July 13, 2020
Why Traditional Insurance Won’t Work
by Tal Daskal
With the sudden shift to remote-only interactions, insurers can no longer dictate the speed of their transformations.
Insurance companies have been slow to embrace digital transformation. They talk about the cost of integrating legacy and non-legacy technologies, and they worry about the disruption to business operations and the resulting loss of productivity. More importantly, they have been insulated from market pressures to transform because of regulations and capital resources that limit competition. With the sudden shift to remote-only interactions, insurers can no longer dictate the speed of their transformations.
As insurers scramble to implement digital solutions, they must divide their focus and resources. They have to implement policies and technologies to support employees working remotely while delivering customer-facing solutions that do not require in-person contact.
On top of these changes, the industry must make adjustments during uncertainty.
On the plus side, insurers have a wealth of research and experience to draw from. Because they are behind the curve when it comes to digital transformation, insurers should leverage what other industries have learned to jump-start their transformations.
The first thing that needs to change is the culture.
Changing corporate culture requires reforming the fundamental beliefs and values of an organization. For some insurers, that means changing a mindset that goes back centuries. It is not a simple task. Companies have to reshape their culture to align with a digital world, where customer loyalty rests more on experience than on products. According to a Walker study, customer experience will become a brand’s key differentiator by the end of 2020, overtaking price and product.
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Customers, whether consumers or corporations, want the “Amazon experience.” They want a self-service portal, an omnichannel delivery and a personalized experience. And, customers are not shy about moving to a different provider if the experience does not meet their expectations. In the U.S., even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, 17% after just one bad experience.
According to Microsoft, 90% of consumers expect a self-service portal on a company’s website. Insurers need self-service portals for buyers to evaluate products and make comparisons. Portals should allow customers to file claims and track status. Searchable portals let customers find information that can help answer questions or provide guidance. Companies implement self-service portals to address the long wait times for phone calls or the slow response times to emails.
On average, consumers use a minimum of three delivery channels when interacting with a company. They may use the company’s website or mobile app. They check reviews on Facebook or Twitter. Talking to bots, having live chats with agents or conversing via phone with customer support are all part of the delivery channel. Insurers may not support all delivery channels, but they do need to move beyond phone and in-person conversations.
Customers expect consistent communication across all delivery channels. Information on a company website must match the details of a mobile app. Whether talking to bots or people, consumers expect accurate information that is not contradicted by another channel. People expect a seamless experience, no matter how it is delivered.
Seamless is what customers expect of an omnichannel delivery model. No matter the channel, customers expect the same experience. Whether it is product information or order status, the data should be the same on a mobile app as a website. No one wants to re-enter information or repeat a description of a problem when moving from one platform to another. All systems need access to the same information in real time for a seamless experience.
The desire for a seamless experience drives the expectation of a personalized one. Customers expect the companies they do business with to know who they are, what they prefer and what they might purchase. Consumers enjoy Amazon recommendations or on-target suggestions on other social media sites. They want to feel like they are more than a Baby Boomer or millennial market segment.
What does this mean for the insurance industry?
To meet customer expectations, insurers must communicate through self-service portals across multiple channels. No one willingly waits on hold for hours or sits patiently waiting for an online response. If insurers continue to rely on paper-based solutions, they will see their customers leave for more tech-savvy competitors.
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Without a digital solution, companies cannot create a seamless experience. You cannot shuffle paper fast enough to meet expectations. More importantly, the change in culture must begin at the top. According to McKinsey, companies without executive participation are less likely to have a successful transformation. For an industry that’s most comfortable with controlled risk, insurers need to embrace Mario Andretti’s philosophy — “If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”