making process within the organization.
Having a great partnering DNA is a key differentiator for digital leaders in insurance. This trend enables providing insurance products through channel partners in a scalable way that helps grow the business for the insurance company, thus creating valuable platform business.
In the traditional insurer-broker relationship, there’s a lot to optimize—and it directly impacts the customer experience. Digital insurance leaders empower their partners with automated B2B portals and interfaces to exchange data and documents.
In Germany and Austria, a standard called "BiPRO" is providing a common way for the value chain participants to exchange information in an automated manner, with the aim to achieve better customer experience and internal efficiency.
Moreover, with the global trend to level the playing field in financial services, EIOPA (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) launched a consultation on open insurance in 2021, with the aim to understand the point of view of various industry participants on sharing policyholder data and opening the value chain to third-party participants. Similar to open banking initiatives in the last years, open insurance may be seen as a threat by many traditional insurance players. However, it is also a huge opportunity to rethink and modernize their business models and become even better partners to a wide range of innovative players.
One way to appreciate this trend is by considering embedded insurance solutions. Providing a superior developer experience and APIs to third party innovators can significantly differentiate a digital insurance leader from their competitors. Equally, focusing on customer journeys—how customers think about their personal and professional risks and what are the most likely touchpoints to act on covering them—can inform the partnership strategy of a forward-thinking insurance company.
Legacy technology is hindering innovation. Modern cloud platforms are the only practical way to enable the multitude of innovative use cases discussed in this article and address today’s customer needs.
A key question for insurance companies is whether to choose many best-of-breed solutions for their digital strategy and spend considerable efforts on integrating them or invest in a best-of-suite platform that comes with pre-integrated building blocks. In my experience, established players who position themselves as digital leaders chose the latter approach to gain faster time-to-market without losing flexibility.
A modern cloud platform tailored to the insurance industry enables the creation of fully digital products, helps match new products more intelligently to policyholders and enables the rollout of new business models such as IoT-based insurance, subscription models, embedded insurance, and integration with marketplaces.
Technology is one side of the coin—transforming the organizational culture into a more digital and innovative one—is the one side. Without this, any technology initiative is doomed to fail. We see that digital insurance leaders lead this transformation from the very top, instilling a mission-driven approach to transformation. At the end, it’s all about the customer, their needs and desires. The customers are now digital customers. And employees are now digital users. The only way to succeed in the market is to combine digital transformation with a cultural transformation.
The major trends in transforming customer experience and customer relationships within the insurance industry are driven by:
It’s an urgent imperative for all insurance companies to leave their legacy CRM technology behind and move to a modern cloud platform, which can help them deliver their digital roadmap and address these trends in a consistent manner.
See how we help insurance companies transform their business by helping evaluate the right systems, align your digital strategy with your company goals, implement the system and customize as well as support for your success.
Radoy has been a former C-level financial services executive in IT, Operations and Marketing for more than 10 years, and a software consultant for another 15 years. He has spent the last 6 years advising and delivering digital transformation projects at banks, insurers and FinTech/InsurTech startups. He specializes in digital business models in financial services, digital customer journeys and user experience, Open Finance, AI, blockchain, and cloud technology as an innovation enabler.
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