Six Steps To Disrupting The Customer Experience

Mike Key

Until recently, the insurance industry was one built on personal relationships. Insurance agents had years of experience and a portfolio of customers they knew as not just policyholders, but as people—people they met at soccer games or through recommendations from friends. Agents would work with customers throughout life changes and could write policies on the basis of just a few simple questions. The customer experience for insurance revolved around the agent relationship.

This model is changing, and it’s changing quickly. Customers are now seeking their own economy, and with the power of the Internet they can compare rates, ask friends for recommendations, and read online reviews with just a few taps on their phones. The industry now revolves around the customer, and new entrants to the industry are poised to capitalize on this shift.

A transformation is needed to provide a better customer experience that is more centered on adding customer value. With the diminished role insurance agents now play, customer understanding and insight must come from data and the ability to use it to provide a real-time contextual and personalized customer experience.

So how can your company take the lead in this transformation?

1. Use internal and external, structured and unstructured data

Traditionally in the insurance industry, the focus has been on internal structured data: coverage, risk, premiums, and more. But this data doesn’t tell us about customer intentions or give us any context. So moving forward, other types of data, including unstructured data, must be used to understand the whole customer experience. This includes issues like:

  • What insurance ads and Web pages were visited and by whom?
  • What do your customers say about you? Did you know if your customer is an advocate for you on social media?
  • Is your customer interested in antiques, art, high fashion, or world travel?

Bringing in all this data, and having the right tools to analyze it, means that companies will be able to create better customer experiences, ultimately selling more policies.

2. Live omnichannel

Gone are the days when a customer’s only interaction was at the insurance office or even just the insurance website. Customers are interacting with companies and making decisions from notebooks, smartphone apps, tablets, over the phone, and even on their watches. Increasingly, customers have an omnichannel, multi-device path to picking a policy, and you need to be there for them every step of the way. Create a plan to follow customers across channels and devices, adding value while delivering a consistent message and seamless experience.

3. Establish a real-time experience

Personal experiences are immediate – in a meeting with an agent, the conversation and information provided can turn on a dime. In order to replicate that in the digital world, analytics has only an instant to propose the next step and deliver the best content to help make an optimal decision. Real-time technology is critical and context is essential to deliver the best experience possible. Last week’s (or even yesterday’s) data and insights just won’t do.

4. Simplify the customer experience through end-to-end processes

Filling in forms, repetitively entering data, and contacting the call center multiple times about a single issue all lead to a poor customer experience. End-to-end digital processes must use existing information, avoid integration gaps, and eliminate barriers. To provide a personalized customer experience, you need to support highly automated and standardized business processes within and across your company, from customer interaction through underwriting and claims management.

5. Advance to adviser status

Even though the industry is moving toward automation and data-based customer interactions, customers still expect insurance companies to serve the role of trusted adviser. That role is just moving from in-person and over the phone to emails and app notifications. Personalized offers are certainly important, but they don’t necessarily qualify as advisory. Personalized information and advice make the experience more about the customer, and it offers insurers the opportunity to engage with customers beyond renewals and claims. Examples might include advice on winterizing their home or personalized notices about automobile manufacturer recalls. The costs are low and the returns are high as customers begin to see their insurers as being more advisory – which in turn increases their loyalty and advocacy.

6. Expand the business model

To provide additional customer value and foster more continuous customer engagement, innovative insurers are combining forces with external goods and service providers. This expanded model focuses on both the customer and their insured assets. For example, auto insurance could partner with auto suppliers or home insurance with local contractors. Besides the added value such partnerships bring to customers, it offers insurers the ability to monetize the customer base.

Learn more about the changing customer experience, and how SAP Hybris solutions can help, by reading the whitepaper “Insurance – Coming of Age in a Digital Future.”

Also, please check out the infographic The Insurance Industry’s Digital Moment is Now.


Mike Key

About Mike Key

Mike Key is an SAP VP with a global role responsible for Insurance Solutions Go To Market. Mike has over 25 years of experience all in leveraging technology for the insurance industry and has held roles directly for insurance companies as CIO of P&C companies, CIO of a Group of Life Companies, and Executive Operational responsibilities for Agency Management, New Business, Policy Servicing, Billing, and Claims for a Life company. Mike has also held executive positions in Insurance BPO organizations and technology positions in companies including EDS and Capgemini, prior to joining SAP.