June 8, 2016
Checklist for Improving Consumer Experience
by Francis Dion
Here’s a quick checklist of things CIOs can focus on today to start improving the consumer experience.
Chief information officers (CIOs) are responsible for decisions and implementations that promise to deliver on enterprise goals. A CIO’s job is not only to invest in projects that are going to improve and streamline a company’s internal processes but to keep an eye out for initiatives and capabilities that will keep them ahead of industry shifts — shifts that can potentially challenge the company’s core business. Increasingly, improving customer engagement to promote loyalty and drive growth is becoming important to most insurers.
Understanding the scope of the process, where to begin and how to monitor progress remains problematic, so here’s a quick checklist of things CIOs can focus on today to start improving the consumer experience:
Start from the customer’s perspective —
- Know who your customers are comparing you against:
Keep in mind (and remind your colleagues, whether they are in senior management or in the mail room) that consumers are not comparing you solely with other insurance companies. They are also comparing you with the other places they do business — and that includes online businesses (Amazon, for example).
- Understand what their expectations are.
Here is a reality check: No consumer will be thrilled to fax a wet-signed renewal application. Although there are good historical and legacy system justifications for demanding it, this is no longer acceptable for today’s consumers, who rightly demand immediacy.
- Meet them where they are… or will be.
Online is outdated; mobile is the new norm. You need to be thinking about how even mobile devices will be replaced by something newer and greater. In an age where cars can drive themselves and televisions are ”smart,” how much harder do you think it will be to sell insurance?
Follow up by looking at things from your employees’ point of view.
- What skills do your product development and marketing teams possess?
They most likely know a whole lot about insurance — its concepts, how to make it work from a business perspective and even how to present it to customers. Chances are, however, they are not versed in software engineering and technical concepts or tools.
- What tools are employees familiar with and which do they use in their daily work?
Can tools like Word, spreadsheets, email and interactive shared drives or repositories be leveraged?
- How much IT engineering goes into translating a product vision into actual products (forms and online/offline interactions, whether direct or through agents and brokers)?
If you are like most carriers, once an insurance offering has been defined on the business side (product, marketing, claims, legal), IT steps in. How much time and money do you spend recreating what was already done in Microsoft Office? Would it not be more efficient if the subject matter experts were able to handle more of the load on their own?
See also: Keen Insights on Customer Experience
Take it all in from a systems and processes perspective.
- What core systems do you have in place today?
It is a safe bet that you have many systems in place, many of which overlap or are similar in features and purpose.
- When — and how — are you going to consolidate, upgrade or replace those systems?
Realistically, this will take time. A long time. Probably too long to afford waiting for it to be done.
- Look for plug-and-play capabilities and opportunities for an enhanced experience that do not force you to throw away all of your investments.
At the end of the day, you have a lot of smart people in your organization. Listen to what your customers are telling you, empower your people by removing extraneous and overly technical steps and look for ways to enhance your company’s communication capabilities without having to start everything over from scratch.