Remember when the model for engaging with consumers was as simple as sending out enrollers with disconnected laptops and that was considered high tech? How times have changed. It's now a consumer-centric environment where consumers expect to choose how, where and when to interact. In a consumer-centric environment expectations run high, the long term success rate of group-based carriers and voluntary insurers depends on the ability to interact in an omnichannel environment – a bar set particularly high by the retail industry. The fact is, given the sheer range of channel options and product choices that exist in the marketplace today, insurers have a tremendous opportunity to build a strong connection with consumers.
However, while insurers have been living in a multichannel environment for years – providing call center, email, online, fax and other interactions - and always looking for ways to improve channel integration, the digital omnichannel world has an entirely different approach. Picture now that your customers can make a policy change on a mobile device and then moments later contact your call center or bring up your website and it is there, instantaneously. But to truly understand the importance of the omnichannel environment, you need to go back a decade or two.
In the past, the objective to improve channel connectivity in the insurance industry hinged on transaction efficiency and the ability to reduce channel costs – not so much on improving the overall consumer experience. Remember the original "push to the web" in the 90s? The business case was made by the fact that transactional costs on the web were a mere fraction of phone or paper. While efficiency and cost will always be a critical factor, an investment in the omnichannel world centers on improving the overall customer experience and creating positive implications for new sales, retention and overall profitability.
The key differentiator in an omnichannel environment today is that it considers the customer view (outside-in) from the very beginning. So rather than working to integrate channels that have been created in silos (phone, web, mobile), an omnichannel approach leverages a unified, single database to support all channels and connects to core systems on the back end.
Have you seen those satellite TV commercials where the customer starts watching a movie in one room and continues, seamlessly, in another room or on another device? Now that’s a great omnichannel experience.
New technology exists to deliver this omnichannel experience to the insurance world. It centers on the carriers administrative platform. It's a platform that has the customer at the core and the distribution channels as spokes. It's a platform that is built on modern technologies that can seamlessly integrate with web, CTI, mobile, online enrollers, and exchanges. Each channel draws from that same consumer-centric database so that a transaction started on the phone can continue in a web page or even a mobile app when it's convienient for the consumer. Now doesn't that start to resemble those fantastic satellite TV ads and make insurance feel more like a consumer centric product?
Does your core insurance system have the capabilities to be the centerpiece of an omnichannel model?
To read more about connectivity, be sure to download our new E book: “Eliminating Barriers to Connectivity.”