Re-Inventing Customer Onramps: Forrester Advice + Where to Start with Digital CX for Insurance

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If you’re interested in digital disruption around insurance markets, there’s no better expert than Ellen Carney, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research. Ellen joined our own Neal Keene last week to talk about how insurers are dealing with rapid industry change, particularly in the way they can improve the customer experience using digital tools, in a webinar hosted by Digital Insurance magazine.

We encourage you to watch the full replay. But if you’ve only got time for the highlights, here are some of the key points we found really compelling.

 

Delivering a great digital customer experience is mission-critical for the insurance industry

“For insurance organizations, digital is changing the rules of engagement,” Ellen said on the webinar. “Customers are calling the shots now. Digital has created an unprecedented opportunity for insurance organizations to rethink the experience that we’re delivering to our customers and our agents.”

According to Forrester, 34 million Americans applied for life insurance in 2016, and 50% of new auto insurance sales in 2017 were digitally influenced. In response, insurers need to reevaluate the role digital technology plays in maximizing opportunities, the research firm says.

Insurance consumers want to shop online for coverage just like they do for other products. “They’re using their mobile devices and they’re using online channels, their laptops as they’re sitting and watching TV in the evening after dinner,” she said. However, insurers are struggling to create the right digital sales and service experiences, and the gap is widening between leaders and those moving forward.

Attendees responded to a poll during the webinar and the responses prove this point. When asked about the top driver behind their digital initiatives for 2018, here’s what they said:

  • 29.1% – Need to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • 25.5% – Need to drive new revenue
  • 25.5% – Need to reduce costs and gain efficiency
  • 12.7% – Need to respond to competitive pressures
  • 3.6% – Need to launch new products faster

Sub-par digital customer experiences put an insurer at risk in a highly competitive environment where new disruptive players are coming on the scene. Better customer experience is pivotal to luring customers from other carriers, Ellen said. According to Forrester research, just 12% of customers say they plan to stay with a brand that frustrates their experience, while fewer than 1 in 5 will ever advocate for such an insurer.

 

Why insurers struggle: Barriers to digital transformation

Ellen said she can see insurers are making small changes in managing customer interactions. Yet she sees that insurers are not as committed to the digital experience as some start-up competitors and customers. She urged insurers to take advantage of the core systems they have in place and connect them with digital front ends to enable those great digital experiences. This will help insurers reduce costs and grow revenue, while fending off upstarts that lack similar core system depth.

It is clear insurers want to provide a great experience throughout the insurance customer lifecycle. What is also clear is that their legacy technology holds them back.

In fact, the second poll on the webinar proves this point. When asked what their No. 1 roadblock is to modernizing digital customer acquisition and onboarding processes, 44% cited “outdated legacy technology.” That response was more than three times higher than the next closest one.

 

Five steps to reimagine the insurance customer experience

That’s when Neal came in to explain how insurers need to reimagine and bring digital transformation to the insurance customer experience, starting with five basic steps that are easy to achieve:

  1. Initiate. Ask yourself two basic questions: What does the customer want to do? How do we want the experience to look on the front end?
  2. Connect. Add intelligence to the front end by connecting to systems behind the scenes, such as your back office system, like Guidewire or Duck Creek, and CRM system like Salesforce.
  3. Collaborate. Based on customer inputs on the front end, you may need to set up digital processes or adaptive forms that invite other people into the interaction, such as a beneficiary.
  4. Assemble/Generate. At the end of the collaborative process, the system should determine the customer’s document needs. This capability helps you avoid forms nightmares and forcing customers to figure it out for themselves.
  5. Update. Ultimately, once you have collected data, your connections should enable you to write data updates into backend core systems, eliminating manual processes and minimizing data accuracy issues. This also yields better insights for your next experience with the customer.

Neal then ran through common scenarios that would benefit greatly from digital experiences. These included enabling a customer to file a claim from a mobile device and showing how a business could shop and sign up for rental property insurance without the need for any standard forms, with callouts to both internal and third-party data sources like maps. (Note: check out our demonstrations online to see for yourself.)

Neal noted the strong value proposition for automating and digitally transforming acquisition, servicing, and onboarding. “Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask what you would want from your customer experience?”

 

Where to get started and ROI of going digital

Getting started with better digital customer experiences can be faster than you think. Depending on the complexity, you can be up and running with a project in just 4-6 weeks. Neal provided webinar visitors with a walkthrough of the chart that appears below which shows how to think about the startup phase.

The presentation ended with an interesting Q&A session, particularly talking about how to identify ROI. “The wild west of digital and mobile is definitely gone,” Neal said. “The key is going to be defining those metrics and KPIs.” If you’d like more information on how to build your business case, contact us to talk with our team about your unique environment.

Hear all of this for yourself: watch the complete webinar recording here.