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Digitalisation in the insurance sector – consumer expectations and reality

Where the insurance sector is concerned, it is safe to assume that, for consumers looking for a new insurance policy, websites are the first port of call, whether on a pc, laptop or smartphone, regardless of the device they eventually purchase from.
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This channel-hopping behaviour has become typical in today’s purchasing journeys, yet within the insurance sector, user experience has not yet caught up to meet consumers’ ever more sophisticated expectations.

 In fact, in a recent survey 69 per cent of professionals in the insurance sector declared their industry is moderately to severely behind in adopting digital technologies.

As such, I’m going to talk about how insurance sector businesses can provide brokers and intermediaries with the right tools to stay ahead of the game.

As an insurance broker or financial adviser, you cannot have failed to notice the widening gap between customer expectation of digital experience and what is actually delivered by UK insurers.

The insurance sector is highly competitive and customers are far more likely to stick with brokers and advisors that work with an insurer that can offer them a more simple and intuitive user experience.

So where should brokers and financial advisors set their expectations?

Mobile-friendly vs mobile-illiterate

Smartphone users in the UK are predicted to reach 43.6m in 2017. Smartphones enable consumers to carry out most browsing, research and purchasing activities while on the go, so sites that are not optimised for mobile-use can put off prospects, diverting them to a more digitally-aware competitor.

The availability of apps is also important, especially as they can integrate tailored add-on services such as ‘Find my nearest’ tools for car glass repairs, renewal reminders and claims support. 

Channel choice vs limited communication 

Consumers have their own communication preferences for different situations; some continue to prefer traditional means while many expect a range of options, both automated and human.

For instance, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of chatbots can be used to interrogate a company about cover, providing a speedy and intuitive service.

In the future, AI may soon be able to provide predictive analysis to insurers and intermediaries, with systems becoming able to identify cross-selling or up-selling opportunities, segments of clients to target for a more profitable and lower risk investment, and specific trigger-behaviour by consumers.

Social media-savvy vs social media dinosaur

Social media still has great untapped potential for businesses. A truly digital insurer should be able to start conversations with consumers via Twitter or even Facebook Messenger, providing swift query resolution and cover information. 

Single customer view vs siloed customer view

Can the insurers you work with draw up a single view with a complete history of the customer’s previous interactions and purchases when you are preparing a quote? If not, you may be missing out on opportunities to offer timely and relevant offers, and offer tailored advice.

Unfortunately, customer information in back-end systems, which are usually legacy systems, tends to be “siloed” in different formats for the use of single departments. However, experienced system integrators can collect data from different systems and form a single repository for a complete and organic single customer view.

One of the main reasons insurers are reluctant to invest in integrating older back-end systems into one single repository is cost, however savvy insurers are already addressing the problem and providing their partners and advisors with superior service.

Creating new modern front-ends and integrating them with the different back-ends allows you to collect and pool all types of structured and unstructured data from various systems with greater ease. If Artificial Intelligence is added to the mix, it is even possible to build tailored products and “packages” of products that respond to customers’ real needs.

Conclusions: Where to begin 

It is high time that insurers started to provide their partners and customers a more modern and digital user experience. As some wise insurers make the leap to digital transformation, those left behind will lose partners and customers.

Given there are experienced third-party consultants who are able to manage the end-to-end digital transformation journey, there really is no excuse for not keeping up with consumer demand and enabling intermediaries to sell more and sell better, more tailored policies.

Giuliano Altamura is financial services business unit manager at Fincons Group

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