Turning Zeros and Ones into Hearts - Where Technology Meets Compassion
We have all heard the mantra by now. If your team isn't embracing technology and eating innovation for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are at risk of being left behind. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the importance of being proactive, getting ahead of the competition with your products and turning those ideas into practical, tangible solutions that customers see and touch.
What Does Innovation Mean to You?
These are all noble endeavors and undoubtedly ought to be part of your company strategy for 2021, but what does digital transformation really mean to you? When technology vendors and startups are pushing the latest and greatest stack of cloud technology with a laundry list of capabilities at your fingertips, how do you really make sense of it all? Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, RPA, Intelligent Automation, IOT, the list goes on. The integration of these technologies is complex. Aligning them to your company mission, vision and your customer needs is even more difficult.
Technology and The Why
As somebody who advises and works with a lot of startups across the insurance industry, I see a lot of incredible tech. The first thing I look for, however, is what problem are they trying to solve and how is technology being used to solve it? Some of the greatest ideas are born on the back of a napkin, with purpose and resolve. Technology isn't part of the equation at this early stage. On other occasions, there is "shiny object syndrome", where cool technology is in the driving seat and the problem being solved is not as apparent.
What Are We Missing?
Something that has become quite clear over the past few months is we are entering a period where all companies, InsurTech and incumbent alike, need to start looking at technology and innovation through a slightly different lens. Emphasis around scale has been the driving force for longer than I can remember. Doing more with less makes sense. Technology undoubtedly creates opportunities for scale that 5 or 10 years ago would have been impossible. So what are we missing? The challenge is that whilst technology and scale are two incredibly important ingredients of the overall pie, how and where they are leveraged within a product's journey and thinking about the emotional impact is equally, if not more important.
The Emotional Journey
Insurance is an industry that at times can be incredibly technical, process heavy and complex. Product, risk, distribution, regulation, acquisitions, technology debt, all factors that combine to create a landscape that is fraught with complexity and creates enormous challenges around integration. It is also an industry that is steeped in emotion. From the customer point of view, insurance is typically an afterthought until it is needed - often during a critical time of need. From the industry point of view, the mental toll can be equally severe, when dealing with customers who have fallen into the under-insurance gap: i) what the insured is covered for ii) what the insured thinks they are covered for iii) what the insured should be covered for. This results in an insurance experience that is dominated by friction and depending on where the insured is on their journey, an experience that can be incredibly damaging, both for the customer and the insurer.
Where Technology Meets Compassion
That brings us to the claims experience. Perhaps the most emotionally charged part of the entire insurance journey and typically where the under-insurance problem becomes most apparent. Both to the detriment of the carrier (who shoulders the blame for executing the policy fine print) and to the detriment of the customer (who believes they are being cheated by the carrier). It is a lose-lose situation.
Turning Zeros Into Hearts
Depending on where the customer is on the Insurance journey, how and where technology is leveraged becomes a delicate balancing act. At certain points on the journey, self-service tools that scale are a critical part of delivering an exceptional customer experience. Picking up the phone to make a policy endorsement change is not necessary when the same functionality can be delivered via a chatbot or simple customer portal.
On the other side of the spectrum, an emotionally charged experience requires a more delicate approach. Blending technology and automation with the ability to deliver a customer experience driven by compassion and empathy and typically a human touch. This is where knowing your customer is critically important.. Having a deep level of customer insight, and knowing where they are on their insurance journey creates a far deeper level of engagement. Equipping your staff and teams with a technology driven platform, that delivers a 360 degree view into who the customer is, can help drive a far deeper and more valuable relationship.