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For insurers, experience will be more important than product

By GREG GATHERER Greg Gatherer, Account Manager, Liferay Africa

With increasingly high client expectations, it is vital for any insurance organisation’s long-term success to invest in improving and refining its digital strategy. However, the question remains as to how far you are willing to go.

It’s been 18 months of learning, and many businesses have recovered from the initial shock of pandemic-related changes and are settling into the idea of the coming year and a post-pandemic future.

Numerous carriers fell asleep at the wheel, failing to position themselves ahead of their policyholders in order to capitalise on this new relationship between the brand and policyholders. 

On the other side, insurers that were proactive in offering new digital capabilities through omnichannel discovered ways to sustain a dialogue, which resulted in increased retention and loyalty. Companies that performed well over the pandemic were those who sought to reach out to, and interact directly, with their policyholders in a timely and transparent manner. 

Insurance is something that many people avoid thinking about, but when they do, it is frequently during an emotionally charged period of their lives. Whether you’re purchasing a home, getting married, or filing a claim, it’s a significant life event. This means that insurers must carefully plan the journey. Consumers desire frictionless interaction anywhere, whenever, and on whatever device they choose. Consumers are accustomed to seeing this in other industries and expect to be able to transact any business online and on-demand.

What are some of the things that organisations should consider in order to progress?

For any carrier, a connected world represents a significant cultural shift in how they think about their business and their relationship with policyholders. 

They must understand that their customers are policyholders, not just agents. The policyholder is the person who must be included in the definition of customer.  

It’s important for insurance companies to understand that they are in the business of selling experiences rather than goods. Consider the experience of obtaining a policy, submitting a claim and paying a bill. Once carriers recognise that they are in the experience business, they will be able to overcome a cultural shift.

The critical challenge

There is a real conflict between traditional tried-and-true business practices and new consumer expectations.

  • Do you rely on agents or invest in digital advertising when you go to market? 
  • Is it through a self-service portal or integration with an agency management system that you accept applications?
  • Do you still accept paper applications, or are you open to email?
  • Who is providing the first notice of loss, and how are they doing so?

Self-service is a critical capability that has ripple effects on how insurers do business. There are three major journey pain points addressed by digital self-service:

  • Self-service gives the consumer the ability to be proactive. Often, after an interaction with an insurer, a consumer is left wondering what the next step is.
  • Digital self-service eliminates the concept of being in the dark. Transactions are completed in real time, and a receipt is issued.
  • Digital self-service eliminates the need to rely on someone else to complete a task.

Best practices in digital self-service

The companies that are succeeding in this area are direct-to-consumer large brands. They understand that digital self-service is more than a collection of forms – it is an omnichannel experience. They are organising real-time communication via chat, phone, and text, giving the consumer options. For digital self-service to succeed, real-time conversations must occur, orchestrated on the backend.

When done correctly, omnichannel unlocks everything that today’s data and analytics can – this includes personalisation, or speaking to a consumer in the manner in which they like to be addressed. It can be connected to the next best action in order to increase loyalty and upsell. 

Additionally, there are cross-sell options, which represent potential for carriers. Carriers are squandering a great deal of opportunity by failing to invest in the infrastructure required to fulfil orchestration requirements and provide superior customer support. By surprising people and offering them something for free, it creates potential for loyalty and incentives. 

By completing all of these steps, you may achieve the level of experience engineering and orchestration that you would expect from a firm like Amazon.

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