Digital expectations must drive insurance strategy

Insurers must be able to meet the digital needs of their customers to remain relevant, says Sune Ueckermann, operations manager at SilverBridge.

Johannesburg, 12 Jun 2019
Read time 3min 30sec
Sune Ueckermann, Operations Manager at SilverBridge
Sune Ueckermann, Operations Manager at SilverBridge

Sune Ueckermann, Operations Manager at SilverBridge, believes the connected world has fundamentally changed people’s expectations of service providers, including insurers. Fundamentally, they must be able to meet the digital needs of their customers to remain relevant. The attention that insurtechs are getting means there is no room to be patient about this transition any longer.

Thanks to how easy it has become to access all types of services, people are looking for more innovative and individualised solutions. This can be attributed to the pervasiveness of mobile devices, more affordable data rates, and faster Internet connectivity. Today, consumers are empowered with a wealth of information at their fingertips where they can easily compare prices, product benefits and value-added features, irrespective of the industry.

To a certain extent, insurance has traditionally been protected from high customer churn as it was about selling a brand image as much as a reputation of being able to deliver on claims when the worst should happen. However, in recent years, that has changed, thanks to the expectations that insurtechs created that they can deliver a more personalised service to customers. These expectations are intensified by the real-time availability of almost everything, from news to bank statements. Being able to transact immediately has become the norm.

Combining tech and people

“While it might sound contradictory to say, the sophisticated technology adopted by insurtechs enables them to deliver a better customer experience, often via an agent who has all relevant customer data in front of them.”

In fact, combining technology, data and advanced analytics ensure that an insurer can deliver on fluid customer expectations more easily. Building the tools to achieve this requires a fundamental understanding of customer requirements and the underlying technologies.

“Despite the insurance industry’s early adoption of technology for keeping data and workflow management, digital processing does not come naturally. Often apps, Web sites and call centres are used to maintaining daily operations without innovating process and customer engagement.”

She says the daily struggles to keep up with customer issues often leads to insurers missing out on significant opportunities to embrace a user-centric approach to product development and customer service.

“The upcoming insurtechs have an advantage of not having the legacy structures that are difficult to change of incumbents and they can put the customer at the centre of the digital experience. In this way, the customer remains at the forefront of all organisational aspects, instead of only being plugged in when it comes time to sell a policy.”

Beyond traditional

Clearly, the tools and data are available to insurers. The incumbents have massive amounts of customer data to leverage and they have the budgets to embrace all sorts of technology innovation, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analytics.

“A key part to becoming more digitally aware is aligning business units to share a common vision built around the customer. Instead of only developing new products, an insurer should evaluate its existing processes and see how it can enhance them to be more customer-centric. Potentially, an insurer can even partner with an insurtech to deliver complimentary offerings. In this way, they have the best of both worlds – an existing customer base and a potential new one that can be driven through the digital-first mindset of the insurtech.”

This shift is not something that can happen overnight. Yet, it is much-needed given the complexities of the modern consumer market and the challenging economic times businesses face.

“Digital is giving insurers the tools. They already have the data. Now, they just need to rethink using a customer perspective on delivering through the value chain. Change is inevitable and the sooner they embrace this, the better for their long-term success,” she concludes.

SilverBridge Holdings

SilverBridge has over 20 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 13 African countries. SilverBridge has introduced an enhanced service offering allowing financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology to help its clients do better business.

Editorial contacts
Gloria Malan (+27) 82 340 2876 gloria@rubicomm.co.za
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