The arrow of innovation points directly from modern core systems to the customer, says Duck Creek Technologies UK Senior Sales Director Andrew How.
Boasting nearly EUR250 billion in annual gross written premium, the UK insurance market is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. As well as leading in terms of size and maturity, the UK market has also sharpened its focus on improving customer experiences in recent years.
Insurance businesses of all sizes are actively exploring how to use cutting edge technology to define and update user experiences, with a focus on making the entire experience of buying relevant insurance products a much easier one for today’s discerning customer.
But with so much innovation and choice in a market so large, how do insurers make sure they are getting it right?
A people business
“Insurance is a people business”—you’ve heard that a thousand times. And yet conceptually and technologically, most insurers consider back office systems and risk data as the central asset to their operations. Until recently, the best providers offered access to data for customers – either directly or via brokers, MGAs and other distribution partners – with the intent of streamlining customer interactions and harnessing data for central reporting.
This is prompting new thinking about the customer and insurer experience, and how to place consumers at the centre of the business to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Today, chat, email, and apps are old tech. With the ‘consumerisation’ of IT, customers are doing business via artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, smart speakers, and smartphones, and they are eager to serve themselves with that technology.
To offer all that, and whatever comes next, insurers now need openness, access to external data, and the ability to make sense of it all quickly. That means they’ll need analytics, Natural Language Processing, or even Artificial Intelligence, and a platform from which to digitally engage with the world. That’s the next digital customer experience; that’s a digital engagement platform.
Operations-Centric. Start Being Customer-Centric
Let’s talk about technology for a moment, starting with the word “portal.” It conjures the image of a tiny window on a big ship. In our world, it’s a gateway to back-end operations, and it’s been focused on the transactional aspects of the business. Customer-centric insurers recognise that a portal into back-end operations is no longer sufficient for technology-enabled consumers, who are enjoying excellent customer experiences elsewhere.
When you become truly customer-centric, you understand that your customer isn’t going to sit there and answer a hundred questions or more just so you can determine price and coverage. You may get three or four answers from them before they lose interest—and go looking for a provider that offers ease and speed.
That’s because excellent customer experiences increasingly are dependent on consumer technology, which obviously is external, as is related data – from data brokers, cloud technology, service providers and so on.
What will matter most to insurers soon is the openness and configurability of their new core systems, and their ability to “play nicely” with those external systems and data. A next-generation digital engagement platform won’t be dependent on legacy back-end operations; nor will it care how complicated it is to determine risk and coverage, how long it takes to do so, or whether your inputs are manual or automated.
When the customer is all-important, a customer engagement platform becomes part of your core. So, how will we make the leap from portal to engagement? It’s going to be through design that gives insurers the tools they need to focus on content, marketing, and customer satisfaction, and it’s going to be driven by data to achieve that with flexibility and configurability at product and service levels.
A 360 degree view
The insurer of the future will need industry-leading digital engagement tools, a 360-degree view of a customer’s entire data set throughout their journey with their insurer, and an integrated technology suite that seamlessly passes all of this data through every phase of an insurer’s relationship with their customers.
As consumers demand more from insurers, and emerging technologies enable insurers to deliver on that demand, the path to future success will depend upon adopting these tools and using them to innovate faster than ever before.
In a time when rising inflation and interest rates are pointing towards challenging times for the insurance sector, it will be a bumpy road but the right technology and customer-centric approach will drive success for insurers and a more relevant and streamlined experience for customers. Customer retention is critical – making customers, not sales, is the priority for 2023 and beyond.
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