By Wimpie van Der Merwe (CEO, Global Choices)
In today’s digital age, businesses face significant challenges when it comes to effectively engaging with customers across multiple channels.
Technology is transforming our world rapidly and is revolutionising our working environments and creating new and exciting opportunities for companies and society as our physical, digital, and biological worlds merge.
These ever-evolving changes cause the blurring of lines between humans and technology, which are causing new underlining frustrations, anger, stresses, and uncertainty. Customers now have an unprecedented range of options to interact with companies, from traditional channels to a choice of digital touch points.
A total omnichannel and customer experience transformation strategy is required to address rising complexity, to create excellent customer experience and customer care, and to manage operational costs.
Prioritising customers over product
It is now very important for insurers to adopt a more customer-centric position and re-evaluating their customer care strategies. While care has traditionally been viewed purely as a cost centre, it is apparent that customer interactions and experiences are key in shaping customer impressions of your insurance company and its products or services. A great customer experience is one that is personalised. Personalised digital experiences are crucial for customer satisfaction, and customer data is a key component in achieving this experience. In fact, our entire business is built around these concepts, as are many others in the industry.
In today’s digital age, customer data has become one of the most valuable assets for businesses. From small startups to multinational corporations, every company is collecting customer data – but not all of them are using it effectively. A customer data platform offers a centralised solution for collecting and managing customer data from multiple sources, giving businesses a comprehensive understanding of their customers.
The future presents a significant shift for the insurance industry. The conventional focus on selling products and policies and fulfilling claims is transforming into prioritising services, experiences and creating value. The driving force for innovation and growth will come from addressing customers’ wants and needs, instead of what insurers want to sell or have historically offered.
The methodology of engaging with customers and distribution channels is also changing dramatically. In multiple instances, distribution partners outside of the insurance industry, including banks, manufacturers, healthcare providers and other well-known brands, will become the “face” or “front door” of the insurance sector.
For example, we recently developed a value-added insurance product and a 24-hour assistance services platform for a well-known international motorcycle brand. Our products provide embedded assistance cover for the first year when a new motorcycle is sold. The deal was done in partnership with a niche market underwriter, who developed a bespoke policy that speaks to and embodies the culture, interests and values of motorcycle enthusiasts. The policy can thus be sold at motorcycle events, rallies and the regional chapter meetings of the motorcycle brand.
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Customers’ evolving needs and preferences require omnichannel and risk transformation
The changing nature of home, work, business and family is erasing the conceptual lines that kept insurance “traditional”. This new generation has made significant lifestyle shifts and choices, which are outpacing the older generations in all aspects. This will require new diverse risk needs and different insurance solutions. Diverse customers have different priorities when it comes to buying insurance. Suppose customers want to protect their purchases at point of sale, while others are tech-savvy and value their data and want some rewards or value back for sharing it.
Small businesses also have unique needs, such as protecting virtual assets or being budget-conscious. Insurance providers should focus on meeting the unique needs of each customer type to improve customer retention and grow their business.
The insurance industry is experiencing a transformation driven by the shift towards personalised policies and services. As customer demands continue to evolve, insurers need to adapt to provide custom solutions that meet individual needs on a hyper-personalised level.
One of the most significant developments is the emergence of real-time risk protection using advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, data analytics, and digital platforms. These tools enable insurers to deliver customised protections and services instantly and at scale, anywhere and anytime. It is important to continue to invest in and leverage these tools to provide timely and efficient services to customers.
We have seen a huge take-up of our digital panic buttons on cellular phones. These provide real time response for security assistance and medical response services as well as the live tracking of the service provider responding to the location.
Live video streaming from a risk event is also growing in popularity. The information we receive from these videos assists with vital visual emergency assessments. These can range from a burst pipe to activating and visually informing emergency responders to the scene for disaster management and repairs.
Moreover, the rise of ecosystems is erasing the lines between industries, making insurance an integral part of all types of purchases and businesses. As insurers work to create their ecosystems, they must also leverage those led by others to provide a seamless customer experience. Finally, new risks necessitate the need for new products, with the industry innovating to provide coverage for evolving societal norms, cultural values, and emerging trends such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, personal data ownership, and virtual worlds. Insurers must stay nimble and be agile in their product development strategies to remain at the forefront of this rapidly changing environment.
The push to a total experience strategy (TX) emanates from the evolution of customer preferences and needs as more digital channels emerge. As customers become more integrated with technology and their comfort with digital channels evolve, they will still require human interactions, especially the older generation. Always remember to practise empathy when dealing with human beings, regardless of how tech-savvy they may be!
If insurers are committed to customer journeys, building capabilities and providing seamless services, while retaining a single view of the customer across the different channels, they will be in a great position to delight their customers for years to come.