Customer-Centricity in the Insurance Industry

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The insurance industry is one often met with mixed emotions. It’s a product that most individuals have to purchase in their lifetime, and the process of acquiring it requires people to make important, potentially impactful decisions about their future while probably not having a complete understanding about the product they’re buying and “how to use it”, if and when the time comes. Not to mention, for one to get their “money’s worth” on a purchase, something often has to go awry in their life. Needless to say, it’s complicated.

In recent years, The Moment has been both observing and working closely with organizations within the sector. Last month, in an effort to deepen my perspective on the types of problems and opportunities the industry is facing, I attended Insurtech North. The virtual conference brought leading innovation teams from incumbent insurance companies and startups from across the ecosystem together to provide a forum to catalyze growth within the industry. 



A major takeaway I left with was this: There is an increasing interest and urgency to organize and orient entire functional teams around providing a seamless and delightful experience throughout entire customer journeys, including buying insurance, changing their coverage over time, making a claim, and ultimately, renewing. 

With this in mind, here are the key enablers I believe are necessary to provide an end to end customer-centric insurance experience:

Align around KPIs

Picture this: At XYZ Insurance, the main goal for the call centre team is having low handle times. At the other end of the building, the marketing department is incentivized to provide customers with highly personalized service. While the disconnect here may not be immediately apparent, its effect on the customer experience can be irreconcilable. Oftentimes that pain is felt most acutely by front line teams who receive mixed communications from management about what the priorities are for that month or quarter, and this confusion negatively impacts the customer experience directly.

When two (or more) functional teams have different objectives, targets, and varying definitions of success, it’s inevitable that the customer will experience a disjointed series of events across their journey. Therefore, aligning the KPI’s of your entire Journey Team enables a coherent strategy, prioritization of innovation initiatives towards a clear North Star, and a demonstrable consistency across any touch point along the Journey.

Don’t rely solely on digital

In recent years, I’ve observed some organizations carrying the faulty belief that “digital” is synonymous with excellent customer experience. There’s no denying that harnessing technology to offer up robust online experiences is foundational to success. However, I would argue that digital strategy is not the be all, end all.

One interesting sentiment I heard at InsurTech North was that “Humans will always want to validate an important decision with another human.” Instinctively, we all know this to be true. At the same time, the insurance industry has historically struggled with an opaque nature that has left many customers unclear about what exactly they are purchasing. Having a trusted human there for the critical moments when a customer needs validation or advice is essential for insurance companies to attract and retain customers.

Yes, technology such as AI and tools such as Behavioural Economics can absolutely be used to craft bespoke journeys for people and to automate certain tasks, but organizations that subscribe to the idea that “everything must be automated” run the risk of creating disappointed customers and prospects.

Organize by Journey, not by function

Similar to aligning around KPI’s, companies looking to provide stellar service should consider organizing their team roles by Journey, such as “Claims”, as opposed to functions, such as “IT”.

The benefit of this customer-centric approach starts with a mindset shift. Immediately, everyone on the team begins to adopt an “entrepreneurial” spirit about helping the customer accomplish their mission, eg. Get that Claim Settled! In this scenario, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards should support this mindset that focuses primarily on outcomes, not outputs.

When we have seen teams reorganize in this way, we immediately see teams that are:

  • Laser focused on the KPIs that drive customer satisfaction and retention, reminiscent of a “start up” mentality.
  • Solution driven, working as a team across functions to solve customer irritants.
  • More agile to respond to competitors and shifting market conditions.
  • “Handoff” time in projects is drastically reduced because the project goals are co-created and understood at a deep level. Very little rework is required as projects progress.

Leading a team that is focused on Journey, from start to finish, means that leaders will have to be knowledgeable, but not experts at lots of different functions, and very good at facilitating, orchestrating, managing different skill sets, all in service of a brilliant customer journey that is ultimately greater than the individual touch points.

Think outside the four walls

Innovation cannot exist in an organization that maintains the status quo, and reaching outside the four walls of your office to form partnerships with industry-adjacent companies may just be the ticket to greater success.

InsurTech North and its diversity of attendees reminded me that there are a variety of organizations that, when partnered with, could enable insurance companies to provide unique services. Among the many opportunities primed for discovery, an organization could consider partnering with a company that is letting patients track their pain management in order to manage downstream risk and enhance patient wellness before people make insurance claims. (Check out the very cool work that is doing.)

All and all, thinking about a customer journey in terms of what happens before or after they’re engaging with your company could unlock opportunities to offer innovative, novel services and delightful experiences.

Mapping the customer journey is the first step to providing excellent service. If you enjoyed reading Daniel’s thoughts on how to provide exceptional customer service in a complex industry, you may be interested in our case study on how we assisted a major financial institution in reworking its estate services to be customer-centric. Check it out here!