Improving the Customer Experience Journey Within the Insurance Industry

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On Thursday 12th May we gathered at the iconic Café Sydney for Adam Higgins' very first round table event, gathering Senior Leaders from across the Insurance industry...

The conversation centred around Digital Transformation and how organisations are driving improvements in their Customer Experience journeys. After a brief period of introduction from both myself and our chairperson Farrah Hayes, we kicked off and dove into a discussion around must-win battles – how companies are approaching their CX strategies and how they are striving to differentiate themselves.

Must Win Battles

The overwhelming feeling around the room was that many of our industry’s leading Insurance firms are perhaps behind the curve, particularly compared to other industries such as Telecommunications and Aviation, in how they are improving the customer journey innovatively. The reality appears that many Insurers are reliant on their brand reputation and force of habit – “My Dad used NRMA so now I do” being one of the sentiments.

There was definitely an acknowledgment that Digitalisation and modernisation need to happen and would add lots of value, but how quickly can these long-standing organisations pivot? Many companies have scaled through acquisition, which has created the challenge of amalgamating a multitude of legacy systems into one single view channel, which won't happen overnight and will influence how much can change quickly at the front end. There is also the additional challenge of how data interlinks, which lead to the next stage of our conversation around the role of Technology and People. Many Insurers are looking to form the perfect picture of their customers, but they aren’t using data anywhere near as effectively as they could be.

 

People and Technology

We discussed at length the equilibrium between Technology and People in conjunction with improving the

experience of our customers and the relationship between AI, data, and the human element. The reality seemed to be that whilst organisations are automating several processes, perhaps inevitably there is still a widespread feeling that nothing can truly replicate the human element, as people will always remember how they felt in that moment. Insurance, of course, is associated with issues of high sensitivity, whether it is regarding a car crash, a house fire, or some form of theft. In that moment the individual

concerned will want to feel that they are being looked after, and whilst Technology’s role is to make processes far more effective,

there is no replacement for the high-touch personal role that a human can play in that instant. Technology should however be used effectively in order to extract and utilise data in order for organisations to formulate a better view of their customer and to manage their relationship with the consumer in a much more focused manner; something that many around the table agreed wasn’t necessarily happening in the present.

Employee Experience Driving Customer Experience in Insurance

And on the subject of People, (deliberately capitalised as this is widely used as a title for the function formerly considered ‘HR’) how some organisations are driving improvements in CX is actually through EX (Employee Experience). QBE for one are placing a major onus on improving the journey and engagement of their employees with the sentiment that a happy and invested cohort of staff will expel outward to their customer base. After all, if someone doesn’t take pride in their work and enjoy where they work, how likely is it that they will demonstrate exceptional service levels? We need to be continuously improving how our internal people experience their own organisation for us to be enhancing the external experience of consumers.

Changes to our Operating Models and Ways of Working

Not only do we need to be driving improvements in how our employees are feeling, but we need to be constantly evolving our operating models, how we are building our teams of people, and pivoting in line with this age of Digital Transformation. There was a clear acknowledgement that from a recruitment perspective we are experiencing an incredibly competitive market, short of talent supply compared to the demand required, with the candidate base heavily skewed towards contracting, and at higher rates than we have ever seen before. This is making it increasingly challenging for leaders to build out long-term, robust teams. We discussed how companies are making a conscious push towards hiring more permanent members of staff in line with this, but inevitably many teams are still heavily reliant on contractors, which often brings about a challenge in nurturing a sustainable team built on a clearly defined culture.

It was also abundantly clear from the conversation that more of an onus needs to be put on Workforce Planning than ever before, and instead of organisations being heavily reactive in their hiring, there needs to be more of a focus on utilising and mobilising internal talent rather than constantly bringing people in externally, as this isn’t necessarily sustainable in this ‘hamster wheel’ employment market. Also, if we are constantly lifting and shifting talent from like for like competitors, at premium daily rates and salaries, without cultivating our own talent, how are we moving our creativity towards Customer Experience forward?

InsureTechs – how much disruption will they cause?

A side conversation we had towards the end of the discussion was around InsureTechs and how much they will ultimately disrupt the industry, with the underlying sentiment being that what will happen will be much the same as what has happened within the Banking industry; many of the larger Insurers will inevitably incorporate some of the ideas adopted by startups and even consume these businesses in terms of acquisition.

It was an interesting, free-flowing discussion, which touched on some really key themes that we are all seeing within the Digital Transformation space. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all, intertwined with a fantastic meal and a great opportunity for like-minded individuals to network with one another, with the backdrop of the harbour bridge to be admired over the balcony.

Check out what Gary Barnett had to say about the event below:

Many thanks go to everyone involved in the discussion and we look forward to welcoming you to our next event in due course!

- Adam Higgins