Rapid Innovation Across the Insurance Customer Journey

Forty-six percent of consumers cite customer experience as a top factor when selecting an insurance provider. However, providers are often bogged down by legacy tooling and a need for more development resources to innovate at an acceptable pace for their customers.

“There are 10 major companies just in the Netherlands competing for customers’ health insurance, with a big four controlling 80% of the market. It’s a highly competitive sector,” said Age-Pieter Kamermans, Manager of Customer Experience at ONVZ.

ONVZ is a premium health insurance provider serving over 420,000 individuals across the Netherlands. “Since we are below the big four, it’s hard to compete from a resource perspective and provide a better customer experience. We needed to shorten our time to market if we wanted to implement software changes that would impact our customer journey,” he continued.

In 2022, ONVZ began investigating new development approaches. They selected the Mendix low-code platform and have since delivered five applications, modernizing legacy customer and broker touchpoints.

CX Hinges on System Differentiation

ONVZ provides premium offerings for niche customer groups through its sub-brands – ONVZ and VvAA Zorgverzekering. “Even with our premium offerings, you still have to invest if you want to differentiate on personalization or platform usability,” said Kamermans.

Shifting regulatory requirements, customer expectations, and the launch of new sub-brands presented the need for frequent system updates, which IT was often unable to address at the desired pace. Anna Chernilovskaya joined the organization as CIO in 2021 and summarized the pain points that were hindering development and innovation:

  • Reliance on third-party providers for development, making solutions a “black box” for internal team members.
  • A lack of documentation on existing systems and development processes.
  • An unstructured and siloed system architecture with unknown dependencies.

“The catalyst was very clear,” said Jan-Dirk Rundervoort, Vendor Manager at ONVZ.

“It took too much effort in our legacy solutions that were based on .NET, C#, and Sitecore CMS. If we touched something, we could create issues in other parts of the solution,” he added.

Chernilovskaya wanted to bring control back into the hands of ONVZ’s lean IT team. She previously saw the benefits of a low-code platform in her past role with Dutch Railways, and saw an opportunity to bring the same technology and ways of working to ONVZ.

The Right Platform and Partner

In 2022, ONVZ began evaluating leading low-code platforms, such as Mendix and OutSystems, to support overhauling and rationalizing their customer-facing portals. “We needed a predictable platform that wouldn’t end up becoming legacy in another few years,” said Rundervoort.

Their requirements for a low-code platform included:

  • Supporting multi-disciplinary teams comprised of business and IT stakeholders.
  • Strong workflow capabilities that would make it easy to translate business requirements into digital processes.
  • A single platform for both web and mobile applications to minimize maintenance and rework.
  • Meeting strict regulatory and data requirements as part of the EU and European Economic Space.
  • End-to-end quality, testing, security, DevOps, and governance.
  • Appropriate licensing and pricing options for an organization of their size.

“We saw that if we wanted to close the gap between the business requirements and the IT development, then Mendix was the way to go,” said Rundervoort.

Their evaluation was multi-dimensional and broader than just a platform decision. “We were looking at the combination of technology and partner,” said Chernilovskaya.

“We are a quite small IT organization so it is imperative that we have a strategic partner that can help us to fill any gaps. We chose Emixa – it’s one of the best Mendix partners in the Netherlands. We were looking for a cultural fit and a partner that wanted to become embedded in our team and work together in our office.”

Improved Customer and Broker Experience

ONVZ selected its first project—revamping a B2B portal for brokers and intermediaries—based on its high value potential and relatively low risk.

“I was told that it would take 1.5 years to deliver an updated system with our traditional methods,” said Kamermans. This was just one of three portals that ONVZ needed to address. Furthermore, any new systems had to be delivered before the 2-month customer enrollment period began.

In the time it would have taken ONVZ to develop just one portal on their roadmap using high-code, they have developed 5 applications with Mendix. In addition to the B2B broker portal, these are:

  • A chat application, embedded in the B2B broker app to to guide users through the experience.
  • An onboarding portal which allows prospective customers to compare insurance policies, calculate premiums, and apply for insurance policies.
  • Rebuilt web and native mobile versions of MyEnvironment, ONVZ’s platform for customers to view policy information, submit and change declarations, view and change personal data, and access their health insurance card.
  • A background integration layer application.

The last 3 applications were developed in parallel between December 2022 and October 2023. Due to the speed afforded by Mendix, ONVZ was able to bring new features into MyEnvironment that previously would have taken too long to deliver or may have been discounted all together.

“One of the main features is the declaration of bills and the ability to see a bill’s associated insured person,” said David Fokker, Product Owner for MyEnvironment. “This was a request that came directly from customer feedback sessions and contributed to a better experience for them. We also streamlined how customers can arrange payments in MyEnvironment.”

In another instance, ONVZ was able to overhaul the historically manual process for expats to declare their exceptions. What once had to be routed as paper forms can be done digitally in their new Mendix application – and it was deployed in just 2-3 sprints.

“One of the main indicators of success was the acceptance grade of the application. In the first week that we were live around 98-99% of our customers were using the new app. That was great,” said Fokker. “The main thing I am really happy about is that in 11 months we made a new MyEnvironment app with Mendix.”

Change Management Principles for Success

ONVZ’s early success isn’t just a result of having a best-in-class technology platform at their disposal. It is a testament to their change management strategy and enlisting the right people to aid them in their journey.

“Adopting any new platform starts with a clear transition of what we are going to do and why,” said Chernilovskaya. “Our internal teams understood that we had to make a change – but it’s still a big change. We wanted to take people along on this journey who were eager to learn.”

The transition to Mendix development also marked a new working culture within ONVZ. The platform fit perfectly with working in Agile and multi-disciplinary teams. Furthermore, Chernilovskaya looked at this as an opportunity to encourage more in-office participation in a post-COVID world.

“These teams work from the office two days a week, and what I really like is that they all sit next to each other when they come in. If you didn’t know them, you wouldn’t be able to tell who was from marketing or content or UX design or development,” she said.

“When we made the transition to multi-disciplinary teams, everyone was so focused on their own role, and it worked perfectly,” said Fokker. “We had a real process from beginning to end. The focus from the whole company was to make the transition to Mendix and get it right. It was a really smooth transition.”

When Kamermans’ marketing team members were hesitant about their increased participation in the software development process, his messaging on low-code and Agile work was clear. This was:

  • the future of the organization.
  • an opportunity to enrich their existing skillsets.
  • critical in becoming a more customer-centric organization.

“One of my young marketers was so enthusiastic that she actually transitioned to a full-time Mendix developer,” said Kamermans. “I lost her to IT, but it was a good thing because this was a promise of the Mendix platform, and it came true.”

With Mendix, the IT organization can broaden the horizons of where they find new development talent.

“You can find other types of developers from the market and they can learn Mendix very quickly, which is a huge difference compared to what we had before,” said Chernilovskaya.

Enlisting a partner also helped to supplement ONVZ’s expertise, fast-track early success, and allow the team of new Mendix developers to learn from true experts.

“Emixa was a really good partner for us to work with because they had a ton of experience with Mendix. They are really proactive in taking things on and ensuring the quality of development. We still have some Emixa folks on the teams today, and they are great,” said Fokker.

One of those team members is Maud van den Boomen, a Mendix Business Engineer from Emixa. “I look back with a lot of pride at what ONVZ and Emixa have achieved together over the last two-and-a-half years,” said van den Boomen.

“We have completed several complex Mendix projects together, including successful integrations to DigiD and eHerkenning, as well as a multi-label app and MyEnvironment app, which feature unique branding. The strong cooperation and multi-disciplinary teams have contributed greatly to this success.”

A Competitive Edge in Insurance

On what’s next for ONVZ, the team is focused on further scaling out their Mendix practice and their customer impact. The team plans to implement more self-service options in their B2B and B2C solutions, both to improve customer resolution time and decrease customer cases for their back-office teams.

Today, Mendix has a defined place within the rationalized and future-ready ONVZ IT landscape. Business and IT are operating more closely than ever before, decreasing their time to market and development costs.

“I was surprised that changing to a low-code platform could give you such a competitive advantage. In the past, changing a system like this would be a real challenge for the business, especially in that transitional period,” said Kamermans.