Achieving customer-centric insurance digital transformation

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If there’s one common thread tying together the transformations occurring across all industries, it’s that the customer experience is the driving factor. According to the Gartner Customer Experience survey, 81% of marketers say that the customer experience will be the primary or sole basis on which their companies compete this year. Insurance is no exception. As providers navigate a shifting market landscape and plan their innovation strategies to drive customer acquisition and engagement, here’s what they should keep in mind.

Customer expectations are increasing – and they won’t be slowing down
In the age of connectivity, the consumer has more information, services, and computing power literally at their fingertips than at any point in human history. By 2030, there will be nearly 50 billion connected devices worldwide, and as innovations in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the digital economy have increased, customer expectations have as well.

For insurers that have been slow to innovate, this is nothing less than an existential challenge. As a recent J.D. Power analysis stated, the number of “at-risk” consumers open to switching their insurance carriers is at its highest in decades, raising the stakes in insurers’ quest to differentiate themselves with seamless experiences and valuable engagements.

Of course, delivering better customer experiences will require customer data – and lots of it. In order to direct customers to the right offerings, to more accurately assess risk, and to provide the best customer support possible, insurers need a 360-degree view of their policyholders. And consumers are so eager for an improved experience that 63% are willing to share more of their data to enable it, according to a PwC survey.

What the customer expects is straightforward: simplicity, efficiency, and personalized service. To satisfy those demands insurers must make big investments in technology and undergo strategic organizational shifts to streamline change.

If long-term market trends were already driving greater demand for digital adoption, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate them. Digital technology is an even bigger part of daily life than it was before the crisis, as offices shift to remote work, schools move to distance learning, and people rely on tools like FaceTime and Zoom to safely stay in touch with family and friends.

The pandemic itself is likely to remain a force for at least several more months. Even after it ends, such long-term dependence on digital tools will have further cemented consumer expectations for experiences that are as convenient, efficient, and tech-savvy as the platforms and products they’re engaging with.

While solutions like automated chatbots carry significant promise as a way of offering round-the-clock, intelligent customer support and engagement, it’s essential for insurers to ensure that such solutions are delivered with a human touch. These tools should augment – not wholly displace – human professionals, and they should be developed with an empathetic view of what policyholders want and need.

As innovation accelerates, AI and machine learning will enhance insurers’ data collection processes, enabling better underwriting and product development while enabling carriers to meet customer needs in real time.

No matter where a customer is engaging with an insurer – on their mobile device, online, over the phone, or in person – a consistent, seamless experience is a must. As connected devices proliferate and people continue engaging with services across multiple platforms, they need the assurance that they can always count on the same standard of service. This will in turn yield greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, helping insurers gain the competitive edge.

Organizational transformation is key
The customer experience may be the pinnacle of the competitive pyramid, but supporting it are vital layers of technology, human resources, and organizational culture. These must all be in sync for insurers to realize the full benefits of digital innovation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled insurers to find new ways of empowering and equipping now-remote agents, which has required more investment in key areas like cloud technology. As insurers look to the future, they can learn from the pandemic to embrace a truly digital culture in which every employee is empowered by innovative technology. This will require disrupting silos that hinder effective collaboration, undermine effective data management, and limit change.

Customer centricity requires deft strategies, a firm grasp of how technology can unlock winning experiences, and an organizational culture dedicated to collaborative innovation. Those who get the formula right will enjoy the competitive edge.

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Digital transformation