The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the FIA. The article below was supplied by 2018 FIA partner, Global Choices.
At Global Choices we predict that by the year 2020 the value of personalised customer experiences will overtake price and product as a business’s key differentiator. The biggest challenge insurance brokers face is how to connect and to be constantly available to communicate, engage, advise and delight their customers across multiple channels, formats and digital device types – 24hours a day, every day.
The era of digital transformation has changed the way companies interact with their customers, creating an environment where marketing, information and technology must collaborate as a seamless service. Companies like Amazon, Apple and Google are the benchmark adopters and developers of digital platforms to deliver a satisfying customer experience. As digital platforms, mobile and social media networks become exponentially prevalent, customers rely on smartphones and tablets to search, investigate, assess value and buy products online – anytime, anywhere.
Today’s hyper-connected customers expect the same personalised, 21st century experience from their insurance broker as they do from their favourite app, search engine or online retailer. Insurance brokers must change their business models and strategies to remain relevant, competitive and take advantage of potential wallet share. Failing to adapt to the fast pace of digital transformation is the biggest threat to broker sustainability.
Applying solutions to be available 24 hours a day
360° customer-centric design is about understanding your customers’ needs, how they think and how they behave. These insights become your guide or framework as you combine and integrate into every aspect of your business processes across this new digital landscape. Digital adoption is the new norm and insurance brokers cannot risk sitting on the side-lines.
Insurance brokers needs to rethink the principles of how they do business to stay relevant in the insurance game. They need to see and be seen as trustworthy, digitally capable, provide caring support and guide their customer if anything goes wrong. Alternatively, brokers should serve as preventative risk facilitators and advisors before things can even go wrong by connecting customers to their own personalised, branded, digital products and services that will make their lives easier and safer – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Change the operating model
Digital transformation is not just a matter of integrating new tech. The way your business is set up must be transformed, too. Every touch point needs to become 360° customer-centric. The days of insurance being organised around products are gone and will evolve more to focus on experience and service. It needs to be about customer segments and life stages, with multi-skilled staff who can resolve as much as possible in one contact. With much of your admin work now being automated, insurance brokers need to be looking at whether this presents an opportunity to bring work back in house and shift the customer contact focus from “product” to “event” and then step in to assist and manage the risk event.
How to start
The internet was supposed to kill the middleman. However, if insurance brokers harness the internet and digital platforms more efficiently, it can actually make them stronger. Start by having your own branded 24-hour call centre and number available for customers. Too many insurance brokers still say it is up to the insurance companies to provide the service. On the contrary, the customer bought the insurance from you the broker and expects you to take care of the service, especially in a risk emergency that translates into a claim.
Rethink your website and service strategy to provide a more interactive web functionality and self-service – and make sure your website is mobile friendly! Customers expect more efficiency and transparency with claims and they expect to have several channels available for submitting and settling claims. Create your own branded app or collaborate with a digital specialist (insurtech) who combines emergency care with claims assistance, advice, communication, scalability, sales, policy schedules and risk prevention efficiencies. Customer insights start with customer intelligence. Customers expect brokers to know who they are and what they are interested in. The 360° customer view is the idea. It is sometimes considered unattainable or in siloed. But by aggregating data from various insurance touch points, any brokerage can create a single customer view and personal experience.
Our growing reliance on digital technologies is not only reshaping customer expectations, but also dramatically redefining the insurance industry. We have been on this journey since 1668 in the Lloyd’s coffee shop – from risk mitigation via indemnity and with minimum interactions with customers, to being more interactive and using risk management as a valuable service to deliver indemnity as a part of risk facilitation.