Tag Archives: future trends 2018

New Customer Decision Models

Spring is here … but for many parts of the U.S. you would not know it!  Many are making decisions to wear their gloves, hoping they still fit!

For insurance, the dawning of a “new spring” is here, as well: Digital Insurance 2.0. But for many, it does not fit well with their current business model, products, processes and more. They are grounded in Insurance 1.0.

The shift from Insurance 1.0 to Digital Insurance 2.0 is rapidly intensifying as we move aggressively into the digital age. And where the business models of the past 20 to 30 years, represented by Insurance 1.0, were resilient for their time, they will not meet the needs or expectations and customer decision models represented by Digital Insurance 2.0.

The point of purchase is a pivotal moment in the customer and insurer relationship. It is where insurer growth happens (or doesn’t). It is where customer loyalty begins (or doesn’t). It is where prospects release their misgivings and hand themselves over to insurer care and service (or decide to look elsewhere).

Insurers certainly recognize many of the benefits of meeting a new digital age with customized, personalized customer engagement that leverages digital technologies to create seamless customer journeys. However, at the heart of the purchase process is the moment of decision. And Insurance 1.0 hasn’t kept pace with an understanding of how people make decisions. Digital Insurance 2.0 models will dramatically improve purchase decisions by catering to decision motivators and triggers.

See also: 4 Insurers’ Great Customer Experiences  

In our recent report, Future Trends 2018: Catalyzing the Shift to Digital Insurance 2.0, we look at the behavioral reasons related to insurance purchase decisions that should act as digital motivators for insurers. We begin with a look at why traditional Insurance 1.0 purchasing may actually be reinforcing bad decisions and behaviors.

Insurance 1.0 doesn’t work well with how customers make decisions

In our Future Trends 2017 report, we explained how customers’ decisions and behaviors are not always driven by rational thought or the desire to maximize utility, as we were taught in traditional economics classes. The rapidly emerging field of behavioral economics helps explain some of the seemingly perplexing and, frankly, “bad” decisions people make about important matters like insurance. Traditional insurance practices, though certainly valuable, may contain some questionable motivational detractors at the point of purchase and service. For example:

  • Are prospects ever confused with their insurance options, their actual coverages or their best routes to service?
  • Are customers ever hampered from making a final decision by some hurdle presented during the sales process, such as additional requirements that may take time to present?
  • Are customers ever encouraged to be “good” customers in uniquely new ways that will remove any future desire to make fraudulent claims?
  • Are customers too often left “on their own,” with no personalization or automation to help them through the decision-making process?

A number of new Digital Insurance 2.0 entrants, and some established insurers that are creating new business models, are leveraging behavioral economics principles, in addition to an array of technologies like cloud, digital, mobile, AI/cognitive, IoT and data/analytics to facilitate better decisions for both the customer and the company.

Psychological motivators and digital facilitators

Here are just a few use cases to illustrate the intersection of Digital Insurance 2.0 and behavioral economics in the decision process”

  • Lemonade customers pick a charity to receive premiums left over after claims, creating a further commitment to that charity and a desire to be claim-free for the good of the entire customer population. At the beginning of any claim submission, Lemonade customers also sign an “honesty pledge,” creating a commitment and desire.
  • Friendsurance uses a peer-to-peer model to create commitment among group members to avoid claims so the group can share in rebates or lower premiums. This can only be accomplished through a digital framework.
  • InsurePeer allows individuals to reduce their premiums by recruiting others (e.g. friends, family) to vouch for their risk-worthiness in exchange for “InsurePal Tokens” – but there is also a financial penalty if an at-fault claim is filed.
  • Insurers (existing and new) present customers with several coverage options during the shopping process and position certain choices as ones that “other people like you chose…” to encourage the shopper to make a decision.

Some of these behavioral motivators could possibly be managed without a digital process, but none of them are. They are all firmly rooted in a digital model for quick and easy decision-making that captures the essence of the human desire to be committed, consistent and informed.

The Motivation Equation

The Fogg Behavior Model, developed by BJ Fogg, the director of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, lends a simple formula to insurers for making sense of digital services and offerings. While the model incorporates elements of behavioral economics, it consists of just three components: motivation, ability and triggers, all of which have to occur in the same moment for a behavior to occur.

Fogg’s model highlights an inverse relationship between motivation and ability. If someone has low ability for a behavior (e.g. a snail mail paper application and service process), a high level of motivation is needed (plus a trigger) to make a behavior happen. Similarly, if someone has low motivation for a behavior (e.g. “I’m marginally satisfied with my current insurer”), whoever wants them to cause a behavior must make it extremely easy (and provide the right trigger). By using this model as a lens for how people make insurance decisions, it reveals the many weaknesses of Insurance 1.0 models that Digital Insurance 2.0 models can exploit.

Unfortunately for those companies firmly entrenched in Insurance 1.0, there aren’t any effective deliberate triggers for low-motivation and low-ability scenarios. This is the dynamic that Insurance 1.0 operates in with many customers: They are not very interested in nor engaged with insurance (motivation), and they think it is not easy to do business with (ability). The implication for Insurance 1.0 players is that it will likely be very difficult to encourage their customers to engage in desired behaviors, like purchasing additional policies, signing up for services (e.g. electronic billing), using the company’s app, not submitting fraudulent claims or getting satisfied customers to switch from another carrier.

Insurtech startup ClearCover has staked its position on this concept and market realization. The business model is set up to piggyback on customer-originated triggers like life events and in-progress insurance shopping, to create motivation through low price (by avoiding high marketing spending) and to enhance ability through an easy research and purchase process.

In reality, many of the triggers that cause customers to engage in Insurance 1.0 behaviors are likely of the serendipitous type, caused by an event on the customer’s end. Commonly cited reasons for shopping and switching are examples of these triggers:

  • Trigger: Price increase or poor service
  • Motivation: high. Sensation: pain (anger, confusion, perceived unfairness)
  • Ability: Low. Our research shows that researching and buying insurance is not easy, but motivation may be strong enough to overcome the lack of ability, especially if competitors make the experience extremely simple. This is a key focus for Digital Insurance 2.0 players.
  • Trigger: Life event (marriage, birth of a child, new home, starting a new business, etc.)
  • Motivation: high. Anticipation: fear (realization of what you could lose and desire to protect it)
  • Ability: Low. Again, as our research shows, insurance researching and buying is not easy, especially for those new to insurance (i.e. millennials, Gen Z).

In stark contrast, Digital Insurance 2.0 companies are using data, technology, platforms and processes to beat Insurance 1.0 models in all three components of the Fogg Behavior Model:

Digital Insurance 2.0 Triggers: Using new data sources, including location, activity and condition data from connected devices, combined with improving analytics and AI/cognitive computing, insurers can predict and respond in real time to occasions where people should be highly motivated to act. Using platform-based ecosystems, the trigger for insurance can even be embedded or “invisible” as part of another transaction or activity, like buying a house or an Uber driver picking up a passenger.

See also: Much Higher Bar for Customer Service  

Digital Insurance 2.0 Motivators: The data and analytics enable triggers that can “catch” customers before or during an event whose immediacy and context should result in higher motivation to act…or to not have to engage in an insurance-related behavior at all, in the case of a platform-based ecosystem.

Digital Insurance 2.0 Abilities: AI-driven apps radically simplify and speed insurance transactions like researching and buying insurance and filing claims. Platform-based ecosystems organize all relevant components of a customer’s journey into one place, including insurance, greatly simplifying the process by removing silos and embedding and streamlining tasks.

Digital Insurance 2.0 players, many from insurech, are effectively using these three attributes.

  • It was the combination of a life event trigger, high motivation and low ability that inspired Yaron Ben-Zvi to start Haven Life in an effort to simplify the process of choosing and buying life insurance.
  • Lemonade’s behavioral-economics-based model radically simplified, redesigned and sped up the insurance process, from buying to claims, positioning the company for growth.
  • PingAn’s model as an ecosystem platform has found opportunities to embed insurance within the purchase of other things, such as for shipping insurance of Alibaba purchases.

While these are just a representation, they highlight the fundamental differences in Digital Insurance 2.0 business model assumptions and approach, leveraging people and technology, to trigger, motivate and make it easy for customers to take action in buying insurance.

It may go without saying, but these digital enhancements to the research, purchase and service processes should also be accompanied by innovative ideas in product development and corresponding organizational transformation. However, now you can add at least one more compelling business reason to shift into the realm of Digital Insurance 2.0.

Not only is it the right move for the organization’s customer-first focus, but it is also a practical way to fill the sales pipeline with customers who will be better-informed, more loyal, likely more profitable and certainly more satisfied with the purchase process.

How to Innovate With Microservices (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this blog series, we shared how a microservices architecture can bring value to a constantly changing business environment. In this segment, we will share our views on the benefits of a microservices architecture for the insurance industry.The traditional insurance value chain and subsequently the customer experience over the last two-plus years has operated across a number of functional silos. Each of these silos has unique characteristics and is organized around its own KPIs. For example, underwriting/risk management is focused on risk assessment, underwriting quality and booking of premium. Claims is focused on claims management, fraud detection, leakage reduction and processing turnaround time. Typically, each of these functions operates with limited organizational integration.

This organizational design is several decades old and inspired by Henry Ford’s assembly line innovation that optimizes processing costs through specialization and automation. This design has served insurance well during the industrial and information ages, leading to specialized functional IT systems targeting the business needs of the silo functions from underwriting to policy management, billing, claims and more. The core system components are integrated as a suite. The components and suite serve well-defined functions that have had less dynamic integration needs.

This organizational model and IT system landscape has been effective for decades. But as we enter the digital age, the painful and expensive business and IT modernization projects over the last decade, coupled with portals and complex integrations to these core systems to improve agent and customer experience, do not align with new market needs. Today’s insurance landscape demands agility to adapt with ease, innovation to reimagine the possibilities and speed to capture the opportunities. The digital age demands so much more to stay relevant and competitive.

Customer Experience is the Differentiator

Customer experience is front and center in differentiating insurers in the digital age. It is a key factor in driving higher customer acquisition and retention, which, in turn, drives growth. Customer experience is much more than offering a better user interface. It is about the customer journey that creates a unique, compelling and engaging experience that makes it “easy to do business” with insurers. Customer journeys must cut through functional silos, which are currently optimized for internal operational efficiency. These silos, however, as customer journeys are changing, are now contributing to the degradation of the customer experience. To design and refine customer journeys in today’s digital age, insurers will need to collect siloed capabilities into a new virtual capability designed to optimize the customer journey. This new virtual capability will require hyper-integration and micro-granularities of system capabilities to achieve the desired result.

See also: Insurance Hasn’t Changed, but… (Part 5)  

Insurance Value Chain Disrupted

As we highlight in our Future Trends 2018: Catalyzing the Shift to Digital Insurance 2.0 report, the insurance value chain is rapidly shifting to adapt to new business models, innovative products, expanded distribution channels, new competition with entrants from outside the industry, elevated customer expectations and emerging technologies.

Digital transformation is redefining the value chains and each component. New products such as on-demand products, connected products and micro-insurance are reshaping business assumptions and fundamentals. We are seeing innovative product design that uses new sources of data, new risk assumptions, micro-segmentation, expanded services, new customer engagement approaches and new channels to reach customers. These designs leverage new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive, analytics and microservices. The result is the disruption of the insurance value chain. With the value chain disrupted, the underlying systems must be disrupted, too.

Rise of Ecosystems and the Platform Economy

As we enter the digital age, the blurring of traditional industry boundaries is seeing the rise of ecosystems and the platform economy. Companies like Apple, Alibaba, Google, Amazon and Facebook are at the forefront of this shift. They are using an ecosystem with connected services from different parties to create a seamless customer experience.

An ecosystem is the DNA of the platform economy, enabling a business model to exchange and share value among its partners and customers. To meaningfully participate in the platform economy, insurers must embrace ecosystems and be prepared to partner with competitors, other industries and innovative technology-based service providers. ZhongAn, an online Chinese insurer, generated 70% of its 2017 car insurance premium in one month (January 2018) by using AI and big data with the ecosystem, including carmakers, dealers, after-sales service providers and lenders that created market reach and a loyal customer base. The ecosystem approach eliminates traditional industry or organizational boundaries in designing products and creating a new customer journey. However, it necessitates the need for a flexible and granular system composed of different services running on different technology platforms that can easily integrate with any ecosystem.

A New System Paradigm for the Digital Age

A common theme is emerging that highlights the need for a new set of capabilities to support the paradigm shift. To succeed, let alone survive, insurers will need to respond to the value chain disruption, elevated customer expectations and the rise of the ecosystem and platform economy by using granular (single responsibility principle) API/microservices to build an on-demand business solution with loosely coupled microservices and find-n-bind capabilities that can leverage any ecosystem.

A microservices architecture enables the building of new capabilities to meet these needs. The graphic below contrasts the anatomy of a traditional “pre-digital age” monolith insurance app and a “digital age” innovative microservices-based insured app.

Today’s monolith insurance systems, although partially accessible through APIs, are built as a large deployable monolith unit. This architecture does not easily adapt to the rapid pace of change because the change is to a large-system single codebase and specific localized API. A separate API layer exposed over the single-monolith code base makes it difficult to integrate with ecosystem partners as well as making it extremely complex to orchestrate services across various systems or apps.

In contrast, a microservices architecture decomposes a large unit into fine-grained single purpose, self-contained and independently deployable business services that enable the ability for rapid change and open the possibility of multiple change deployments daily instead of waiting for the periodic release cycle. Using microservices across various apps, insurers can orchestrate a composite user interface that is a tailor-made customer journey. It can be enhanced quickly based on customer feedback. The graphic below shows how a microservices architecture can assist in the design of a unique customer experience using a product offering and ecosystem.  Multiple customer journeys can be assembled by orchestrating functional microservices and ecosystem services available outside the insurer enterprise.

The times are changing. And it is exciting! The ability to leverage powerful microservices architecture to build a new foundation for the digital age of insurance is game-changing. It will enable new business models, new products, refined customer experiences and timely responses to new business needs (in hours and days instead of months and years), and it will help insurers remain relevant and competitive. While microservices is exciting and will accelerate the industry’s ability to innovate, it is not the Holy Grail. The smaller, focused services have many advantages but also create complexity in the orchestration of those services. Employing best practices in designing microservices size and data model sizing is critical. Most importantly, determining the gradual transition to microservices rather than a big-bang approach will help insurers build a platform that can withstand the test of time and constant change to help insurers participate in the digital age and platform economy with agility, innovation and speed.

See also: It’s Time to Accelerate Digital Change  

In Part 3, we look forward to covering our views on best practices in introducing and scaling microservices within the world of the monolith IT system environment. We encourage you to read our thought leadership, Cloud Business Platform: The Path to Digital Insurance 2.0, to gain a deeper insight on these topics. Please share your views on this exciting topic in the comments section. We would enjoy hearing your perspective.

This article was written by Manish Shah and Sachin Dhamane.