You have heard a lot – likely an awful lot – about the ways advances in technology are impacting customer experience in the insurance industry: how they drive service beyond what customers expect by adapting with them as their lives change, by managing changes to their plans and policies with ease, and by offering a consistent experience across platforms and interactions. All that’s needed is to tap into it, right? Not so fast, say those in the trenches.
A majority of respondents to a survey by ACORD, including insurers, agents, brokers and wholesalers, indicated they have not unlocked the power of digital to deliver positive business outcomes. In fact, 77 percent said they cannot optimize end-to-end customer experiences that go beyond the web-enabled front end into the middle and back office.
Digital interactions and measurably improved customer experience present an enormous opportunity. To avoid being part of the flailing majority, insurers have to focus on building specific capabilities in two areas: business and technology. In this post, we’re going to focus on business.
Building the Basics
To provide the best experience possible, insurers aim to have their digital experiences defined by five specific characteristics. Each plays an important role in maintaining the customer’s sense of importance, value, and respect. As such, no one characteristic is more important than the other; they’re pillars that support each other.
The absolute best insurance experience is described as being:
- Integrated across channels: Your customer’s portfolio, transactions, records, and other information and insights are integrated and tied together across channels.
- Unified throughout the lifecycle: Exchanges between you and your customer are dynamic, fluid and consistent throughout the lifecycle of the relationship through life changes and lifecycle shifts.
- Right context for every interaction: Throughout each interaction, you can keep the context and status of each interaction consistent and up-to-date as it moves between communication channels and adapts to the devices used.
- Real-time for immediate action: Real-time capabilities enable you to keep pace with customers and take immediate and appropriate action.
- Informed with customer insight: Your customer engagements are informed by a deeper understanding of the customer: their needs, their products, their history with you, and the reason that history exists.
What these capabilities support is individual digital interactions that bridge marketing, sales, policy servicing, billing and claims operations. With this approach, any policyholder, agent or user touchpoint delivers a rich, fully-connected experience. But while removing traditional barriers between multiple, siloed, policyholder servicing areas is very big first step – typically involving modernization and integrations of underlying core systems –one more step must be taken.
The five business capabilities outlined are certainly amazing, but having the ability to do something special and personal with them is a true differentiator. Personas allow that to happen.
What are personas? The term has become something of a buzzword in recent years, often denoting different things to different people. The most important thing to know is that personas aren’t based solely on demographic statistics or customer surveys. Rather, it’s a mix of those things and actual observation of customers. Not just the “what” they’re buying and the basics of “who” they are, but also the “why” of their decisions.
Many insurers have done extensive work in segmenting users, understanding customer journeys, and defining personas. The challenge many face is operationalizing those insights. The ability to build persona apps to customize and package services for specific situations is an excellent way to leverage these insights and to present great digital experiences to individuals that go beyond expectations.
A well-defined Persona should include characteristics that are role-based (such as customer, prospect, sales or service agent, claims adjuster, or underwriter), and profile-based (such as differing levels of skills or interests, and demographic and psychographic data) applied within a specific business context (buying, selling, servicing). Persona-based applications take these characteristics as guideposts to create and adapt user interface and business processes to present a personalized experience taking full advantage of device or cloud-based capabilities. In other words, a successful persona-based application requires contextual awareness to create a personalized and satisfying experience.
The vital role that modern digital experience platforms play in creating persona-driven experiences is skillfully described in a new report by SMA entitled: Building Loyalty and Engagement through Digital Experience in Insurance.
Expect your persona apps to:
- Be deployed through the devices and modes available within your omni-channel environment.
- Be customizable for a user role and based on how users interact. For example, an agent may use both a mobile and web-based version of their P&C agent persona app.
- Be easy to integrate with the functionality of the core systems.
As an example, insurance billing requires a variety of customer interactions, such as notification of invoice, reminders of invoice, and confirmation of payment and it is easy to see how persona apps can convert these to a digital experiences tailored to customers’ preferences.
There are many more potential applications for persona apps that will deepen engagement with your customers, producers and partners. By taking a strategic and thoughtful approach to building the five business capabilities outlined here, you will have a platform for digital insurance. Add persona-based digital interactions within that platform and you will be a digital standout among your peers.
Fazi Zand is senior vice president, Product, at EIS.