We have written about the key challenges that insurance carriers are facing. Winning insurtechs are those that tap into these challenges to accelerate digital transformation. In this post, we'll focus on the first of seven different flavors of winners in fintech insurance: insurtechs that drive superb customer engagement.
Customer engagement leaves much to be desired
Most insurers still have low Net Promoter Scores. In spite of all the efforts and investments in the last years, customers continue to experience a lot of friction throughout the customer journey. And what is even more challenging, rising consumer expectations are more and more difficult to meet. The frame of reference is set, not by the service offered by other insurers, but by what customers experience when they reach out to other brands, for instance when using their smart phone.
See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 1)
There are a bunch of reasons why customer engagement is the first flavour we are exploring in this blog series. We believe customer engagement is the key to turning digital transformation efforts into a lasting competitive advantage:
Address the pain points
- Customer engagement is the key to build trust
This is what research told us: Trust is built by excelling in the daily provision of services. Touch point performance, the perceived quality of customer-facing employees, the ease of doing day-to-day business are the most important elements in building or reinforcing trust.
- Customer engagement offers new points of differentiation
Because virtually every financial institution is simplifying its product range and individual products, it will become increasingly difficult to differentiate from competitors on a product level. Consequently, the points of differentiation of financial services will shift to the way the company engages with customers, e.g. in service and customer experience.
- Service is becoming a much more important purchase driver
In the past, you shared your thoughts and experiences with your neighbors over your backyard fence. Nowadays, people exchange their thoughts and experiences also over a virtual fence powered by smart phones and social media. Peer-to-peer information sharing is almost always about the service quality. This has a huge impact on our decision-making. We are less and less choosing solely on price any more; more and more we are -- within a certain price bracket -- choosing on service. Service is becoming a much more important purchase driver.
- Lack of customer engagement results in loss of value
Every day, thousands of insurance and financial products are purchased that do not completely match the needs of the customer. The cancellation rate in life insurance is proof of this. Sunk costs include billions of euros in intermediation costs and, even more importantly, of course, huge loss of value for customers.
- Customer engagement is a primary source of profit
Ample research shows that customers who have had real positive experiences will drive revenues and profit in a variety of ways. They are more open to other products of that company. They will be less sensitive for offers from competitors. The costs to serve will decrease. And the customers are more likely to advocate your services to friends and family.
- New entrants set new standards to engagement
Not all new entrants will survive, but they will definitely set new standards. Despite the fact that they differ quite a lot in nature, they have one thing in common. Every new entrant is attacking the frictions and complex processes that customers have to deal with when working with financial institutions. Incumbents need to step up to the plate to keep up.
- Regulators scrutinize how the industry engages with customers
During the first couple of years "after Lehman," the various supervisory authorities have focused on the way money was made, and the quality of financial products. We now see that that focus has widened to just about every aspect of customer engagement: sales, advice, service, even advertising. Regulators are forcing insurers to have a 360-degree view of customer engagement to treat customers fairly.
The challenge is to close the gap between the insurer and the customer. Moving from transaction to interaction, from one-way communication to a dialogue and from interaction to intimacy, taking the dialogue from exchanging information to actions.
Too often, customer engagement is mistaken for creating a Disney-like experience. We think the opportunities are much closer to home. In our work for insurers, we have learned that customers across the globe more or less experience the same pain points:
- "They do not really know me. They do not understand my situation."
- "I am not convinced they act in my best interest."
- "They do not treat me nicely. I don’t think they would walk the extra mile."
- "Their information confuses me."
- "They don’t make it easy for me."
- "I am not sure what I’m covered for and what the overlap with other policies is."
- "It is not clear what the status of my claim is."
- "I am not sure what I am exactly paying for; it seems very expensive."
- "It takes ages to get an answer. And too often I’m not getting any."
- "What the call agent says is different from what the broker told me."
- "They don’t treat me fairly."
Just imagine what would be accomplished in terms of customer engagement if all these pain points were solved.
Furthermore, insurance is still about averages, products, one-size-fits-all, paper, brokers and agents – which is not always in sync with changing customer preferences and what technology is able to. In fact, we notice that customer engagement technologies that are widely accepted in other industries are still hardly used in insurance.
Take the use of video. Research shows that only 7% of a conversation is about words, 38% is about tone of voice and 55% is about body language. We have seen quite a few successful WebEx implementations; e.g. bank employees who assist customers in the complex process of purchasing a mortgage, with application-to-proposal conversion rates increasing from 10% to 35%, and proposal-to-signed contract from 50% to 75%.
Another no-brainer is the use of YouTube channels to explain what customers should do when a particular event takes place. These channels are extremely effective to explain more complex consumer electronic products but are hardly used in insurance. Think of the application of social data to simplify the underwriting and onboarding process of new customers and consequently higher conversion rates, or to login to certain information to simplify the customer experience. Or take the poor state of FAQs at many insurers’ websites, while a company such as Zendesk is able to launch a tailored state-of-the-art solution in just a few weeks and at very low costs.
The Tripolis communication platform allows companies to take personalization to a next level, deploying real-time relevant dynamic content in, for instance, email campaigns. Customers receive personalized real-time information and offerings that anticipate their context, the time of day, where they are – not when the email is sent, but at the moment the email is opened. Obviously, this improves the impression of a one-to-one intimate relationship with the brand. While the use of such solutions is increasing fast in other industries; this is hardly the case in insurance.
Fortunately, more and more insurtechs are helping insurers to make a leap in customer engagement, to become much more effective in every step of the customer journey.
And, of course, we also see new entrants that are attacking specific frictions, complex processes and product and pricing imperfections that customers have to deal with when working with insurance companies. Trendwatching.com coined the term Clean Slate Brands: a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of business 3.0 -- newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive. Brands that consumers are therefore attracted to, also because they cannot have sinned yet.
See also: Insurtech: Unstoppable Momentum
A line-up of 10 insurtechs that drive superb customer engagement in various stages of the customer journey:
PolicyGenius addresses the uncertainty of consumers with regard to gaps and overlaps in the various policies they hava purchased over time. PolicyGenius offers a highly tailored insurance check-up platform, where consumers can discover their coverage gaps and review solutions for their exact needs. PolicyGenius’ online store includes solutions from life and long-term disability to pet insurance. Quoting engines offer side-by-side comparisons of tailored policies.
Trov offers customized home insurance by allowing coverage of individual key items rather than a one-size-fits-all coverage set with average amounts. An app-based platform allows customers to discover and track the real-time value of their belonging. They simply upload the items they own to a digital locker, by scanning a product UPC code, entering an auto VIN number or a home address or looking up individual items in an in-app database. Trov (backed by leading fintech VC Anthemis) has partnered with a wide variety of proprietary data sources like Zillow (U.S. real estate), Blackbook (U.S. autos) and Symantics3 (global consumer products).
Erste Digital taps into the fast-growing use of social media and mobile to purchase products and services – quite neglected by traditional insurance companies. Erste Digital is a B2B digital broker platform selling "add on" insurance. The Scan2Insure mobile app allows customers to scan a barcode to instantly get a quote to insure the product. To sell through social media channels, Erste Digital has integrated the platform into YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
BIMA offers micro-insurance in 14 emerging markets in Africa, Latam and Asia, using a mobile-delivered model. Traditional insurance companies find it difficult to service those living on less than $10 per day. And that is a shame, because insurance is a powerful tool that can prevent families from falling back into poverty in case of illness and injury. BIMA gives customers access to micro-insurance that is paid for using prepaid mobile credit or postpaid billing. Policies start from $0.23 per month, and BIMA pays out within three days of receiving a claim. Today, BIMA serves more than 18 million customers.
Recently, BIMA decided to enter the health sector. In emerging markets, people need to travel far and spend many hours in waiting rooms to see a physician. BIMA’s mobile health services make it easy, quick and affordable to access medical advice from a qualified doctor via a tele-doctor service. Memberships are available in three, six or 12 month pre-paid packages and include an unlimited number of phone consultations with a qualified doctor for the whole family.
More about BIMA’s fascinating business model in one of our next posts.
Cuvva introduced a mobile app that enables the user to sign up, get a quote and buy coverage in less than 10 minutes. Quite different than what customers have to experience when they apply at the average insurance firm. Basically, a completely digital experience run from a smartphone. What is also addressing a customer need is that Cuvva gets customers covered for only as long as they need it; from a single hour to a whole day – rather than the usual single option of a year.
Another imperfection, at least in the eyes of customers, is the costs of deductibles. insPeer allows users to share insurance deductibles with their friends and family members.
Collision damage waiver and loss damage waiver on rental vehicles are also always expensive. Insuremyrentalcar provides the solution with a package that starts from $5 a day to $93.99 a year.
Embroker says it aims "to revolutionize the way businesses buy, manage and understand insurance." The company combines the service and expertise of the best-in-class brokers with an innovative technology platform. The 100% online solution allows customers to optimize insurance spending with policy benchmarking tools and provides a real-time interface to track and manage claims, apart from many other beneficial features.
Claim Di and Snapsheet are both all about making the most important moment of truth of a car insurance, when an accident takes place and the claim process that follows, less of a hassle.
The Claim Di mobile app "shake and go" feature facilitates communication and claims between parties in an auto accident and their insurance companies. The drivers can shake the phone near the phone of another party who also uses Claim Di, allowing for an insurance claim without waiting for a surveyor from their respective insurance companies to arrive at the scene (which is common practice in Thailand). Claim Di also includes roadside assistance, a call service for insurance companies and a module to facilitate payment to claimants.
Snapsheet provides insurers the process and technology to optimize virtual claims operations. Claims adjusters get the tools they need to provide a seamless experience; a mobile solution enables customers of insurers to settle a claim completely virtually. The solution simplifies claims adjusting, reduces the cycle time and increases customer satisfaction. Consequently, Snapsheet’s solutions are transforming claims organizations into a customer-first experience and cost-efficient operation.
Bauxy’s offerings takes away hassle and frustrations in a very different way. They enable consumers to file their claims just by taking a photo of the invoice. No more queuing on the phone to talk with insurance company call agents, asking when the money will be reimbursed and getting frustrated in the process. Bauxy submits the claim on the consumer’s behalf.
What these insurtechs have in common is that they cut two ways. On the one hand they solve frictions and dramatically improve customer engagement. On the other hand, they simultaneously improve operational efficiency. In our view, this is what makes an insurtech a winner.
In our next post we will focus on the second flavor of winners in fintech insurance; insurtech solutions for dramatic cost savings. So stay tuned!