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How insurers can transform the customer experience

Imagine the perfect customer service scenario – the kind of seamless and flawless interaction that every insurance company dreams of. The employee dealing with the customer would be in the driving seat at every step, with all current information at their fingertips, available in real-time. They would also have at their command a wealth of historic data regarding previous interactions. This kind of 360-degree view would give them the power to instantly analyse the customer’s exact needs and react with the optimal solution. They might even be in a position to recommend additional types of insurance that weren’t part of the initial agenda. And if the interaction should be interrupted for some reason, the conversation could be resumed at the exact point where it was dropped. The customer would end up feeling valued, understood, treated as an individual, disinclined to churn to an alternative supplier.

Sounds fantastic? This ‘hyper-personalised customer experience’ is not a concept, it’s a reality today for many services-based organisations. But making it work requires a number of elements to be in place – the right quality of data, application of the appropriate technology, and an organisation-wide commitment to transform digitally. By continuing to rely on legacy infrastructure and methods, insurers may start to find themselves disadvantaged in various ways. They might, for example, suffer from:

  • An inability to share data across lines of business and data silos

  • Decisions reached based on old data, as well as time wasted finding the right data 

  • Slower speed to market and longer development cycles for new products

  • Lower expectations of delivery and reduced business agility

  • A poor customer experience including slow response to queries

  • An inconsistent customer experience across channels and lines of business leading to a lower Net Promoter Score (NPS), and thus lower retention rates

Working towards a digitally-driven customer engagement model is something all insurers should be aspiring to if they want to get past problems like these and future proof their business. 

There are bound to be bumps in the road that complicate matters, some particular to the insurance sector. Most insurers, for example, have grown by acquisition. They have bought different companies over the years and thus may operate multiple business lines, ranging from general insurance covering home and motor to specialist insurance, perhaps for pets or holidays. It is natural that they might struggle to see a commonality between customers across these different lines. 

It is also a fact that insurance works with a different engagement model to comparable industries, like retail banking. Customer touchpoints tend to be either a renewal once a year, or a claim. The customer is not in an optimal frame of mind for extended engagement in either instance, in the first because their premium has probably gone up, or in the case of a claim because something bad has just happened.

There is also the matter of continued reliance on older technologies, something that insurers have begun to address as part of a transformational journey. A number have created data warehouses and data lakes to help give them a single view of the customer across multiple business silos. By this means, they may have gained a one- or two-day old view of a customer. What they should be aspiring to is an up to the second or at least up to the minute view of that customer across different silos.

Ultimately, every dealing that an insurer has with the customer should be a real-time, event-based interaction. The good news is that the kind of events-based solutions that were entering service 10 or more years ago have been considerably enhanced by a whole new generation of technology advances. A virtual orchestration layer is now made possible with the deployment of microservices and DevOps methodologies, as well as through cloud migration, data virtualisation, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

In short, insurers are a lot closer to the goal of a consistent quality of service across multiple channels, involving predictive, data-driven, contextual decisions and offers. We’re at a point where they can benefit from accelerated speed to market, better collaboration between lines of business, and a more streamlined customer journey. As their business grows, a real-time, AI-powered event-based approach will reduce costs and increase revenues. The power of the cloud will lead to more connected ecosystems, while delivering insights from data. 

One such example is that of Sara Assicurazioni. Working with TIBCO, the Italian insurer built a multi-cloud enterprise application solution that connects all its data and has reimagined the way it develops and delivers insurance. Thanks to newfound flexibility and scalability, it introduced a new level of innovation and shifted from broad, all-in-one policies to highly personalised products based on customer habits, behaviours, and preferences. With greater availability and mobility, it is now bringing digitally-fuelled products to market faster than ever before. 

The beneficiaries are the customers, who can now get a consistent, personalised service, sales and marketing teams through highly targeted offers at the point of customer interaction, and the business overall which can anticipate increased revenues and happy customers.




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