Whether you’re an insurance carrier or a broker, change is here and change is about to accelerate beyond the prior few years when our world was modified in ways none of us had ever seen.
I’m sure this isn’t the first opinion piece you’ve read where someone has laid out the trends that you must follow to be successful in your business. I can’t tell you the exact trends that you must follow because I will never know your business as well as you do. All I can do is hopefully lay out some ideas and concepts to help you and your teams make the decisions that are best for your organization and your specific challenges, whether they be in customer experience, innovation, claims, data usage, etc.
The financial media will tell you that we are in a recession or heading full steam ahead into one, but I’m going to tell you that now is a great time to focus on growth. Our economic history is filled with case studies of firms that came out of recessions stronger and as more dominant players in their industries. How did they achieve such success through adversity? They attacked, they adapted, and they didn’t sit still.
Carriers have a tremendous amount of data – years ago, we were told that “data is the new oil.” Although there are most certainly dollars in the data, this is the old paradigm. The new data paradigm focuses on using data to prepare for the future.
When you look at how much of a budget is used to analyze the past rather than predicting the future and designing and innovating on future endeavors, you might be surprised. Research has shown that number for some to be around 98%. Flipping that investment just a little will multiply the benefits you get from your data.
Of course, you’ve heard all about digital transformation, but if you ask the ten people to define it, what will they say? The list may be akin to a version of Digital Buzzword BINGO.
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The key is that after a decade we may be nearing the end of the digital transformation era as we’ve come to know it. We often hear from senior executives at Insurers that are looking to digitize their businesses that their biggest investment payback doesn’t conjure up the images of massive teams backing up the bus doing transformation work. They see greater success with making changes in the way that they conduct business in the little everyday tasks to make it more seamless. Such changes must occur at the right speed for policyholders, business partners, and employees. Basically, executives are looking for more targeted point solutions that teams can adjust to at their own pace.
We all know that businesses need to be technologically up to trend to maintain a competitive edge. However, we also must consider how we can keep a human touch alongside this continuous technological advancement.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
When a customer is doing business with a firm, consider the extent to which simplicity is a factor in the interaction. How are your systems set up to provide customers with seamless experiences? Are they able to do business without too many clicks and without too many decisions and frustrations? Customers are favoring simple user experiences more than ever. Many expect the experience with you to be as easy as the Uber trip they just took, so they come to you with challenging expectations. One tool that, if used correctly, can help simplify experiences is artificial intelligence (AI).
AI has its pros and cons, but we’re still in an age where people like to have human service providers as an option, and human employees greatly impact perceptions of businesses. I’m usually not an unreasonable person, but my list of “to-do’s” includes looking at other options for my home internet because my current provider’s chatbot lacks a humanized customer service approach, making getting my questions answered frustrating and far too drawn out. My service provider embraced technology with the intention to provide better customer experiences, but it easily takes ten minutes just to get through the “who I am” part of the process, and their service remains full of friction throughout.
Measuring Reputation and Brand Perception
Often, one of the hardest things for a business to measure is reputation and brand perception. There are many different types of customers, and they come with a diverse set of expectations for their institutions. Your policyholders and partners are all very different and come to you to conduct business with different expectations.
For example, some policyholders may seek insurance options that are just not feasible as part of purchasing or service experiences. They want carriers to meet them where they are and to be made to feel important.
The end user isn’t thinking about all the work you’re doing in the background to modernize, innovate, and disrupt to win in your marketplace. They’re thinking about what they need now and if you can provide it for them. That “now” may also occur infrequently. We all know that the lights and the systems must remain on and running. Some of those systems may be on-prem and some may be in the cloud, but as your client, they just want to be able to hit an easy button and have confidence that an institution they’re doing business with has their back.
As new products and services become more and more reliant on technology, your business’s ability to reduce friction while realizing value from your automation investments is critical. Some of these initiatives will be sure bets and some will be a higher risk with the potential for a big payoff.
In conclusion, the road to standing up to new technology is not always a smooth one. Creating a digital experience that can be seamless for a diverse variety of users will remain a challenge for the next decade. Businesses must continue to optimize processes and build a moat around themselves by offering reliable and effective customer experiences.
Whether it be omnichannel, opti-channel, or a witch’s brew of things we haven’t even thought of yet, what is certain is that when it comes to new approaches to engaging with your policyholders and partners, the trend is that change is going to be constant and relentless. Taking a pragmatic and execution-oriented approach supported by partners that feel the same way will reap great benefits.