Wimpie van der Merwe, the CEO of Global Choices is a Design Thinking man, especially when it comes to the customer journey and bringing together multiple service providers.
Global Choices provides products and services that rely on collaboration between different people and different companies. I asked Wimpie to tell us a bit more about how he manages the complexities.
Wimpie: The whole art of collaboration comes out because the insurance industry has always been very siloed. You’ve got all these different processes or platforms, or different fulfilment partners such as an admin company, the policy administration platform, the broker, underwriter, or the insurance company. This is my whole approach and Global Choices by default, because that’s how I look at things. We embed that thinking into the company’s culture. We use design thinking, always starting with the client, and then working our way back, focusing on the client’s journey, their experiences, the convenience factors, to simplify processes etc.
This means there is quite a focus around that client, his world and how he or she will perceive or understand what you’re trying to provide to them. We then work that journey back and, as you work back on that journey, you identify different touch points, or the lack thereof. That’s how we, as Global Choices, step in to simplify and make it more convenient. Then again, coming back to design thinking, using empathy as the process to guide us. The ultimate form of empathy, for a company with your products and services, is to be intuitive, to act or react before the client even thinks he will need the product or service.
So this is where using technology comes in. Use your technology, your services and your expertise to just be that one step ahead of the client’s journey. That’s how Global Choices, over 20 years came to be the company it is. We fill those specific gaps in the customer’s risk journey. We are actually just a gap fulfilment company.
COVER: I don’t know if you can put a finger to it, but how many companies are in this collaboration network of global choices?
Wimpie: As you go along all those different touch points, you can focus and see what happens around that event. What’s the real solution, not the perceived solution or the idea you sometimes reimagine? That’s how you then collaborate with different companies to fulfil specific needs. But, to make it as simple as possible you need to break it down to the client’s risk event journey.
When Global Choices started out the majority of the business that we provide services to in the insurance industry is very much the 24 Hour Emergency Services, so that’s the first touch point. Normally, in a stressful situation, when you contact that call centre, it depends on the specific risk event that the client is going through, as they need to activate quite a lot of different services solutions or technology to capture information. It is that whole unbundling of what you can do simultaneously to, at that moment, assist the client. That is why there are so many different collaborations behind the scenes, to analyse every risk event.
We have over 20 years’ experience, so we have quite a lot of data that has been built up over time to continuously improve on those services. The reimagining and reinvention of existing processes are continuous. So we can never really sit still. The main focus is the end customer, and their journey and, if there are problems or issues that you pick up in a risk event journey, then you have to find solutions for it. That’s how the collaboration came about. Global Choices has three main companies; a 24 hour assistance services; a call centre and then also the Halo platform. The Halo platform was developed by another company I started just over five years ago, called Digital Path. Digital Path focuses very much on the app platforms, the app-less platforms, the self-service, and capturing information for the first notice of loss, the information that needs to go out to parties that have been part of the process.
Then, close to four years ago, I started this joint venture, because I believe that an emergency event will follow onto a claims event and insurance customer journey. That’s why we partnered with Claim Central in Australia, because they develop all these digital solutions around the customer’s claims experiences. Interestingly, some of that technology like the Livegenic, we actually now use in our 24 hour call centre, because that’s live video streaming from the scene of the motor car accident or the home emergency. The visual information you gather there can then be shared with the responding unit. However, it also becomes information that is part of the first notice of loss and claims process resolution. That is how we look at it.
We integrate all these different dimensions of technology, services, products and solutions in and around that journey. That is why collaboration is very important. Because the whole focus is on what the objective is and to create a clear and compelling cause for a solution. It never stops, it is continuous. We always have to be curious about what we can do better, even if it is sometimes just something small that you tweak. You always have to go revisit it and reinvent certain processes.
COVER: On a softer side, at the end of the day, when you’re dealing in your collaboration, in your new network, besides the client, you are still dealing with people that you are working with and integrating with. How do you get those relationships to harmoniously run together in collaboration?
Wimpie: Over time you build up relationships with all the different parties and service providers, etc. But as I mentioned earlier, you have to create a clear, compelling objective; what would you like to achieve and what are your expectations? It is almost a little bit like storytelling. You take the customers through that journey for all the parties, so that they can understand what role they are playing and in what specific part of the story. Then it is to establish goals. It is always to leverage the collaboration’s strength because everybody has a strength.
Yes, we all have our weaknesses as well, but when you go through the collaboration process, you actually find solutions for those weaknesses that you pick up. Through this you introduce or encourage innovation through that process. Then there’s also faster cohesion between all the different parties, because they learn quite a lot from each other. Sometimes, they never knew that they were actually sitting on a different type of resource, even if it’s a product, service or digital solution that can be used in a different way. That is what I encourage. That is my purpose. Go and look at what you have because, sometimes, you are sitting on a pot of gold, and don’t even know it because you are too focused on one specific solution. You will then be providing better solutions as well. I discovered this now with Claim Central, over these last four years, as I’m analysing and investigating their services.
Lastly, it is important, as one of the main objectives, to honour your promises. That is how you build trust and also make it quite clear that the objectives are reached and measurable.