temptation to view the inclusion of data
analytics as merely adding another link
in the sequential insurance value chain.
Instead, companies must embed data
analytics as an organization-wide competency that spans the gap between data
and insights and plays a vital role across
every stage of the insurance process.
The processing power of analytics
is increasing, and the digital landscape
has provided a platform for consumption of analytics that is greater than ever.
The confluence of these factors requires
that carriers simplify the way in which
information is processed. As more human
activity is being expressed digitally, data
forms evolve. Carriers must be able to
seamlessly integrate their structured
financial and transactional data with
unstructured data (e.g., voice, images,
social). And to do that, they must simplify
the data environments through a combination of information, application and integration efforts that facilitate extraction,
accumulation, control and reporting that
aligns with the desired analytics.
An end-to-end digital experience for
To drive customer satisfaction and
retention, carriers clearly need to develop
a post-sales and servicing digital strategy
that is differentiated and carefully thought
out. But what does this mean in practice?
Customer servicing capabilities must
be aligned with customer acquisition
capabilities. Building a world-class
digital customer acquisition capability
without rethinking and streamlining the
post-sale customer experience will result
in significant dissatisfaction. Insurers
must identify all connecting points with
customers and build consistency and
alignment with delivery across all interactions and channels.
It is important to understand customer behavior across an insurer’s service delivery channels to prevent channel
escalations and reduce costs. Online
retailing shows an example of this:
executives at a major clothing retailer
realized that many customer service calls
focused on selecting the right clothing
size, so the company added contextual
help to the product pages on its website.
Call center volume dropped by 20 per-
cent — a huge cost savings. Conversely,
data analytics that tie together the key
drivers for channel escalations to the call
center can allow targeted improvements
to key areas of the web experience that
will reduce customer confusion.
Objectives such as deflecting call
center traffic and generating more leads
require an intuitive customer experience
across digital touch points that is equal to
or better than the experiences they have
with other service delivery channels.
Multichannel digital strategies
also require a careful consideration of
potential distribution-channel conflicts.
Insurers cite intermediary and agent
channel strength or resistance as one of
the top three inhibitors in implementing
a digital strategy. Yet while tradition-
al intermediary and agent channels
have commonly viewed direct sales via
the web as a form of competition for
premium dollars, emerging strategies
reposition these distribution channels
to share the benefits of investments in
digital capabilities, providing a clear mu-
tual value proposition to deliver a better
customer experience regardless of how
the customer was acquired.
With demographic shifts moving a
higher percentage of insurance customers to the web, traditional distribution
channels increasingly must be armed
with effective digital tools to capture this
market share. Customers acquired on
the web may require servicing from sales
offices, and a compensation model that
rewards sales offices for their support of
these customers lessens the potential for
channel conflict by allowing traditional
sales channels to embrace this growing
Life insurance customers of all de-
mographics expect a high level of
engagement and a seamless experience
when interacting with carriers, and this
expectation springs largely from their
experiences with products and services
outside of the life insurance space.
Carriers must accept that customer
expectations for digital interactions are
changing and must respond by developing
strategies that keep pace. From adaptive
designs and cross-device portability to
data analytics and payment innovations,
insurance companies have a range of digi-
tal tools available to increase the quality of
client interactions, deepen customer rela-
tionships and drive operational efficiencies
across the insurance value chain.
Carriers need to develop a bold
vision for their digital strategy while
relying on quick wins and incremental
changes to drive management buy-in.
Such a transformation would consist of
an end-to-end digital view and overhaul
of the insurance process, making certain
that it is focused on keeping customers
in the fastest, most effective, lowest-cost
service delivery channels, while also
driving other strategic goals, such as
retention and cross-sell opportunities.
Transitioning to the digital world also
requires carriers to rethink their product
offerings, with an eye toward simplifica-tion, flexibility and transparency to drive
growth and enable retention.
The governance demands made of
the companies engaging in end-to-end
digital transformation will require an
unwavering commitment to customer
privacy concerns, transparency and clear
communication, and accountability
structures within the organization.
The onus is on insurance carriers to
learn from the experiences of technology
and other financial services companies
and find creative ways of disrupting and
improving upon their existing customer
experience model. ITA
(Frank Memmo, Jr., is executive
director of EY. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-
Insurers Transform Customer service
Through Digital Innovation