For 50-odd years, the way insurance has worked has remained the same. But in the last few years, catalysed by the pandemic, the rise of digital solutions and insurtech looks to break down historical insurance preconceptions have emerged.
Whether or not you agree that insurtechs and incumbents should live in harmony and work with one another, one thing remains certain: the emergence of insurtech and digitisation within the sector has impacted customer expectations. But how? And what is the best way a player in the sector can respond?
We reached out to the industry to hear their views.
No time to be idle
One of the biggest issues that emerged within the incumbent insurance industry was the length of time it took for decisions to be made. The process took weeks, and in some cases even months. Amber McCullough VP, strategy and insights at empatiX Consulting, the data analysts broke down how digitisation’s impact on decision-making has been completely game-changing.
“Digitisation in the insurance space has changed the pacing of everything into real-time. There is an expectation of zero lag time, to the consumer, there is no time to be idle when they have digital tools at their fingertips that can help to solution for everything that they need. Insuretechs can improve on customer engagement by following through on the promises that they made with the customer– making the experience faster and more efficient, helping to serve them in one easy interaction.
“More advanced human service interactions should only be needed when the requests become too complicated. The tech should really be able to run everything else. Consumers have ultimately come to expect quite a lot from technology, but insurance companies have a lot to gain by addressing their needs and surpassing their expectations with technology that works when they when, and how they want it, without any complications.”
Accessing any point of a customer’s insurance journey
Dan Cicchetti, senior director, client engagement, insurance, LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK and Ireland, analysed how digitisation has enabled insurers to access any point in a customer’s insurance journey: “We are living in a world in which everything from the newest gadget to holidays are researched and booked online.
“Netflix knows our TV show and film preferences and Amazon can suggest the next book to download. Consumers want similar, personalised, no fuss, digital first experiences when they buy and claim on their insurance.
“It comes down to knowing more about the customer and the asset up front through data. Today, insurance providers could access it at any point in the insurance lifecycle. A 360-degree view of their customer based on every interaction they have previously had with them, enhanced with industry-contributed data on their policy history and granular claims history. They can also see their quote history and access details on the insured asset such as the car’s ADAS fitments or the perils risk to a property, all alongside public data.
“Connected devices also offer the potential for automation and engagement. Smart devices can already detect escape of water to help identify a problem before it becomes a huge loss. Take Leakbot from Ondo as an example.
“Data, advanced analytics and technology providers such as LexisNexis Risk Solutions help make innovation happen in insurance. We provide the insights so that insurance providers, new and established, can better understand their market and engage with customers more effectively to improve the customer journey, while better understanding the risk.”
Providing the instant response expected in the modern day
A sentiment similar to that of Cicchetti was provided by Yaniv Hakim, founder and CEO CommBox, the CX platform. Hakim said: “Thanks to the digitisation of retail, work and social life, customer expectations have risen dramatically in all fields.
“Customers expect to communicate using their preferred channels like messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, SMS texting, social media platforms, and receive an instant response from the customer support agent.
“Personalisation is becoming crucial, as most consumers today also expect brands to provide personalised experiences across digital channels.
“Recent studies show that 90 per cent of customers rather buy from brands that offer personalized experiences, 77 per cent will recommend these brands, and 60 per cent of consumers will become repeat buyers after a personalised purchasing experience. These facts make personalisations a must-have for every brand across industries, and require companies to adopt advanced communication tools to keep up the pace in this dynamic environment.”
Raising the bar for customer expectations
Ultimately, customers expectations have not changed when it comes to good customer service. Saira Taneja chief experience officer at Cover Whale, the insurance provider explained how digitisation has enabled insurers to do more. In turn, raising these standards.
“The insurance industry has historically lagged in its use of technology but, digitisation is transforming ways insurance carriers and insurtechs are conducting business. Digitisation has enabled connecting more closely with customers, improving access to coverage, process transparency, personalisation, and most importantly speed.
“Nevertheless, insurtechs must continue to improve customer engagement by building products with the end user(s) in mind. Building without having the user at the forefront won’t result in a compelling customer experience. It is foundational that insurtechs define the user and understand their pain points. Furthermore, they need to obsess over the details and incorporate user feedback at every step, iteratively.
“Cover Whale has implemented customer engagement strategies to further understand its users and their needs. Its interactive and constantly-monitored online quoting and binding platform is considered the easiest, fastest and most agent-friendly interface in the commercial auto insurance space.
“More than 5,000 agents quote, bind, and manage their clients’ policies throughout the lifecycle using the platform. Our razor focus on removing both friction and waste from the insurance buying process is something agents and policyholders demand and deserve.”
Finding the right partner is a must
Personalisation has become a very common buzzword in the fintech sphere in the last few years. This is almost entirely due to digitisation. The ability to use technology to provide offers and services which previously would not have been available was the main way customer expectations had changed according to Michael Combs, president and CEO at CorVel Corporation, the healthtech organisation.
“The technology changes we’ve experienced in the last 20 years have been incremental and constant. Consequently, the speed of business has increased dramatically with technological advancements. For instance, it wasn’t long ago that aggregating data for end-of-year, quarter or monthly reporting took weeks to complete.
“The slow rate at which information was available constrained the ability to respond to evolving business dynamics. The delays lengthened the time it took to determine if adjustments made to operating parameters were having the desired effect.
“With digitalisation, the feedback loop for assessing, adjusting, and analysing results has compressed from months to, in many cases, minutes. Therefore customers expect data aggregation to occur in real-time and for information analysis to happen quickly.
“The competitive landscape has changed; customers are increasingly seeking strategic partners that, in addition to providing valuable services, can leverage technology to glean actionable insights from the combined operational and industry data.
“The most meaningful progress is made with partners who engage at a consultative level. Each business is unique, and customers desire vendors willing to invest the time necessary to become the most valued and trusted partners.”
Both businesses and customers have been reshaped by digitisation
Gary Session SVP, client success management at Exdion Solutions broke down what customers are expecting in the modern day. But he also analysed how businesses can benefit from these changing expectations: “While digital-driven interactions are the norm for business-to-consumer commerce, the business-to-business space can lag, especially in paper and labor-intensive sectors like insurance.
“Yet, the expectations of the business customer have also risen. They may be frustrated by delays due to manual processing, analysis done by employees instead of computers, and long waits in getting quotes. There is also a concern about data that is analysed by humans being prone to error, and the liabilities that can incur when someone does make a mistake or overlooks one seemingly insignificant piece of information, with disastrous consequences.
Here’s what today’s customers expect:
- A strong online presence – they can quickly find what they need and can initiate and complete their transaction rapidly.
- Support from multiple channels – phone, desktop, laptop, and other mobile devices. AI-powered personal assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and smart watches are growing in popularity as sources of information.
- Fast and accurate responses to inquiries and problems – no lengthy phone trees only to get a message to leave a message.
- It’s personal – they can quickly get responses to their issue and the person they are talking to understands their problem.
- It’s granular – they can get comprehensive advice, offerings and answers that are customised and tailored.
- It’s smart – AI, automation and big data should be used to anticipate questions and problems, and to hone in on solutions.
- It’s secure – cybersecurity will be a top priority.
- It’s easy on employees – they can be freed from hours of manual paper-pushing, enabling them to focus on customer services. And smarter, automated services means the customers they do talk to are happier.
B2B enterprises will capture unique benefits from digitisation
- Besides providing the improved experience that customers expect, businesses can use digitalisation to gather important data that will inform them about customer needs and preferences, and also problems in manufacturing, service, and marketing.
- They can use this insight and modernised technology to capitalise on market trends and capture profitable niches.
- Data will enable them to predict customer needs and analyse buying processes and patterns.
- They will reap new benefits from their data, insights that will allow them to be more competitive and efficient.
- Insurance professionals can expand their consultative role as risk specialists, providing a deeper level of invaluable advice for clients.”