Over the past few years, changes in customer behaviours have spurred the rise of digital innovation in the insurance industry. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) led to a disruption in the health sector with a surge in claims interruption from reduced business activities, and less use of face-to-face channels. Within hours and days (not weeks), insurance leaders were forced to rethink their business models.

COVID-19 forced insurance companies to embrace change and to figure out new ways of working. And this is true for all businesses. In the new normal, customers now expect to transact digitally. With the ever-increasing need for remote working, shopping and socialisation, digital interactions and virtual communications is the way to go. To deliver on these expectations, insurers need to rethink their customer acquisition and servicing models and respond to the continuous evolution in customer behaviours.

Where and how to start?

Digital services and emerging technologies can generate efficiencies but there are still some aspects of the insurance industry that require human intervention. Rethinking customer experience takes much more than just adding call centres or developing a mobile platform.

Understanding what customers want and aligning the experience on offer to their needs will help to build a better customer experience overall.

There are four fundamentals to help incumbents start with the right mindset:

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes 

Firms across industries need to continuously meet customer expectations. If you want to address the right customer pain points, you need to experience what it is like to interact with your company. One instance of poor customer service can result in your customer shifting to another insurer. 

The consequences of poor customer service are amplified through the reach of social media – Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and others. In this digital era, one poorly handled claim can lead to a brand-damaging crisis. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes will help you understand the ‘moment of truths’ and hence differentiate from competition.

2. Deploy Customer Insights

Data is the essence of insurance companies. With Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, you can understand what happened in the past, forecast what will happen in the future and, even more powerful – how you can influence it! Such insights can improve your customer strategy as it puts more emphasis on an individual’s unique characteristics, hence enabling personalisation. 

Customer experience is driven by a small set of key ‘moments of truths’ (MoT) across the customer journey. Customer analytics helps you get it right to ‘wow’ your customers across each MoT.

3. Redesign customer journeys using digital elements

Start with reinventing how you address customers’ needs by understanding new customer behaviours and consumption patterns. Then, optimise resources by accelerating digital transformation, upgrading existing technologies, and reallocating resources.

It is easy for customers to transition from one insurance provider to another. The focus should be on attracting customers and then simplifying the onboarding process and servicing cycle in a digitally seamless manner.

4. Build customer centricity into the organisation

For many insurance companies, there’s currently a mismatch between customer expectations and how employees deliver. Arming employees with the right innovation and information that they require to best serve customers, could help to close this gap. Your employees’ performance should be linked to your customers’ feedback on the service delivered.

Each of these fundamentals can yield a better experience, but the full impact is seen only when the four are working in tandem!

Taking action

To build and maintain a competitive edge amid all these changes, insurance companies need to commit financial resources and invest in human capabilities to deliver on customer-centricity. Best-in-class players are already ahead of the game, reaping cascading benefits of such investments.

For incumbents that understand the need to put the customer at the heart of their business, each interaction across the customer journey becomes a way to live up to their brand promise. Companies are re-inventing new ways to service customers with technology as the accelerator. 

Below is a preview of how your customers’ journey might be transformed.

Insurance - Customer Experience

“There is no time to wait. The opportunities for incumbents to differentiate through a more connected customer experience are prominent and growing.”

Rethink now

With COVID-19 as a catalyst for change, insurers that fail to rethink their customer experience now risk falling behind as market leaders are already building trusted relationships with customers and increasing their customer life-time value.

There is no time to wait. The opportunities for incumbents to differentiate through a more connected customer experience are prominent and growing. Of course, such transformation is challenging for any organisation, but the value at stake is significant. The saying is hence still valid: “Customer loyalty is not built overnight, but over time, nourished by digital and physical experiences consistently across the customer’s journey.” 

PwC has helped numerous incumbents in their transition from a traditional to a more customer centric organisation. Our engagements with clients helped them to:

  • Learn about new customer behaviour using data analytics across different channels;
  • Understand that their customers are going online more than ever before. Hence, there is a shift in decision power from brands to customers. The focus should be on delivering a memorable experience both online and offline;
  • Reallocate their resources and employees where they are gaining more conversion;
  • Personalise the experience they are providing by integrating a proper customer relationship management approach, which includes their employees; and
  • Optimise their resources and touchpoints by identifying key bottlenecks. 

Customers, more than ever, have the power to dictate how and when they want to do business with you – and if you aren’t available, someone else will be. Now is the time to reinvent your ways to play and put customers at the heart of your business.