Customer Experience: Catalyst Or Beneficiary Of Digital Transformation?

Cristiano Barbieri

Second of three blogs about SulAmérica and part of the “Digital CIO” series

What’s the difference between a top industry leader and everyone else? A customer experience that resonates with every person it reaches.

Think about the brands you use every day. From your smartphone and car to your favorite retailers and your next vacation destination, your loyalty is likely based on the convenience, ease, and newness of the customer experience.

Mobile apps, text messaging, social media, and expectations for response and action at the moment of need have quickly become a natural part of everyone’s daily life. As I explained in my first blog, my team and I used these same experiences as a source of inspiration when SulAmérica started to consider digitalizing our business operations. For us to maintain our position as the fourth-largest insurance company in Brazil, it was critical that every digital initiative fits perfectly into this new reality.

The bottom-line essence of our digital transformation is fundamental to our success: To improve the experience of every customer – and the people providing the services – with an integrated, always-on digital platform for 24×7, agile gathering, and sharing of information.

Customer experience leads digital transformation

Our mission is to safeguard our customers from the financial implications of unforeseen events and to make everyday life easier. To fulfill this vision, it is imperative that we tailor the right experiences to the right customers. This focus can be quite a challenge when serving a multigenerational customer base. However, the digital tools available today are opening up new approaches, channels, and ways of working that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

One prime example is the development and rollout of a mobile app that allowed our health insurance division to accelerate the out-of-network patient reimbursement process. In the past, the process took upwards of 10 days for a customer to receive repayment, largely because of the delays caused by the need for manual steps.

By introducing mobile technology and artificial intelligence into the process, the business delivered a solution that matches the expectation of today’s digitally savvy customers. The process is triggered by uploading a picture of the provider’s bill into the app. Artificial intelligence processes the request immediately, and the customer is repaid within 24 hours.

Within months after the mobile app was made publicly available to our 3 million healthcare insurance customers, 1.5 million users downloaded the app. They continue to use it to this day. Customer satisfaction significantly increased. But from an internal perspective, it helped us operate at a level of efficiency, speed, and cost-effectiveness that challenged how the rest of the Brazilian insurance market competes.

Improving customer experiences strengthens competitive advantage

Every change enabled by digital transformation has been about SulAmérica’s customer. We can now confidently enter new emerging markets such as microinsurance products that give low-income households an affordable opportunity to protect themselves. Plus, our portfolio can be expanded to answer the needs of precisely defined customer profiles.

The more we improve the customer experience, the more disruption we’ve injected into the Brazilian insurance market. By letting the customer experience inspire our initiatives, we adjusted our organizational structure, changed how people work, and opened up more ways for customers to interact with us.

More important, the faster we continue to address every nuanced shift in our customers’ social, environmental, and economic needs, the more likely that we will lead the industry and further distance ourselves from the competition.

Read Part 1 of this series: The Rise Of The Dual-Role CIO Redefines Digital Commitment.


Cristiano Barbieri

About Cristiano Barbieri

Cristiano Barbieri is chief information officer and head of customer relationships at SulAmerica Seguros. He has been leading the digital transformation of the company, spearheading important initiatives including "Transforming the Customer Experience," which created a 360-degree view of the customer, and "A New Customer Platform," totally cloud based. "A New Digital Customer Journey" recently launched where more than 2 million calls a year were transformed into digital interactions. He has also created an experimentation lab within the company named "Innovation Garage," another important initiative where culture transformation is the main goal and drives many innovative projects.