In today’s digital world, insurers must adapt to better service the needs of customers who have come to expect an integrated experience across all channels. Ben Burger, managing executive at SilverBridge, says this continuous customer journey requires a different approach to what has come before.

“The emergence of the digital customer is resulting in the need to deliver more personalised services. These services need to be easily accessible, user-friendly, and use the channel the customer is most comfortable with. Moreover, the service should be able to provide a seamless experience across multiple channels to conclude any interaction between the policy holder and insurer. It has led to the expectation of on-demand solutions designed to be accessed from anywhere, at any time, using any device,” says Burger.

Theoretically, insurtech start-ups should be dominating this segment because of their ability to quickly adapt to changing market conditions. However, to date, this has not been the case. So, even though we are seeing the rise of insurtechs, they have yet to gain significant market share.

“What we are seeing is most of the bigger players dedicating significant budgets to work with emerging technologies. The race for disruption is still very much in the balance. To make things even more interesting, organisations that are not traditionally seen as insurers are also developing solutions that could encroach on the domain of their incumbents.”

In the future, it will come down to leveraging data in more innovative ways and identifying new revenue opportunities quickly.

“Most probably, this could be done by providing something no one else offers yet such as a personalised insurance package specifically tailored to a person’s profile, using social media feeds. Some of the technology to make this a reality already exists. It is now a question of filling in the blanks and having the vision to put it all together using next-generation administration platforms as well as omni-channel, data, and AI engines.”

Linking everything

“Historically, insurers only dealt with their customers at inception of the policy, and at claim stage, with possibly one or two interactions through the policy lifecycle. This has started to change, becoming much more frequent. The emergence of sophisticated technology (like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things) are enabling companies to use data in new ways opening opportunities that previously did not exist.”

Big data can provide greater insights on things such as how customers drive, the frequency of their gym visits, even their discussions on social networks when it comes to insurance-related matters. People have gotten used to the notion that if they provide personal information, they get a personal service. But more than that, there is also the possibility of having premiums reduced for this ‘sacrifice’.

“By connecting all facets of the customer in an insurance environment, the company can optimise its internal processes and facilitate an easier claims process. It can also enhance its value proposition to cater for the individual instead of a demographic. The financial services provider of the future could offer highly customised financial solutions, encompassing banking, insurance, medical, and investment products. Basically, exactly what you as an individual will need to maintain and evolve your chosen lifestyle,” he says.

Understanding data

This has seen people demanding connected experiences instead of just buying off-the-shelf products. It is about combining data analytics with the computing capabilities offered by the cloud as well as solutions such as mobile computing, and machine-learning.

“Today, it has become less about computing and more about what can be delivered through a connected environment. Collaboration between different departments within an insurer, to ensure there is a universal understanding of the profile of the individual customer, will become key. It is a feat that should not be underestimated.”

Hyper-personalisation will become the new reality. Very soon, insurers will have to offer solutions like this to differentiate themselves in a competitive environment. The insurers who deliver this first, will be in a much stronger position than the others who remain locked in their traditional ways for longer.

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