Tag Archives: user experience

Raising the Bar on User Experience

Industries all over the world have faced a digital renaissance. Companies like Amazon and Uber have grabbed the markets with amazing user interfaces (UI) and bespoke user experiences (UX), pushing them to the top of their game.

Now imagine a world where insurance is effortless, something that tirelessly works in the background while you enjoy your everyday life. A world where insurance is easy, but, most importantly, a world where insurance is not intimidating. How do we ensure that?

Insurance, say hello to Advanced User Experience!

Is Now the Right Time?

Until now, the actual user has not been given the required importance in digital strategy planning. But responsive design has flourished over the past few years, giving birth to a new era of device friendliness. The web, as a whole, has experienced a shift in consciousness. Online services have become easier to use, apps have become more intuitive to navigate and products have been even more delightful and engaging to interact with (because this isn’t an episode of “Black Mirror”).

While a visually attractive user interface might be important, customers would rather get the right information delivered to them at the right time and through the right channel – whether they are researching, purchasing or servicing. Some work has been done by many insurers on customer journeys and persona mapping, but the true marriage of big data, deep learning technologies and behavioral analytics for a “here and now” experience has not been successfully achieved by most.

The influence of the retail industry is on every user – customer, home office staff and the field force. Users expect a “data-driven,” “contextual” and “simple” experience at the right time, at the right place and through the right medium. Insurers are realizing that true digital transformation not only takes into account the end customer experience but also requires an inclusive strategy for talent attraction and retention.

See also: 4 Ways to Improve Agent Experience  

In most of the current environments, the field force often struggles to find the right data in CRM and other systems of record, let alone use it quickly and effortlessly. Meanwhile, insurers are burdened with business silos, disparate technologies, form-driven user interfaces and limited analytics that keep their user experience in the dark ages. Keeping the lights on still takes priority, time and resources, hindering insurers’ ability to strategize and optimally implement transformative technologies to support business growth and sustain their competitive edge. Therefore, the need for digital transformation driven by design thinking is at an all-time high!

Let the Transformation Begin!

According to Gartner, artificial intelligence will be a mainstream customer experience investment in the next couple of years. 47% of organizations will use chatbots for customer care, and 40% will deploy virtual assistants.

Basic chatbots are a thing of the past. Can they sense the user sentiment in real time? No. Are they smart enough to understand complex insurance and wealth management terms contextual to the user? No. Are they capable of interjecting a home office staff in the process when necessary, while keeping the customer engaged in conversation? No. Are they capable of understanding drop patterns and immediately engage retention strategies? No.

Conversational platforms with natural language processing and deep learning algorithms are opening the doors to the next generation of virtual assistants. Domain-trained chatbots (type, click or voice), with intrinsic abilities to analyze customer sentiments in real time while funneling intelligence about the customer’s holistic portfolio and suitability make way for the new age customer experience. This is current conversational technology at its best, because it’s intuitive and empathetic.

In the next three to five years, interactive and immersive technologies (mixed reality) embedded into business operations will be a disruptive norm. Other forms of virtual assistants such as robotic process automation (RPA) have proven to reduce operating costs, enabling key resources to focus on complex scenarios and providing a way to scale without additional cost. When implemented with the right supporting technologies, RPA exceeds expectations by accurately deciphering structured and unstructured information contextually.

Let advanced technologies do all the heavy lifting. The end result?

We find ourselves with insurance that’s less intimidating, and more accessible – as we steer to a brighter future. A future where filing a claim doesn’t take longer than a voice request or a single click and agents have deep insights to better manage and grow their books of business. A future where user experience is all about the finer details, where exploring the virtual canvas is the norm and where simple day-to-day experiences inspire, engage and excite users in new and unexplored ways.

See also: Why Customer Experience Is Key  

What Next?

It becomes important for us to stay ahead of this digital transformation wave, because staying put is no longer an option!

6 Lessons in Trust From Retailers

When it comes to digital transformation, the insurance industry lags woefully behind other industries, and it is not just a question of technology. Even as the industry advances technologically, developing digital capabilities that rival other industries–from chatbots to IoT–selling insurance direct to consumers (DTC) has proved a difficult code to crack. Even Geico, the darling of online auto insurance sales, still closes the majority of its new policies on the phone, via an agent.

The retail ecommerce industry on the other hand has proven to us that there are very few things consumers are not willing to purchase on the internet. From buying groceries to booking airline tickets, consumers are comfortable conducting all kinds of transactions online, from the very simple to the most complex. Every day, millions of people even do their banking online. So what is the deal with insurance?

At Cake & Arrow, we have conducted hours upon hours of primary research in the insurance industry, talking to hundreds of consumers, carriers, agents and brokers in an effort to help our insurance clients answer this question and, in turn design better products and experiences. Throughout this process, we have learned a lot about how customers think and feel about insurance, perhaps our most lasting insight being a lesson about trust. The main reason consumers don’t want to buy insurance online directly through a carrier? They don’t trust insurance companies. This is why, even in the golden age of digital commerce, consumers continue to opt to purchase insurance through brokers and agents.

On the surface, fixing this problem may seem simple. All carriers need to do is to gain the trust of their customers, right? Easier said than done. While earning trust may seem like a simple enough idea, it is an issue most carriers don’t even know how to begin to tackle.

In my experience, when you want to learn to do something well, the best thing to do is to emulate an expert. In the case of consumer trust, it’s the retail e-commerce industry that has, over the past two decades, mastered the art of consumer trust. Each and every day, millions of transactions happen online, and most consumers don’t think twice about ordering their groceries, electronics, clothing, books and everything in between over the internet. This hasn’t always been the case! Gaining the trust of consumers has been a hard-won battle, and those who have done it well (Amazon) are ruling the industry. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, what lessons can the insurance industry learn from the retail industry that can help them foster trust with consumers and drive a truly digital offering?

1. Establish consistent workflows.

The retail industry has the benefit of a consistent process across products, stores and platforms. For the most part, everyone basically understands the standard steps in a checkout flow. Select your product, fill in your shipping and billing information and purchase. And while there are of course optimizations that can be made to make an experience better, in general, consumers know exactly what to expect when purchasing a product online.

The same cannot be said for insurance. Unlike a book or an item of clothing, insurance is not a static product sitting in a warehouse with a price tag. Insurance products are complex. Coverage and prices are variable based upon any number of risk factors, and complex underwriting rules and changing regulations can make it difficult for consumers to understand what exactly they are buying and how it is priced.

This leads to confusion in the process of quoting and buying insurance and to a lack of standardized practices across the board. From a user experience (UX) and design perspective, one of the first steps the industry can take toward gaining consumer trust is to simplify and standardize the quoting process so that consumers know what to expect when buying insurance online and understand each step of the process.

And while underwriting rules and regulations will need to be streamlined to establish an effective industry standard, insurance companies can start by being more transparent with users about what to expect in the quoting process, including informing users about how their personal information is being used. This will help customers better understand the quoting process, feel more comfortable dispensing with personal information and give them general confidence in the process by establishing clear expectations.

See also: Top 10 Insurtech Trends for 2018  

2. Invest in quality visual design.

Over the past two decades, we’ve seen retail ecommerce design evolve, following a general trend toward customer-centricity. Flash sites, cluttered home pages and flashy fonts have given way to clean, simple designs that streamline the shopping process, communicate the brand and are organized around customer needs, interests and behaviors.

The insurance industry needs to follow a similar path, leveraging user-validated design to create trust with customers. A modern, usable, well-designed website is a signal of legitimacy. It tells customers that a real company is behind a product, and this company cares enough about its customers to invest in the experience.

A strong visual design that implements best practices removes that cloud of doubt in the mind of a customer and builds confidence and pride in the end product. In the same way that a strong brand is a promise of quality, a great visual design is an early demonstration that a carrier cares enough about a customer to invest in a quality digital experience that will translate into a quality product.

3. Implement a killer content strategy.

Content strategy is just for news sites, magazines and blogs, right? Wrong. Content is an important piece of the sales process. For our retail clients, we have learned that crafting and executing a killer content strategy is critical to helping customers learn about a product, understand occasions for using products and gain insight into the actual value of a product. Effective education about products and services demonstrates a company’s willingness to keep its customers informed. And the more a customer feels he understands what a company does and what its products are about, the more he will trust it.

While we often see short marketing messages on insurance carriers’ sites, few insurance companies invest in content on their website to help explain to their customers the value of a product or the differences between products, and to educate them on when and where to use the product so they feel empowered when making purchasing decisions. Educational and informative recommendations will help insurance companies establish a rapport with consumers as a trusted adviser. Companies must even be willing to tell customers when a product isn’t right for them and demonstrate that they care about more than a sale, but about helping their customers make informed decisions that benefit them. A killer content strategy will help insurance companies do this effectively.

4. Enable the right level of customization.

The best retail experiences allow for just the right amount of customization. When buying clothing online, for instance, we can choose colors and sizes and have a choice of different delivery options. Subscription services like Trunk Club allow shoppers to input information about personal style preferences, including color and pattern preferences, set price points and decide on frequency to receive a custom selection of clothing recommendations when, where and however often they desire. This kind of customization breeds customer loyalty and, like a good content strategy, can help customers being to think of a company as a trusted adviser with their best interests in mind.

Insurance companies should explore enabling similar types of customization. While easy packages are just that–easy–they don’t drive stickiness with customers. Giving customers the ability to modify and tweak plans according to their unique needs and circumstances will drive a connection between a customer and a product. In the same way that these types of customizations breed loyalty in retail e-commerce customers, giving customers more control over choosing the kind of coverage they need at a price they can afford is a powerful way of building loyalty and competing with other carriers on something other than price.

And while enabling customization is important, it is really critical that companies don’t take things too far, allowing customers too much customization and, in the process, sacrificing the experience. In speaking recently with a carrier, I learned of a story of customization gone wrong. The carrier’s data showed that customers who were able to customize a package were more likely to purchase a policy. Emboldened by this piece of data, they created a new quoting page that allowed customers to customize every aspect of their policy. Lacking the qualitative info on how and why people were more likely to convert when customization was enabled and without user testing on the new custom design, they missed some essential information. Allowing their customers to customize everything about their policy made the experience overwhelming, and conversions ended up falling off significantly.

I tell this story as a reminder to companies that testing and validating every design decision with users is critical–and one of the reasons the e-commerce industry has been so successful at digital.

5. Play around with promotions.

Promotions are one of the most reliable and time-honored means of staying competitive for retailers. Promotions can make or break a business. Free shipping on big orders, Black Friday sales and BOGO (buy-one-get-one) offers are all commonplace in the retail e-commerce industry, and are incredibly effective at creating consumer loyalty and trust.

While, in the insurance industry, it is nearly impossible to offer dynamic pricing or let customers actually play with coverages to get a fully custom price due to regulations, discounting isn’t something to be overlooked. Bundling is a real thing, and customers are more likely to purchase a policy if they see a real deal–and understand its benefits.

For example, I’ve seen many insurers combine rental insurance with auto insurance at a discounted price. When customers see deals like this, they oftentimes don’t understand the full benefits of the deal. For example, they may not know that rental insurance protects not only their property but also against liability and, considering the coverage, is incredibly affordable. Developing a robust content strategy to better inform customers about deals and the benefits of coverage will not only increase sales and stickiness, but help customers begin to truly appreciate the value their insurance company is bringing to their lives.

6. Leverage user-generated content.

When shopping online and in store, we have come to rely on ratings and reviews to help us evaluate products and make purchasing decisions. User-generated content, such as Instagram posts of real customers wearing clothing or jewelry, can help us see how a dress might fit a certain body type or how a piece of jewelry looks in context. This level of transparency sends customers a clear message that as a company you have nothing to hide–further inspiring trust.

See also: Sharing Economy: The Concept of Trust  

Just like in retail, user-generated content can be integrated into your content strategy and can do the work of educating customers about your products–explaining the difference between certain coverage offers, for example, or why as a carrier you stand out from other companies offering similar products.

Real content generated by other customers helps customers understand how a certain policy works–what the service is like, what the claims process is like, what kinds of scenarios are covered. It can be scary to leave your company and offering open to negative user feedback, but, if you are doing your job, it will end up being more useful than it is harmful.

Insurance companies still face many hurdles to getting consumers to trust them and to earning the kind of rapport with customers that the retail industry has established over the years. Anything short of a truly standardized process across all carriers and products will continue to cause confusion and suspicion among customers. But there is nothing stopping insurance carriers from taking strategic steps toward customer-centricity, emulating more mature industries like retail e-commerce that have done it well.

This article first appeared on the Cake & Arrow website, here.

Hate Buying? Chatbots Can Help

If you wanted to buy health insurance, how would you do it? I’d probably Google “health insurance,” click on the first link (maybe skip the ads out of an irrational disdain) and reach a website that looks something like this:

Once I am here, I find that I am woefully unprepared to carry on. What is basic sum insured? Pre-hospitalization? Post-hospitalization? Convalescence benefit? Ideally, I would have known what all these terms meant before I started searching for insurance, but I didn’t.

Insurance providers such as HDFC Ergo know that many people don’t understand these terms and provide more information. In the picture above, clicking on the little circled “i’s” next to each plan feature reveals further information. This is helpful — but only to a point. If I expand too many boxes, the screen starts to look like a jumble of words.

At this point, I would do what all people do best: procrastinate. I would return to Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram and indulge myself in the endless stream of instant gratification I can get by simply picking up my phone or opening a new tab.

Suffice it to say that websites can only take you so far. Too much text clutters the user interface (UI) and makes the experience unpleasant. Too little text, and the user is too uninformed to make a decision.

See also: How Chatbots Change Open Enrollment  

Consequently, insurance providers add the option for real human interaction in the form of instant call-backs and live chats.

Through these media, an insurance broker could answer all the questions a potential customer has and tell him exactly what he should or shouldn’t buy. The customer doesn’t need to do any digging or reading on his own.

However, this, too, is not a perfect solution.

Hiring real people is not scalable.

They need to be clothed, fed and given days off.

If you are a multinational insurance company, you can throw money at these problems and minimize the inconvenience. If you are a smaller company, though, this is not an option. You might as well say goodbye to on-the-fence customers and focus on the informed ones.

But what if there was a solution?

What if you could have human interaction without the cost? Or could inform users without human interaction?

This is the promise of chatbots.

Chatbots make conveying information easier than in traditional media. They take a daunting and impersonal process like reading up on insurance plans and turn it into a simple conversation.

Imagine if all those uninformed leads could be funneled into a familiar WhatsApp-like interface, where a piece of software living on Amazon’s servers personally answered all queries as if it were a human. Chatbots interact with potential clients as a real human would to collect basic information about a person’s level of knowledge and stage in the buying process. Thus, when a human does eventually get in touch with each potential client, that human doesn’t need to waste time figuring out what the client knows and can begin helping immediately.

See also: 4 Hot Spots for Innovation in Insurance  

Here is an example of how Securenow, an insurance brokerage company, uses chatbots to help customers.

And this is how you can even showcase the best-suited insurance plans over a chatbot.

Chatbots are still in their early stages, but it is hard not to see their game-changing potential in the insurance space. In an industry where information is important — if not necessary — in making purchasing decisions, chatbots have the potential to make the buying process easier for all parties involved.

How to Captivate Customers (Part 4)

ITL Editor-in-Chief Paul Carroll recently hosted a webinar on “Captivating Customers With All-Channel Experiences,” featuring experts from Capgemini and Salesforce.com and the former chief customer experience officer at AIG. To view or listen to the webinar, click here. For the slides, click here

To see how important it is to provide a seamless, multi-channel experience that will captivate customers, look at our experience with a large North American property and casualty company. Revenue was falling. Too many customers were leaving. Customer service and the overall customer experience were lacking.

Antiquated systems – both those facing the customer and the back-end, legacy infrastructure – needed to be modernized.

The company began a multi-year transformation, starting with its auto insurance business unit, and then expanded to other areas. With our help, the company designed and deployed a “Quote to Card” capability across multiple channels. The solution provides real-time information by integrating internal and third-party systems. The insurer is now able to complete the “end-to-end” quoting process (build/rate/bind a quote) for both the direct-to-customer channel as well as the agent channel, in a much more efficient and elegant manner.

The insurer incorporated a rich analytics component. As a result, it can perform robust online analytics, capturing information such as time spent by a prospect on the site, analyzing when and why a prospect is abandoning the quote process, etc. The insurer can also personalize the user experience, using results from the analytics platform coupled with advanced techniques such as caching and multivariate testing.

Subsequently, the insurer added self-service capabilities for customers to conduct billing activities such as reviewing their account summary, paying bills, viewing payment history and updating personal profiles and other information.

As a result of the initiatives, the insurer is now able to create a 360-degree view of its customers across sales and service. There has been a 34% increase in customer retention and a 37% increase in customer satisfaction.

Meanwhile, costs are dropping. Average times for handling issues are dropping at call centers. Less time is needed to train agents, and their productivity is up 40%. More customers are using self-service channels. Fraud is also declining because the insurer can, for instance, see when people are trying to game the process by fiddling with numbers to get a better quote.

Additional capabilities are still being added as part of the multi-year transformation road map.

This is the fourth in a series of four articles adapted from the Capgemini white paper “Cloud-Enabled Transformation in Insurance: Accelerating the Ability to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences.” The other articles are here, here and here. For the full white paper, click here.