Before discussing how the transformation should occur, it is extremely important to understand why the transformation is necessary. According to Roland Scharrer, director of data and emerging technologies of the group, AXA, this is because the fundamental relationship between insurer and insured is changing. “You are building a partnership with the client and you shouldn’t be seen just once a year.” This is part of AXA’s “payer to partner” strategy.
“The more consumers invest in their connected devices – cars, homes, watches – the more you build a partnership with them,” adds James Barnard, CIO, shared services and divestments of Aviva tech. “Wherever they go, you go with them. You act like a guardian angel.
There is no doubt that there are certainly many more opportunities through digital transformation to play a bigger role in consumers’ lives – increasing engagement and ultimately ROI. But it is also a place to tread lightly. “It’s important to be guided by what the customer wants and where we think we can add value to the process,” warns Anita Fernqvist, UK data manager and chief operating officer, Zurich Insurance. She notes that not every stage of every insurance relationship needs the “white glove” treatment. Simple, automated efficiency can also add value.
“That point of interaction could be touchless, it could be automated, it could be empathetic — it could be all three,” reveals Chirag Jindal, Head of Insurance, Americas, ServiceNow. “Insurance is a promise and we need to wrap up the customer journey story with that promise in mind. But how you combine that with the technology to deliver it and let the customer choose – that’s the problem we’re trying to solve. And, he adds, “we have to be consistent.”
This is the biggest challenge facing insurers. The customer has expectations, set not by other insurers but by companies like Netflix, Amazon and ASOS. They expect the process to just work. Making this process work end-to-end, no matter what, is far from simple.
“You have a lot of expectations of an Amazon-like digital experience, but insurance is a very complex product and you have to serve the customer at very specific moments of truth,” Scharrer warns. This is something that insurance companies may have been doing for centuries, but while it offers tremendous experience, it also comes with significant hurdles.
“For an organization like ours, the real challenge is to update our core infrastructure, cloud capability, robotics and intelligent automation to meet what consumers expect from us today,” Barnard reveals. Being constantly available, leveraging digital currency, and ensuring a seamless transition to what can often be more than 70 years of legacy.
So this cohesion that Jindal talks about begins to look like a pipe dream, given the scale of the challenge. The challenge of bringing a sprawling global insurer with decades of legacy systems and customer insights into a seamless end-to-end experience in one smooth action.
Add to this that policyholders are not just large organizations, they serve an extremely diverse audience. “We have very different customer segments and that means there is no one size fits all. We need to be very clear about what real time really brings to customers, for example. In other places, [the importance could be] relational [interactions] with digital interventions, rather than end-to-end,” insists Fernqvist.
Sometimes it can seem like there are obstacles at every turn. Cloud transformation, for example, is seen as bringing major advancements in insurers’ ability to overcome legacy issues, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. “On the one hand, we need the cloud to provide the infrastructure elasticity, scale and availability,” says Scharrer, “and at the same time you need to ensure a high level of data privacy standard. “. And again, he adds, transforming the inherited environment.
The way the data is processed in the transformation element is critical. As a heavily regulated industry, one could argue that insurance actually has an edge against a data-skeptical public. His confidence is surely earned through these tightly defined parameters. Fernqvist agrees: “Trust is key. It’s up to us to serve [our customers’] needs, we need their data. We have to be able to manage that in a way that we gain and keep that trust. Regulations help us protect our customers and ensure that we build with the customer in mind. »
Data governance is therefore a major concern and again, due to the often diffuse and complex nature of insurance organisations, not easy to manage. “The ethical use of data is very important. We have 18.5 million unique customers and that’s a huge amount of data. The use of third-party enrichment has improved the level playing field, but with it comes greater accountability,” suggests Barnard.
Scharrer adds that creating a data-driven or data-driven culture is key. He says it’s about bringing “a data-driven culture that is understood from the claims handler to the business decision makers. Bring the whole organization behind it, either through incentives or governance, so that it is protected and leveraged as an asset.
Of course, it can only be truly leveraged as an asset if the right people can access the right information at the right time. Organizing where data is kept and how it fits into multiple workflows can be a mind-bogglingly complex task, but Jindal has a few suggestions that tie in closely with how integrating new channels and technologies can operate more effectively across the organization.
“You need some sort of orchestration layer that can tie the broker experience to the middle and back offices, and pass it down the value chain,” he advises. “At every stage of the journey, everyone should know what the status is. How you orchestrate that has been the biggest challenge that insurers talk about. Specifically from a data organization perspective, he adds, “How do you present the right data to the right person at the right time? You don’t want to overwhelm them. What does a claims or customer service agent really need to look at? Fernqvist agrees, saying, “One of the big challenges with data is figuring out what needs to be centralized, but also how do we make sure we decentralize to enable innovation.”
Innovation in this context is essential. The world is changing rapidly and insurers must be able to make the most of the latest technologies, which are themselves heavily dependent on quality data, to stay ahead of the game. Scharrer points to the use of AI to be able to ingest other data sources such as documents, photos and satellite technology to accelerate and enrich customer interactions, but cautions against rushing and stressing the importance of data quality. “We expected AI to solve all our database and customer journey problems. But people are realizing that it’s still hard work.
Barnard is not discouraged, however: “Cognitive learning is a really powerful tool. This is where we start unlocking the value of rich data and it has come a long way in the past three years. This whole process, Barnard concludes, “is a really exciting journey that we’ve only just begun.”
To learn how ServiceNow can enable digital transformation and improve experiences in your organization, visit servicenow.com/transform-insurance