Clients be­come more de­mand­ing

New tech­no­log­i­cal plat­forms have changed the game for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, giv­ing clients more power

Financial Mail - - SPECIAL REPORT -

In a world where bad cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences are start­ing to smash records for most vi­ral Tweets and where re­jected claims at­tract more boy­cott hash­tags than po­lit­i­cal scan­dals, in­sur­ers need to go back to ba­sics and re­build trust with their cus­tomers, says Old Mu­tual In­sure’s head of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence An­to­nia Oakes.

She says though it was pos­si­ble to com­pete by of­fer­ing the low­est in­sur­ance pre­mium to con­sumers in the past, client ex­pe­ri­ence has now be­come the pri­mary con­sid­er­a­tion among most con­sumers when choos­ing with whom to in­sure their be­long­ings.

“Re­search has shown that clients are will­ing to pay more if the ex­pe­ri­ence is right. Trust now trumps the price of pre­mi­ums. To build such trust, we as in­sur­ers need to go back to the ba­sics and be hu­mane.

“Our cus­tomers need to feel that we care. Give cus­tomers a great ex­pe­ri­ence and they will buy more, be more loyal and share their ex­pe­ri­ence with their friends.”

Oakes says while the short­term in­sur­ance in­dus­try has em­braced tech­nol­ogy to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion and de­liv­ery of prod­ucts to cus­tomers, sim­ply rolling out dig­i­tal chan­nels is not go­ing to build cus­tomer affin­ity.

“Call it an ex­pe­ri­ence dis­con­nect. Com­pa­nies tout the lat­est tech­nolo­gies but they have not fo­cused on or in­vested in as­pects of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence to over­lay this tech­nol­ogy, which are the most mean­ing­ful. The trick is to use tech­nol­ogy with pur­pose to make the in­ter­ac­tion feel more hu­man — with­out cre­at­ing frus­tra­tion for cus­tomers, while em­pow­er­ing em­ploy­ees.”

While many other mar­kets have started us­ing pub­licly avail­able data such as so­cial me­dia to un­der­stand what mat­ters to their clients for un­der­writ­ing pur­poses, Oakes says SA in­sur­ers should start by us­ing data they col­lect through telem­atic and sim­i­lar de­vices ef­fec­tively.

“Us­ing so­cial me­dia and the in­ter­net of things to un­der­stand our clients’ be­hav­iour is key. Ob­vi­ously we have to use pub­licly avail­able data re­spon­si­bly and within the am­bit of the Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion (Popi) Act, but we al­ready have cus­tomer data that we can har­vest so much in­sight from.

“There are huge op­por­tu­ni­ties in track­ing cus­tomer be­hav­iour to in­form how com­pa­nies de­sign and de­velop prod­ucts, pro­cesses and cus­tomer en­gage­ments — cre­at­ing a warm feel­ing with cus­tomers at ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion with the brand.”

Oakes says get­ting cus­tomers on board and the claims stage re­main the two big­gest pain points.

“No-one wants to be on the phone for 30 min­utes an­swer­ing un­der­writ­ing ques­tions or fill­ing out loads of ap­pli­ca­tion forms. Ev­ery­one wants to at least be able to get a quote on­line and man­age their own port­fo­lios at a click of a but­ton, be it with a bro­ker or a cus­tomer. We have to start see­ing things from the clients’ per­spec­tive. They want to be em­pow­ered to track the sta­tus of their ap­pli­ca­tion and re­main in­formed with­out hav­ing to rely on too many chan­nels which could re­sult in feed­back hours or days later.”

She says if the claims process is han­dled cor­rectly, it is pos­si­ble for in­sur­ers to build trust with their clients even if a claim is re­jected.

“The claim stage is the big­gest mo­ment of truth in the cus­tomer’s jour­ney with their in­surer. We have to un­der­stand that the cus­tomer is usu­ally trau­ma­tised by the time we get the first no­ti­fi­ca­tion of loss. We should be try­ing as much as pos­si­ble to re­duce their trauma, not add to it,” says Oakes.

She says based on Old Mu­tual In­sure’s records, lack of feed­back has been iden­ti­fied as the big­gest cause of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the han­dling of claims. Just by get­ting a few ba­sics right, like ad­her­ing to promised turn­around times and keep­ing the client and bro­ker in­formed at ev­ery step of the process, in­sur­ers can change the way con­sumers per­ceive in­sur­ance — from a grudge pur­chase to a ne­ces­sity.

“We are not as ad­vanced as we should be in terms of ef­fec­tively in­te­grat­ing our om­nichan­nel plat­forms. How­ever, we are on the path of cor­rect­ing that.”

Oakes says the or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­ture needs to be right.

“If the strat­egy of the or­gan­i­sa­tion isn’t putting the client at the cen­tre, and if you are not driv­ing the cul­ture through cor­rect re­mu­ner­a­tion struc­tures for both staff and bro­kers, you can in­vest in tech­nol­ogy but you still won’t get it right.”

An­to­nia Oakes: Clients will­ing to pay more if the ex­pe­ri­ence is right

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