Sponsored by: ?

This article was paid for by a contributing third party.

Spotlight: Personalisation - Exemplary experience, the route to differentiation

customer engagement

If you get your customer experience right, there is the potential to create real differentiation. Tim Hood, vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific for Hyland, highlights why insurance companies need to personalise, personalise, then personalise some more

Tim Hood Vice President - EMEA and APAC Hyland
Tim Hood, vice president - EMEA and APAC, Hyland

Retail giants have raised the bar. Their success at delivering fast, seamless and frictionless online service with every purchase means consumers now assume that every supplier can do the same — more than two-thirds of buyers expect to enjoy a personalised Amazon-like interaction with every supplier, according to Salesforce.

Consequently, customer experience has become a defining element of successful business because it’s what keeps people coming back for more or turns them away, never to return. Research by PWC shows that 65% of UK consumers make purchasing decisions based in part on customer experience.

For the insurance sector, this means customers are now looking for faster, better underwriting decisions and claims processing. Not being able to deliver this will not only have an impact on a brand but will market share lost to those who can.

So, putting power into the hands of policyholders is the only viable route forward.

According to John Berry, CEO of the European Financial Management Association, “the global impact of all-at-once digital adoption has changed the way insurers need to operate to satisfy their customers,” which means that “digital investment in connected channels is a critical ingredient”. In other words, insurers need to emulate retailers’ use of technology to increase the speed and improve the accuracy of every transaction, while minimising inconvenience to consumers and widening choice.

Where are the weak links?

This requires root and branch reinvention of every process and aspect of the business. Don’t imagine that customers are going to thank insurers for ‘technologising’ 90% of their journey and then slowing them down for the rest — during the pandemic, for instance, some banks were asking customers to go in-branch as part of their ‘online’ procedures.

There seems to be a general acceptance among insurers that some degree of change is required. The latest World Insurance Report reveals that 87% of insurers are looking to invest in digital solutions. However, because digital channels lack the ability to offer personalised advice, only 32% believe they are effective in securing sales. So, while ‘digital’ is great for 24/7 availability, ease of updating and information search, it may present challenges when more tailored advice is required.

Nevertheless, insurers still need to address such issues, as every manual process that remains in business is a weak link, an obstacle, a potential point of dissatisfaction. Robotic process automation is already playing an increasingly important role in eliminating tedious manual data entry, previously necessitated by a lack of connectivity between systems, both internal and external.

No more silos 

Priority should also be given to putting in place a fully integrated content services platform that would enable the sharing of critical documents, while still providing the prerequisite security and compliance. This will help break down the information silos that are one of the main obstacles to the creation of a seamless customer experience.

Clearly, whatever your technology strategy, everything must start with a detailed analysis of every aspect of the customer journey, so know what customers are looking for and what they want (and don’t want) at every point. If insurers don’t understand why people interact with them in the first place and what they are looking for, its impossible to give them the best possible CX.

Here, one of the best possible tests is to think about the customer experiences you enjoy and why. Is your team delivering to a similar level? If not, then why and how things change for the better?

Personalise, personalise, then personalise some more

The only way to create the perception of care about  customers is to actually care. And to show that, personalise every contact, connection and communication as much as possible. Then personalise some more, as this is the only way to cut through in a noisy digital world.

Creating a tailor-made experience is fundamental to ensuring that a customer feels their needs are met and they haven’t just had their money sent — 80% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand that provides a personalised experience — which is why nearly 90% of businesses see ‘personalisation investment’ as a critical component of their strategy.

Given the plethora of personalisation software tools, there’s no excuse for not offering personalised experiences that leverage knowledge of customers and in real-time.

Of course, to effectively personalise the right information is essential, which means giving data collection and analysis high priority. Rules-based personalisation based on ‘if this/then that’ is one approach, but the aim should be to achieve smarter ‘predictive’ personalisation based on explicit data, intentionally provided by customers, or implicitly gathered from multiple data streams using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Differentiation is key

CX is nothing new — in 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of the eponymous London store, said that the “customer is always right”. Back then, making sure that happened was down to an avuncular salesperson — keen to do the firm’s bidding, resolving mistakes if they arose, and suggesting products and services that might suit.

Today, brokers and intermediaries as the most prominent distribution channels, fulfil the same role, though, doing so in a fast-moving, permanently switched-on world is a more complex proposition. As it is, a large proportion of customers find it difficult to contact brokers and intermediaries outside of normal office hours, a disconnection that has been made worse by lockdowns.

This requires a new modus operandi, one that combines physical presence with digital availability. Such‘ digi-intermediation’ entails the ‘humanisation’ of online interactions by employing a variety of tools that contribute to a much deeper level of collaboration and digital engagement with customers. Screen-sharing platforms, digital document signing, augmented and virtual reality, for example, as well as on-demand features, should now be very much part of the playbook for any insurer looking to create the frictionless transaction environment their customers increasingly demand.

For those who get this right and use CX to advantage, there is the potential to create real differentiation and even to disrupt the marketplace entirely, if they have a unique value proposition to offer and know how to deliver it seamlessly. To them, ‘putting the customer first’ isn’t just some glib mantra, but a clear vision.

  • LinkedIn  
  • Save this article
  • Print this page  

You need to sign in to use this feature. If you don’t have an Insurance Post account, please register for a trial.

Sign in
You are currently on corporate access.

To use this feature you will need an individual account. If you have one already please sign in.

Sign in.

Alternatively you can request an individual account here: