By Liza Morris, President of IIWC and Regional Manager of Bryte
I am because you are – our collective dependency on each other, our care and our actions was my big take away from 2020.
Navigating a pandemic and the many uncertainties it brings with it, is challenging enough. Doing so amidst rising financial instability and a growing unemployment rate compounds the challenge. While people – the world over – have had to adjust to a new way of living, the current circumstances are demanding care, empathy and swift and decisive action on an ongoing basis.
As we again find ourselves in the eye of the storm with a second wave of the virus, the new year has kicked off with heightened levels of anxiety. It, therefore, makes it even more important to effectively consider ways in which businesses can pivot to achieve stability in 2021.
1.Prioritising for resilience
Through this pandemic, businesses have continued to demonstrate resilience through relevance, innovation, agility and an unwavering focus in responding to changing customer needs.
In 2021, I believe, it is vital to:
●Further, entrench this focus but from a point of true care and approaching risk with purpose
●Explore avenues for diversification (product, footprint, channels, partnerships, etc.)
●Revisit how products, services and experiences are delivered. We transitioned rapidly from face-to-face interactions to a virtual marketplace, focusing on maintaining relationships and delivering our value proposition in more innovative ways
●Build on technological competencies to enhance efficiencies, optimise functionality, add value and solidify footing in the digisphere
●Most importantly, be cognisant of your employees emotional state and its impact on the delivery of care and value to customers. Providing continued support to those who may be feeling very overwhelmed must be prioritised
Among the more encouraging developments in 2020 was the rise in business partnerships to overcome many challenges that impacted both livelihoods and lives, secure relevance through unprecedented circumstances and even achieve profitability. Internationally, more collaborations are taking shape between insurance and technology companies. This is delivering tremendous benefits for our industry (enhancing innovation, increasing competitiveness} and adding value to businesses.
3.Positioning to manage volatility
Other disruptions such as low interest rates, rising global tensions, supply chain disruptions, power outages, etc. continue to affect the financial services sector in diverse ways. Insurance businesses are being increasingly looked at for their ability to effectively transfer risk away from customers so that they can effectively focus on sustaining their businesses and participate in economic recovery.
The management of risk is however a 3-way partnership between Insurer, broker and customer and more collaboration should become the order of day in seeking beneficial solutions. Insurers and brokers who can efficiently draw from their resources, leverage talent, mobilise partnerships and maintain their finger on the pulse to meet and pre-empt evolving needs, will maintain their competitive edge.
4.Coming from a place of care and trust
Most short-term insurance policies were not designed to respond to a pandemic or withstand the transfer of risk of such enormity. Considering the negative public sentiment and its impact on the industry, 2021 will thus require a broader focus on strengthening customer and partner trust through consistency in action and response. Here are a few considerations:
●Simple and clear: Insurers (like many other service providers) will need to focus on greater clarity when articulating covers, conditions, processes, etc. to customers to minimise misinterpretation – for the benefit of all parties. The pandemic has brought to the fore the need to ensure customers fully understand the covers they subscribe to and the risks they remain exposed to
●Transparency, at all costs by all parties: What the global pandemic and lockdown have further emphasised is the importance of transparent and timeous engagement with customers. Better consultations with insurers, brokers and customers can ensure sound outcomes and better address expectations
●Securing customer information: The unprecedented level of connectedness today comes with wonderful opportunities but equally, risks. Cybercrime levels have risen exponentially with more people working from home. Securing sensitive customer must thus continue to be a leading priority. Insurers and brokers who keep abreast of technologies that bolster security, will enhance the relationship of trust among customers and their broader value chain
Ultimately, the importance of effective communication will continue to be evident in 2021. Appreciating the challenge of physical limitations, all service-oriented businesses must deepen their focus on – and agility in – connecting with stakeholders at multiple touchpoints, demonstrating care and compassion and being responsive to evolving needs and concerns.