The digital revolution is driving change in all sectors and Insurance is not the first or last to face challenges. With evolving customer demands and expectation, it’s time to gear up to become a digital-first enterprise.
What exactly is becoming digital all about?
87% of companies see digital transformation more as a competitive opportunity and less as a customer facing requirement. The truth is that these are intrinsically linked. Customer experience has been a key driver in all transformation programmes – that is what will provide better customer services, loyalty and ultimately sales revenue.
I have noticed a trend from speaking to many of the top Insurers and listening to insights at industry events – the insurance industry is changing for the better. Companies leading the movement include industry newcomers like Bought by Many, Lemonade, Metromile and Ladder. Some call these companies disruptors; others call them innovators. So, what makes these companies successful and, at the same time, different from traditional insurance providers?
The answer seems obvious: They have taken a customer-centric approach to provide insurance services which are clearly core to their product and servicing offering. Millennials and Generation Z are setting high standards for how they expect to interact with businesses. We live in the time of Google, Facebook and Uber, where technology companies are becoming increasingly good at servicing our unique needs while providing instant gratification.
For too long, the insurance industry has been slow to respond to changing market trends in user experience (UX), but the tide is turning. Customer-centricity is becoming the new game in town and technology companies are leading the way. Traditional insurance companies can adapt to new customer expectations with some crucial adjustments.
Every transformation requires strategy
As organisations adopt technology like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Chatbots, Machine Learning (ML) for the automation of claims processing and beyond, consumers begin seeing these advancements as the norm. The idea that one company can provide seamless and efficient technology is enough to create the expectation that every company is capable.
But digital transformation isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses. Before rushing to implement the next new and flashy technology, organisations must develop a well-thought-out strategy that keeps the end customer top of mind. This strategy shouldn’t require a dramatic shift within the organisation, either – instead, organisations need to take time to properly integrate digital into an existing strategy or risk wasting time and resources implementing tech that doesn’t deliver customer value.
Transform transactional relationships into emotional ones
Companies that solve their customers’ problems by understanding their goals and challenges can connect with them on a deeper level. This creates a path toward changing the nature of the customer relationship.
Developing an accurate buyer persona, a fictionalised representation of your customers and their demographics, needs, wants and challenges is an important step in this transformation. To be effective, however, it must be based on real, objective data. In development and design, it is dangerous to succumb to confirmation bias — twisting information about customers in a way that supports your own beliefs or opinions.
Once you understand your customers’ goals and challenges, you should be laser-focused on them.
Understand your customers and their journeys
Knowing your customers and mapping their customer journeys (the process every buyer goes through leading up to purchase)- has always been essential to any business strategy. Today’s customer journeys include more channels and touchpoints. According to recent market research, even when it comes to something as “conservative” as life insurance, 47% of life insurance customers prefer an omnichannel journey. They expect the same experience through search, social, website, app and in-person interactions with the company.
The most successful insurance companies provide a consistent user experience (UX) across all channels. A seamless experience depends on an understanding of key customer journeys. You must understand the customer at a level where you can address their needs. It is important to know what people are thinking and what they are feeling.
Keep in mind that your customer journeys are not static — they will evolve as your competitors, markets and technology change. Make sure to update your customer journey at least once a year to stay relevant.
Put the customer first
Remember the old saying, “Give the customer what they want?” Today more than ever, this notion is on target. When you’re designing customer-facing experiences, don’t start with an “if we build it, they will come” mindset. This could lead to dangerous assumptions and create an opinion-centric design that works for you but not for your customers.
A better strategy begins with what the customer wants and then determine what to offer and how to offer it. The chief strategy officer at Aon said, “Have the customers lead; you put the customer first and move backwards from that.” This approach is a more organic way to grow existing businesses and build new areas of capability.
This line of thinking dovetails with my observations about the world’s best insurance and insurtech websites. What makes these websites so effective? They deliver on customers’ needs and wants, and the teams behind each site have gathered information directly from the source, eliminating guesswork from the equation.
The most important takeaway from my interactions with insurance industry leaders was the significance of one emerging trend: customer-centricity. The key to meeting evolving customer expectations is not only to champion customer-centricity in your company but to also lead others by practising what you preach.
While many insurers have embarked on customer-centricity focused digital transformation over the last three years, many are reporting less than satisfactory results.
The way forward is to re-evaluate existing technology ecosystems and accelerate technology investments to build a unified product distribution and customer experience platform.
Most core transformation programmes focus on customer experience, but improving operational efficiency and reducing operational costs are also achievable and should be pursued. Existing legacy environments are often the main barrier to progress. A way around this is to view transformation as an organisational—and not just an IT—endeavour. Start with strong change management and people management strategies aligned at the organisational level. Once this is done, all business areas can be brought to a common platform with unified digital experience leveraging data from all customer touchpoints.
Providing proactive, customer-centric products and services and building a unique and seamless customer engagement experience is the ultimate goal.