Don’t Get Lost in the Maze: How to Use Customer Needs as a Guide to Your Technology Transformation

By using your customers and their expectations as a guiding point, you can avoid unnecessary expense and the postponement of financial benefit.

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(Image credit: Adobe Stock.)

In my most recent article, I outlined a roadmap for how P&C carriers can begin to launch their technology transformation. But in my many years working with insurance carriers, I’ve found that despite the best laid plans, it’s easy to go off course.

This is particularly true when it comes to making a significant departure from the status quo—as is the case when carriers are trying to become more digital. Finding and following your North Star, as cliché as it sounds, is the best way to ensure your organization is able to stay on track.

For P&C carriers, savvy organizations will quickly recognize that their North Star is their customers’ needs. As these insurers look to further their technology transition, aligning their evolution with their customers is the best route to success. As you build your technology transformation roadmap, here are a few common customer needs to keep in mind.

What They Want, When They Want It

Advancements in mobile technology have disrupted almost every industry. Further, in many cases—from the way we interact with our personal and professional networks to how we get from point A to B—it has even become the standard. Yet despite the fact that, on average, Americans spend 87 hours on their mobile phones per month and that 36 percent of millennials have made a decision on where to spend money or switched companies based on the mobile capability of that brand, the insurance industry lags behind when it comes to related capabilities.

It’s clear that insureds have mobile expectations that carriers aren’t meeting. As a result, when looking to advance their technology transformation, this can be a good place to focus. Begin by recognizing that you won’t be able to deliver a seamless mobile experience overnight. Rather, pick one area to prioritize. Would customers benefit from text message alerts? How about push notifications? Or maybe a mobile claims submission capability is a pressing customer demand?

Regardless of where you start, small, but substantial, changes overtime won’t just help make the process feel more manageable, it will help ensure you’re continuously tracking against customer expectations. After all, and as I mentioned in my previous post, your technology transformation is a marathon, not a sprint.

Trust Reigns Supreme

According to a 2015 IBM survey, only 37 percent of respondents trust their own insurance carrier. If this number isn’t striking enough, consider the fact that trust is consistently ranked as a top factor by consumers when it comes to building brand loyalty.

Investing in technologies that can help meet customer trust expectations should therefore be a high priority for carriers. Data-sharing capabilities that support the free, albeit secure, flow of information between various departments within their organization—and ideally with their agent and broker partners—can help move this needle (fortunately, and as I noted in my previous blog, many can use their existing legacy IT system as a foundation for this capability).

How? The de-siloing of customer information will not only cut out system redundancies, but enable carriers and their agent and broker partners to have a holistic understanding of each individual customer. Rather than wasting time on low-value data collection tasks, carriers, agents and brokers can instead spend more time counseling clients on specific loss control and risk mitigation best practices—trust building activities that better service customers.

Partnership for Life

There is a common misconception among insurance carriers that their digital transformation is complete once they have increased access to customer data. In reality, that’s only half the battle.

Instead, as customers increasingly share their personal information with companies, they in turn expect organizations to offer more customized and relevant products and services. For P&C carriers, this means that as they’re able to tap into the IoT and customer data, insureds expect something more than a one-size-fits-all policy, but protection that fits their unique risk profile—be it an auto policy that is based on how far employees drive (Metromile) or coverage that kicks in only when property is in-use (Trov). As a result, carriers can’t end their digital transformation upon the acquisition of customer data. Rather, the onboarding of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that can analyze such data and provide in-depth customer insight should be a critical part of their evolution.

As an aside, and while not a customer expectation per se, there are real cross- and up-selling business implications associated with investments in these technologies that are important to mention. As carriers are able to offer more tailored products that meet individual needs, they’ll increasingly be viewed by customers as a partner, not a vendor. As a customer’s risk profile evolves over time, they’ll see their carrier as someone who understands their unique needs, subsequently increasingly the likelihood that they’ll buy additional products and coverages from their existing carrier. In other words, there are both short- and long-term benefits associated with investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Arriving on the Other Side

A carrier’s technology transformation can be an ever-evolving and lengthy process. Unfortunately, taking a detour down the wrong path can cause significant delays—resulting in additional expenses and postponing financial benefit. But by using your customers and their expectations as a guiding point, you can avoid such missteps. As you embark on your technology journey, ask yourself: how well do you know your customers?

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