Nick Ford on November 16, 2016
The insurance industry has historically been risk averse and late adopters of new technologies, but the landscape is changing rapidly. New start-ups are leveraging a myriad of new technologies, and customer interactions have become almost completely digital. The current generation coming into the workplace is buying insurance products with the expectation that they can do everything online. 47 percent of customers want more online interactions with their insurers, 81 percent want to be able to manage investments online, and 52 percent want to be able to make a complaint online.
And according to Accenture, as high as 61 percent of customers in the UK say their insurer choice is influenced by the quality of its customer service.
Now insurers are given the challenge of living up to these customer expectations before their competitors figure it out first. Insurers are working to deliver greater customer insights, reduce costs, increase customer value and manage risk through digital insurance offers. However, the majority of insurers have not yet unlocked the full potential of digital to deliver great customer experiences and better operational efficiency.
One of the biggest differentiators between digital leaders and digital laggards is vision. According to a study from Genpact Research and ACORD, 82 percent of digital laggards said their company’s insufficient vision and leadership held them back from fully realizing the advantages of digital.
Insurers need to think beyond just updating their legacy systems and start realizing the potential of AI, the Internet of Things and cognitive services to create more personalized, convenient experiences for their customers and more efficient operations for their organization. In order to rapidly create these new personalized, digital insurance experiences in a market of uncertainty, insurers need to start small.
It isn’t realistic to try to make your entire organization a digital machine all at once. Rod Willmott, Fast Track Director at LV= Insurance advises insurers to “focus on your core strategic objectives, test and experiment quickly rather than bundling everything into one project.” The first step for insurers can be as simple as bringing their existing products online through self-service portals.
One life insurance company created a self-service customer portal where policy holders can change the beneficiary, update an address/contact information, or access policy documents directly online. Previously, to do any of these seemingly simple tasks required a much more manual process. Not only have these self-service customer portals created a more convenient system for policy holders, but digitizing and automating the process becomes a much more efficient operation for the insurer. No longer will insurers need to expend additional cost and time into making calls, mailing paper documents and transferring customer information from paper to computer.
Once these self-service customer portals are in place, insurers can start to experiment with creating new interactions and forms of value for customers, such as incentive programs for cross selling into new product line, or a more efficient way to handle claims management. Creating a central, multi-channel customer engagement portal where policy holders can access all their information across multiple product lines will begin to offer a better understanding of behavior and needs, helping to drive more tailored products and services.
This model of starting small with a simple but effective initiative to increase operational efficiency and experience can also apply to broker portals. One insurance company started with the challenge of eliminating the convoluted, manual exchanges with a self-service broker portal. After realizing how quickly they could get this solution off the ground and how much more efficient this solution was, they have now added an entire application set that covers: web sales, back end policy management, claims management and a customer service portal.
Once an online portal strategy is in place, you can build upon this foundation and begin experimenting with new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation and Cognitive Services to help drive down costs, improve customer experience and manage risk. But easy does it: creating a simple self-service portal to enable better engagement around existing products is a significant advance and a great way to deliver quick wins for your organization.
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