TV PANEL SPOTLIGHT

Delivering Greater Value for Customers in Insurance

Competition for each and every insurance customer is getting ever fierce. From the InsurTech boom to open APIs and aggregation, panellists on the Insurance Innovators recent webinar, Delivering Greater Value for Customers in Insurance, agreed that the industry is under increasing pressure to innovate and add value in order to build customer loyalty at a time when expectations are higher than ever.  

“Customers want their chosen brands to know them and guide them”

Patrick Knight, Salesforce

“Customer expectations are constantly being raised by their interactions with other brands in other industries and those digital-first experiences that they have every day,” said Patrick Knight, RVP Insurance at Salesforce UK&I. “They want their chosen brands to know them and guide them.”

Knight said the “great unmet need” among insurance customers is for improved transparency and simplicity – not always easy given the inherent complexity of financial services products.

“Transparency should be more than a regulatory requirement.”

Ed Rochfort, Carrot Insurance

Ed Rochfort, Managing Director of Carrot Insurance, said transparency is key. “It should be more than a regulatory requirement,” he said. “Does the customer understand the product, and does it meet their requirements now and how will it meet them in the future?”

Delivering on this means insurers have to work harder, said Phil Williams, Managing Director – MGA at Simply Business. “Simplicity is really hard to deliver,” he added. “Joining everything up behind the scenes and delivering context to the frontline is really important to make that simplicity a reality.”

“The insurance industry has historically focused on underwriting performance and sales growth and hasn’t focused on customer experience.”

Phil Williams, Simply Business

He cited a survey commissioned by Engine Group which found that while banks have continued to increase their customer experience scores, progress by the insurance industry has stalled. “It’s an industry that has historically focused on underwriting performance and sales growth and hasn’t focused on customer experience,” said Williams.

The data exchange

In a data-rich universe, however, it should be easier than ever to close that customer experience gap. After all, said Patrick Knight of Salesforce, customers are increasingly willing to share their personal data in return for increased convenience and better service in a value exchange that benefits both parties.

“Telematics customers understand we are trying to help them reduce their risk, which is good for them and good for us”

Ed Rochfort, Carrot Insurance

This value exchange is most apparent when it comes to telematics. “Telematics customers really understand the economic value of the data they are going to share,” said Ed Rochfort of Carrot Insurance. “They understand we are trying to help them reduce their risk, which is good for them and good for us.”

He pointed out that Carrot’s customers can look on the app and immediately see the value of that journey in pounds and pence. “Moving forwards, it’s about understanding other ways we can provide value in every interaction they have with us,” said Rochfort.

A new insurance model

Tim Yorke, Transformation Director of AXA Commercial UK, said companies stand at a crossroads about the kind of insurer they want to be – and their choice of direction will inform the type of customer experiences they generate. “If we are going to be a pure commodity product where we will compete on price and will pretty much breakeven, then we will try to make it as cheap as possible,” he said. “But if data allow us to create products that provide risk prevention and other services then that’s a different kind of engagement.”

“By bringing together the static information that insurers have always collected and merging it with dynamic real time information from mobile phones, wearables and smart devices in the home, we can make very targeted, very specific alerts”

Patrick Knight, Salesforce

Patrick Knight of Saleforce agreed. “The ability to bring in information and context that goes beyond the individual to their household and other things that are important to them, means we can provide bespoke and tailored recommendations and that moves from a vendor relationship to more of a partnership,” he said. “By bringing together the static information that insurers have always collected and merging it with dynamic real time information from mobile phones, wearables and smart devices in the home, we can make very targeted, very specific alerts about future decisions the customer might need to take or measures to avoid incidents.”

Phil Williams of Simply Business said the industry was now going full circle. “We are now making up for a period where we only thought about efficiency in the contact centre,” he said. “Now we have the data to put in that context so we understand our customers on a more personal level, just as we did 40 years ago.”

“The basic insurance policy is a very good thing to buy but it’s very difficult to consume”

Tim Yorke, AXA

The difficulty the insurance industry has long battled is that for many consumers it remains a grudge purchase and its value is only really put to the test when the worst happens. “The basic insurance policy is a very good thing to buy but it’s very difficult to consume,” said Tim Yorke of AXA.

The panellists agreed the solution is to use new technology to deliver risk mitigation and prevention services. “The provision of an indemnity or actualisation of a claims process is the very last resort,” said Ed Rochfort of Carrot Insurance. “We should be there before that point to help prevent those losses in the first place.”

He points out that telematics data allows Carrot to really understand what leads to high accident frequency among its insured motorists. “For the poorest drivers, it’s about reaching out and telling them that’s the case, which is not always an easy conversation but it’s a core part of what we do to add value to that customer.”

“There’s a fine line between personal information being used in ways that are very helpful or ways that are perceived as invasive”

Patrick Knight, Salesforce

There is, however, a health warning when it comes to delivering very targeted, very personalised messaging. “There’s a fine line between personal information being used in ways that are very helpful or ways that are perceived as invasive,” cautioned Patrick Knight of Salesforce.  “There are a number of factors that have to be considered: the frequency of the communication, the tone and whether the channel suits and supports the lifestyle of the individual. We also need to make sure we are not always in sales mode so that the communication isn’t always about the product but is also about the relationship.”

Communicating across siloes

“Experts are important”

Tim Yorke, AXA

It’s no surprise that the discussion then turned to the perennial topic of data silos and legacy systems, which have long inhibited customer-centric innovation in the insurance industry although Tim Yorke said he was prepared to speak in favour of silos. “Experts are important,” he stressed.

“You need to have a shared vision of what you stand for. If you are all autonomous teams pulling in different directions, then you can’t create great customer experiences.”

Phil Williams, Simply Business

Phil Williams of Simply Business said the key was to find a common language between siloed departments. “You need to have a shared vision of what you stand for,” he said. “If you are all autonomous teams pulling in different directions then you can’t create great customer experiences.”

Digital: enabling great customer experience

Increasingly those great customer experiences are digital. Ed Rochfort of Carrot Insurance said the majority of the company’s contact centre exchanges are now done through chat facilities rather than telephony.  The benefits are not just financial, he said.

“Chat facilities create a mine of data that we can really understand. Our agents get to spend more time with customers supported by data on the screen from previous conversations. It works really well – in fact, it’s transformative.”

Ed Rochfort, Carrot Insurance

“It creates a mine of data that we can really understand,” said Rochfort. “Our agents get to spend more time with customers supported by data on the screen from previous conversations. It works really well – in fact, it’s transformative.”

Patrick Knight of Salesforce said AI and machine learning can be powerful tools to understand and curate these new interactions.  This isn’t about eliminating the human touch but rather empowering the human employees to make better decisions and deliver services that add value to customers.

This will be key to help insurers transition from being “payers” to “partners”,” said Knight. “We want to reduce the incident of claim losses because ultimately that makes everyone’s life easier,” he said. “It’s about harnessing all of that data to engage appropriately and reduce that risk to make the customer’s life safer and better.”

Our panellists agreed this journey will not be easy but it’s one worth taking, delivering a safer, healthier world for us all. 

Watch the full on-demand recording of the discussion here.