A fascinating conversation with Wimpie van der Merwe, the CEO of Global Choices.
Tony: Your value added products (VAPs) are based on Design Thinking principles, maybe you can explain what it means to have Design Thinking behind your products?
Wimpie: The whole idea and foundation of design thinking is based on empathy. We are in the service industry, so start with the customer, looking at how they are going to experience your products or your services. Our biggest objective is to partner with our clients, that can be an underwriter, broker or an insurer. We then focus on those different experiences the customer is going through during a risk event, looking at all the different touch points and identifying the problem areas while looking for new solutions to make the customer journey easier or simpler.
We develop most of our value added products, our assistance services, and then also our digital solutions during this process. Our main focus is the “emergency assistance event”, because we are the first touch point and the beginning of an insurance risk event that become an insurance claim.
Tony: How does the integration with insurance work and where does the client come into the process?
Wimpie: our focus is to partners with our clients and becoming an extension of their brand. It can start when they develop a new insurance product where we embed our value added services and digital solutions as part of that new launch, becoming part of that DNA of the and the customer journey. We can also just be a separate brand of assistance services products, a bundle of products that we put together for the broker or underwriter. We become the extension of the first notice of loss and claim solutions. The objective is how can we optimize our assistance during a specific event. When a person is involved in a motor car accident, what happens around that event and how can we assist the client to manage the event holistically. This entails optimising all the different experiences that a customer is going through at that stage, and all the way through to he claims process and resolution.
Tony: To ensure a fast response, because with these accidents events you need immediate response, you use a lot of on hand client information. How does this work and how does it benefit the insurer and the client?
Wimpie: We normally sit with our clients and then come to an agreement where different options or solutions are available, creating an API or digital data vault for them, to protect that data as per the POPIA. We then use these API to get verification of the client and the details that’s applicable to that specific risk event to assist the client faster. During the event we also capture information relevant for claim stage . We can now use that information to start pre populating the claim form. After the event we can then send the first notice of loss to the broker, underwriter or insurer, and then also to the client. The client can then sit in the comfort of his own home and on his cell phone or a laptop work through the digital claim form with the vital visual information that was captured at the risk event and attach to submit the digital form to the brokers, the underwriters.,
Tony: Your unique value proposition, in terms of distinguishing yourself from other VAP providers, would probably lie in the integration process, the design thinking, the interfaces and the use of the information?
Wimpie: As digital solutions evolve and becomes faster and quicker, you have to find new solutions to help you integrate into the emergency event and claims process that follow during the customer experience. With a lot of legacy systems, you can actually create this interim equality API or vault where you can have access to the vital information of the customer, to make the decision process much easier. We use design thinking principles to develop our digital and VAP’s solutions to optimise multiple objectives simultaneously for our clients and their policyholders during a risk event.
Tony: Please tell us more about the new digital solutions app you are launching.
Wimpie: We started five years ago on this digital journey, because we realised that people use their cell phones to have access to the world of information or the various digital experiences. I always say digital developments are never final, it’s a continuous journey. So we are now moving deeper into this space we call ecosystems, digital ecosystems or platforms. So, a call centre is one of our digital platforms, where we capture quite a lot of information, and to integrated it on a person’s app. The art of integration is to capture information at different touch points and to create a single customer view during a risk event for claim resolution So it’s the integration of all these different touch points. The app is actually just part of our eco platforms but behind it, there’s also different layers , call centre solution, web and digital solutions, etc.
They are all integrated, because the biggest challenge I’ve seen in the insurance industry is to have that single customer view. So our focus, as you mentioned, is to have that single customer view of the policyholder when a risk event happens, and then to give people access to the information that will help with the customer a long their journey. With the siloed insurance processes at the moment you sign up for a policy, you renew a policy at the end of your contract period while, in between, you deal with different departments when you claim, or alter your policy etc. Every time you engage you start over because there’s not a single view of that customer. That’s what we are trying to achieve with our solutions, our API’s and our digital vaults.
Tony: So what is the offering on the new app?
Wimpie: The offering is that you can be connected to your broker, or your underwriter 24 hours a day. So let’s start with a simple thing: We need an emergency where you press the panic button which sends a signal through to the call centre. The call centre calls you and locates you and, depending on your emergency need, or the situation, we then start to case manage on the client’s behalf. But there are two sides to the app. The first is, where they downloaded the app on a cell phone, or where we just sent an SMS which can be opened as URL Link to an application that opens with all the functionality to capture the information and to do the emergency assessment.
Activating the App or URL Link the client can use their camera and mic to connect directly with the case manager and communicate the the damage to their motor vehicle or the geyser that became a water feature in your house. We can make emergency assessments and activate the necessary response unit and service providers to contain the damage. This is the ultimate form of empathy, put yourself in the shoes of that customer, in that event, and have visual information for better assistance. Our app and all these things are built in. On our app platform we can activate different functions it depends on what the broker marketed to their client or what they would like to add to their products, so it’s a very versatile, flexible app platform. So as a broker, you can have three different types of products that you sell to your clients. When a client downloads the app, and they put in their details it will automatically activate what’s available on his menu on that specific app as well. So it becomes very flexible ecosystem and platform. Very versatile.
Tony: This means that neither the client nor the insurer really know that you’re there.
Wimpie: Yes, because we now become the extension of the brand. And, as I said, we fulfil specific needs on the customer journey. we can be the 24hour Assist hub that will provide a telephone call centre , the app, the self service portal, and an app or app-less experience with assistance services or products. So we try to just make that customers whole risk journey easier.
But, as I said, we first touch point in the customer journey when a risk event happens because of the emergency side of it.
Tony: So you now have a broker system, a broker app, insurer system and insurer app. Where do these systems then fit into this whole ecosystem?
Wimpie: This now depends on all those different distribution channels and how they want to create the functionality around these. We can just be a functionality on their apps or their system, or we can manage that as well. So we don’t try to dictate the objective. The objective is around the customer and identifying all the touch points. If they already have some existing touch points we can integrate ours with those touch points, whereafter we can just be on their app with the call centre functionality or in a home assistant services or geyser replacement services or wherever they want us to be. We don’t come and say you have to take this or that. We like to partner with our clients, not dictate to them.
Tony: It almost looked like you’re a sort of hub in this ecosystem?
Wimpie: Yes, insurance brokers need to be available 24 hours a day for their customers, because risk events, as I mentioned, don’t keep office hours. A geyser will burst at six o’clock on a Sunday night and you need to resolve it, but you can also resolve the geyser claim or warranty claim through our solutions with a touch of a button. Under the brand of the broker, when the client phones, we will sort out the replacement, etc. It depends on what mandate has been given to us or what protocols have been agreed
Tony: I love where insurance is going with everything happening at the touch of a button, and the process you have put in place. It’s because there’s nothing worse than when something happens, you have to find out how you do this and how do you contact who and fill in forms and wait for somebody to arrive to give you forms to fill in, etc?
Wimpie: We try to take that hassle factor out of the journey. My whole idea is that, when you sign up a client, as a policyholder, as a broker, why don’t you pre populate the obvious claim forms from day one. When that event happened, the pre populated claim forms get activated. As a client, you know my bank details because you deduct the policy premium every month from my bank but you give me a blank claim form. The biggest recognition you can give a person is to know who your customer is, and what’s their name and their details. That’s where technology can play a big role in helping all players in the insurance industry to know who the customer is. That’s where AI in the future will also play a big role and we are giving them access to those tools. This will lead to great client experiences and increased retention.
Tony: I look forward to the upcoming Insurtech conference on the 27th and 28th of July where we are going to debate these integration things; the good and the bad of it.
Wimpie: The ancient Greeks used to talk about a devil’s advocate, someone who will come in to oppose whatever the trend or the rules are. And that’s the best way to actually identify the real issues, because you need the mirror to look in and to understand all sides better.
Our biggest mirror is actually, at the end of the day, our customer and how they perceive our services, our solutions and the simplicity thereof.
The Global Choices’ Emergency App solution provides insurers with the ultimate customer-centric and digital claim solutions under their brand.
The Global Choices’ Emergency App Global Choices Lifestyle is an Authorised Financial Services Provider – FSP #44544.