Insurers have embarked on an aggressive digital transformation journey to leverage the emerging digital technologies in order to deliver superior omni-channel experience. We believe that omni-channel experience is only the tip of this iceberg of a next generation (NextGen) customer experience. The question is – what role will insurers play in this new ecosystem and how will they deliver improved customer experience in the new digital era?
Who is your customer?
Almost every insurer today has either redefined or is in the process of redefining their definition of a 'Customer'. Depending on the primary distribution channel, this could be either the end customer or the agent through whom the insurer actually sells. This is where our first question comes in — does it have to be one over the other?
Our engagements with several insurers along with emerging consumer expectations has convinced us that the focus for delivering a digital experience has to expand from just the 'Customer' to the 'Digital Consumer'. The Digital Consumer could be just about anybody in the ecosystem who consumes the digital experience enabled and provided by the insurance company to achieve a given goal and/or complete a certain activity.
The Table Stakes of NextGen Experience – The 3 Cs
Innovation today is driven by the consumer, a reversal of the decades old, top down direction of change, driven by business and government. We now expect our experience, whether as an employee or as customer, to be much like the personalized experience we enjoy in our personal lives, thanks to Amazon, Google and Facebook. How can insurers provide the same kind of customer delight?
Based on our experience, we have defined the 3 Cs that form the foundation for insurers to deliver a superior consumer experience in the digital era – Consistent, Contextualized and Collaborative experience. We expect the transformation of the role of Insurance agents from mere facilitators to advisors and participant experts. This can also transform the physical brick-and-mortar agent offices into virtual communities that drive collaboration in the digital era and engage with their customer through different mediums.
The Impact of Combinatorial Innovation
Putting tried and tested components together in a new combination is known as 'combinatorial innovation.' The digital era has seen the evolution of four innovative technologies almost in parallel — mobile and pervasive computing, social media, cloud, Big Data and analytics. In more recent times, we have witnessed the emergence of three additional innovations — the Internet of Things (or network connectivity for everyday objects), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, and 3D printing . Each of these innovations by themselves is huge and can help insurers drive significant impact on delivering a NextGen consumer experience.
It is our strong belief that the true power of these innovations will be realized by insurers when they combine two or more of these forces to create a disruptive effect. It will be disruptive because these combinatorial innovations are fundamentally changing insurers' business models, forcing them to break down silos not just within the organization, but also blurring the organizational boundaries itself. These forces are driving a whole new phenomenon — the creation of digital ecosystems.
Customer intimacy and an interface that is both user friendly and aligned with current innovation and consumer demands, is one way for insurers to ensure they deliver relevant customer experiences in the digital era of today. Traditional views on customer experience are outdated and increasingly irrelevant. The emerging NextGen experience moves us from a marketing and channel centric view to a broader journey oriented view that expands into the home, the car and many other aspects of customers’ personal lives.
Satisfying these needs will increasingly involve a new ecosystem and those companies that embrace ecosystem thinking will grab a larger share of revenue from non-traditional sources, than those who refuse to cater to diverse needs.