Customer Experience in the Age of Digital Insurance
There are four relevant trends that help to drive the nature of customer experience in digital insurance:
First, the broad-based digitalization of our society. Being connected all the time, typically via smartphones, is the norm. And we’ve moved from making phone calls to preferring chat (whether text or video) and now increasing in popularity are voice-based interfaces with a human, or likely a chatbot or robotic advisor.
• Second, thanks to other industries whether music or media, travel or more recently banking, the expectation from customers is that they want to be in control of the information they seek, the product they desire or the service they want and they want ‘it’ now. Whether it is a piece of music, approval for a credit card, an airline ticket, or because, their neighbor got robbed yesterday, renter’s insurance.
Third, the increasing use of smart and connected devices - whether safety-conscious cars (a recent car rental feature irritated me by notifying me whenever I changed lanes; I wondered if it notified the car rental company as well?) to multifarious sensors in homes and commercial establishments.
Fourth, the increasing use of analytics and artificial intelligence (to automate and therefore render real-time decisions and processes that were hitherto manual). This is not visible to the customer, but is essential if an insurer wants to give the customer what she wants.
Considering the above, let’s discuss what it means to deliver a world class digital experience by ‘talking’ to the customer through any channel, in a tailored and personalized manner – being aware of who he is, what he wants, what he likes or dislikes:
Being able to keep the context of conversations from one interaction to another.
Talking in one voice. Making the most of each interaction. Keeping the message simple. Keeping the process simple.
Using existing information and supplement with third-party sources to make interactions highly customized.
Finding ways of connecting that add value to the customer, are not intrusive and ideally are the consequence of the customer making a conscious opt-in.
Let’s consider these individually.
The technology that allows a multi-channel dialog isn’t difficult – what is difficult is keeping these conversations consistent, and to remember the context of the previous conversations. The most common instance of the lack of continuity is the need to have the customer provide the same information more than once via various touchpoints, whether by voice, chat, app or website. These types of repetitive queries could irk the customer enough that she will begin to question the quality of the core service the insurer provides. This requirement, though simple to state, has profound implications on the architecture of insurance core systems – think coherent, tightly integrated and individual-centric.
Talking in one voice is about ensuring that all interactions with the customer speak with one voice. The billing interaction should be cognizant of what’s going on in underwriting and claims, as well as the other way around. This avoids the duplication of communication, and the feeling of dealing with a bureaucracy. To effectively manage streamlined communication, this has both technology and significant organizational implications at both the back end and client facing roles. For example, modern insurers are questioning the role of distinct CSRs for billing/claims/underwriting and whether having underwriter’s and a claims adjuster rotate through each other’s roles will help to create a single voice of the organization.
Keeping context and being consistent has a very natural outcome that should not be neglected – namely, making the most of each transaction. If a customer interacts with an insurer for some reason, this is a good time to tell him about what he owes, and what the insurer can offer him – whether advice about his driving if he’s getting too many tickets (or too many warnings on his car’s safety system) or an additional product that is timely i.e. vacation coverage if he’s about to take a road-trip. Typically, the last thing a customer wants to be doing is dealing with his insurance company so maximizing on client engagements when the opportunity arises is adventageous.
InsureTechs spend significant time addressing ‘keeping it simple’ with both process and message. At origination, they present their value proposition in terms of what the customer needs, NOT what insurance provides. They view simplifying insurance as part of their secret sauce. The word “coverage” isn’t used, “line of business” is forbidden. This focus on speaking the customer’s language extends to what a customer wants to do when interacting – which is very little. Therefore, the processes of quoting and binding, payments and claims are kept very fat-free.
Getting to simplicity isn’t easy. It requires unfettered access to everything that the insurer has gathered about the customer. In addition, there are a variety of services that offer structured and unstructured information about individuals that needs to be acquired and merged with in-house information. It needs all this information, a lot of analysis to achieve the end goal of having a personalized dialog with customer … a person speaking to a person. Given enough volume, one gets a bonus – one not only knows more about the individual with whom they’re dealing, they can also get data scientists to give insight about behavior of people who resemble them...leading to highly customized interactions.
Finally, can an insurer keep these interactions reasonably frequent? After successfully closing a sale, it is necessary for an insurer to continue to market to, and engage with the new customer. This allows the insurer to be perceived positively in the customer’s consciousness so he will buy again, and buy more. Peer-to-Peer insurance providers have a built-in advantage in this area, but others should, while sticking to their core value proposition, reach out to the customer with information and offers that are relevant, and not pushy. Keep in mind that it is better NOT to interact than to interact poorly, because the latter will destroy the existing asset-base. The conversational commerce to which we aspire does not suffer fools or stalkers.
Ultimately, giving the customer what she wants will improve the competitiveness of an insurance company, because much of what the customer wants necessitates a deep and wide restructuring of the way insurance companies operate. This will lead to lower customer acquisition costs, improve retention and lower operating costs. A major cost take-out will happen for those who are successful at this journey. For those who don’t make the shift, the outcome is unlikely to be happy.