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David Kohler, Regional Head, Experience and Culture, Generali Asia [BIT: G]
When I began working in insurance in early 2018, I was surprised at how industry discussions focused mostly on internal, operational problems such as creating risk models, streamlining underwriting and policy issuance, or managing claim fraud.
While I see how such initiatives help to drive profitability, I felt we weren’t talking enough about how digital could help acquire or retain customers. This focus on “digitization” rather than “digital transformation” (automation of legacy processes vs creating new business value) seemed like a lost opportunity.
Generali has a stated ambition to be a “lifetime partner” to its customers, in particular using digital to support customers with 360 advisory and 24/7 assistance, as well as enabling and rethinking the agent-customer relationship. So, in addition to the usual mobile apps, cloud platforms and RPA, what specific investments in CX are we seeing? Here are four technologies I have come across the most frequently.
Social Platforms for Customer ServiceIn the past, most people associated social tech with marketing, and customer engagement initiatives using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, many insurers now use WhatsApp or other messaging systems (where allowed) as true operational platforms to directly service customers, answer queries and even distribute digital policies. The challenge is that this approach often conflicts with the strategy of trying to push customers onto in-house service apps to try to collect data and upsell.
Onboarding should ensure customers fully understand their coverage and how to use the product. As onboarding is hard to deliver consistently through intermediaries, many insurers are inviting customers to click on unique video links to visually provide personalized policy information, key terms & conditions and contact channels.
Insurers who can’t deliver great experiences will be increasingly challenged to attract customers, retain them or sell more products
Chatbots for Sales and Service
Chatbots are a hotly disputed technology. Some claim chatbots will drive huge operational efficiencies by reducing call centre volumes, while others dismiss them as glorified FAQs. While some chatbots are just dumb content trees, “true” chatbots use AI to drive machine learning and natural language processing. In Asia, adoption (believe it or not, not everyone thinks chatbots are a better information experience!), scalability and consistency across languages remain challenging.
Customer Journey Analytics, Data Hubs and Personalization Technology
As insurers begin to understand customer journeys and how to work with them, customer journey analytics suites and data hubs promise the ability to gather data on customer interactions at multiple touchpoints (email, web, mobile, social, contact centres, even field sales) and reconstruct the information visually. Some even claim to apply predictive analytics to flag the best sales opportunities or customers who will cancel their policies. While there are case studies in other industries like e-commerce and telco, many insurers still don’t have a 360 view of customers, either due to low engagement, regulatory obstacles or poor operational hygiene. The key problem here is not technology, but rather the data to feed these systems. In many cases, insurers don’t have enough.
Overall, I see many insurance Ops and IT leaders still focusing on internal processes, while delegating their customer experience to “the distribution people.” This is a mistake. I understand that core innovation remains critical to profitability and viability. However, I also believe that insurers who can’t deliver great experiences will be increasingly challenged to attract customers, retain them or sell more products.