Editor’s Note:Imran Ilyas’ co-author for this piece was Keval Mehta, who specializes in operationalizing digital strategy within PwC’s Advisory Services.
Situation: We are seeing an unprecedented investment by small-to-mid-sized carriers in policy, billing and claims transformation programs. This is creating the foundation for future strategic initiatives, such as digital strategy and data analytics. While these transformational programs are front and center of many carriers’ strategic spend, there is increased pressure to gain more value from these investments and engage the customers and agents in innovative ways.
Opportunity: Today, all roads lead to digital. Changes in consumer behaviors have driven the evolution of distribution channels and how carriers interact with customers and agents. 45 percent of carriers expect distribution destruction, where customers buy direct and even form groups to negotiate bulk direct purchases. As customers demand simplicity, transparency and speed in transactions, technologies such as B2C, digital capabilities for B2B, mobile, and social media have become key strategic investments.
Complexity: Digital’s strategic prominence is undisputable. However, companies that cannot effectively operationalize digital strategy will be at a competitive disadvantage. Such a disadvantage occurs when a digital strategy considers only one dimension of innovation and gives too little thought to other dimensions, including consumer-centricity, product, technology, and other business functions, as well as how they can all work together to create a market differentiator.
Digital Strategy Design Considerations: Here are ten key considerations for carriers as they design their digital strategy:
- What are the architecture design considerations? Many carriers are attempting to determine if their existing policy administration packages can adapt to meet the digital needs (e.g., the online sales channel) or if their architecture should be service oriented and build custom user interfaces on top of policy administration platforms. When making this decision, carriers must consider their overall business strategy, target customer base, cost of implementation and maintenance, IT resource skills, organization structure, business flexibility, and speed to market. Depending on each carrier’s unique circumstances, they should carefully evaluate these factors in order to create the optimal digital architecture.
- How can we create seamless, cross-channel capability? While investments in digital initiatives open up new channels and capabilities, such as online, mobile, social media and analytics, carriers must ensure that they develop these capabilities in such a way to provide an omnichannel experience without alienating agents. Carriers should apply a B2C and B2B lens to digital capabilities in order to minimize unforeseen agency disruption.
- What are the wider implications across the value chain such as self-service? Digital strategy is no exception to the Kano model of customer satisfaction. Beyond online sales capabilities, customers will demand similar functionality in servicing, claims and billing. As carriers look to operationalize their digital strategy, they will need to offer consistent functionality in order to provide a holistic digital experience.
- What are other operational considerations? Unlike the traditional agency channel, the online channel comes with greater operational requirements, including uptime, response time, ease of use, streamlined transactions, and IT security. Transactional ease, stability and security all are critical for the carrier’s digital brand, sales, and customer satisfaction and retention.
- How can social media drive B2B and B2C sales? Carriers can use social media to generate demand and get customers in door. However, careful communication standards, analytics, and technology integration with various social media sites will help maximize value.
- How can the online channel facilitate business process efficiency and cross-selling opportunities? Carriers must define key success criteria for the digital channel and be open to try and test new capabilities that promise better sales and retention metrics. An effective implementation of the digital solution with PAS can help drive simplified processes that leverage data pre-fill capabilities and customer data mining to drive cross-selling of other products, either during new business generation or during self-servicing.
- How can we streamline the underwriting process? With customer-centricity in mind, carriers should look for opportunities to redesign and automate underwriting processes that make transactions simple and easy for customers. However, this should extend beyond the online channel to captive and independent agents. An efficient underwriting process will help reduce an agent’s administrative burden and in turn help them focus on generating more sales.
- How can digital data drive continuous improvement? Careful implementation of customer analytics capabilities can help carriers monitor both transactional and non-transactional interactions and gain deeper insights into customer behavior. In turn, these insights can help create a better user experience and more efficient product design, and help identify new consumer needs.
- How can we effectively deliver product bundling online? Carriers have an opportunity to improve customer retention by bundling products via the digital channel. However, in order to promote a “shopping cart experience” for customers, they will need to identify ways to optimize people, process and technology to facilitate the information sharing that leads to bundled purchases.
- What are some product risk considerations? The digital channel attracts a riskier and somewhat fickle customer base. In order to minimize exposure to higher risk customers and frequent switchers, it is critical for carriers to implement operational processes and technology solutions that safeguard their desired risk profile and policyholder retention.
In closing, carriers should maximize the value of their significant investments in policy, claims and billing core platforms. By carefully considering the ten factors we list above, carriers can better focus on how to effectively operationalize their digital strategy by leveraging their core transformations. Are you ready to capitalize on the new wave of digital opportunity for B2B and B2C consumers?