Customer Experience – It’s the full journey that matters most

We all know that individual touchpoints with customers matter, but ultimately it’s the complete experience that companies fail to focus on – and what really makes the difference. The Harvard Business Review covers this in their white paper, “The Truth About Customer Experience” by Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones.

The benefits of improving customer journeys include enhanced customer and employee satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenues, lowered costs, and improved collaboration across the company.

We have found this to be true in working with our insurance clients – an effective omni-channel customer engagement solution streamlines interaction over time and across touchpoints because each customer scripts their own journey.

Read the full white paper

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The Customer-Centric Insurance Company: Who is the Customer?

When we talk about Insurance companies moving to a “Customer-Centric” model, we often initiate a dialog around the topic: “Who is the Customer?”.

The point was driven home for me a few years ago in a conversation with my friend and industry veteran Bill Jenkins, co-founder of Agile Insurance Analytics and a former CIO of several insurance companies. Bill mentioned that for many insurance carriers who write business through Independent Agents, they are the Customer versus the Policyholder and the entire business revolves around making it easy for Independent Agents to do business with the carrier. In these insurance carriers, if you talk to any executive in the C-Suite and ask “Who is the Customer”, you’ll get a unanimous answer, “the Independent Agent.”

When we talk about Customer-Centric, however, we encourage a definition of “Customer” that is not absolutely literal. In fact, we recommend looking at any person who “touches” your business, internal or external, and to view them as if they were a Customer. That means expanding the definition of Customer to include, for instance: Independent Agents, Brokers, Producers, Claims Adjustors, Third-party Administrators, Appraisers, Customer Service Representatives, Underwriters, etc. At Return on Intelligence we use the term, Actors, for this expanded list of Customers. Actors is not a perfect term, but it helps to broaden the thinking beyond the traditional notion of Customer.

When businesses expand their definition of Customer, creating this broad list of Actors for their business, the discussion starts to move towards a) what is their expectation and experience of your business, b) how do you measure this, and c) how do you improve their experience over time. Leading edge technologies facilitate the interactions with these multiple Actors, and the result is that everyone who interacts with your business feels a level of personalization and operational efficiency, and over time their perception of your business as Customer-focused, increases. This leads to increased business, longer retention and lower acquisition costs. And that is why “the Customer-Centric Insurance Company” is just “good business”.

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The Customer-Centric Insurance Company: Rip & Replace?

Every insurance company has existing technologies that support the business functions of today, such as distribution, customer acquisition and servicing. These technologies may include websites, portals, mobile applications and web-based business applications. When moving towards a Customer-centric model, is it necessary to “rip & replace” existing technology, or is there an alternative approach to implement a solution?

In the majority of cases that we see, we strive to leverage existing infrastructure and to “surround” the existing technology with a platform, and incrementally migrate or retire systems and technologies that don’t fit into the “go forward” technology roadmap. Why? Because our objective is to minimize the disruption to the business, leverage existing technology expenditures, provide a clear migration path to a new Customer-centric architecture while minimizing implementation risk. Platforms are more flexible than custom development or specialized portal solutions because they provide the depth and breadth of functionality to execute a migration to a new Customer-centric environment without demanding that an insurance company “rip & replace” their existing investment.

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The Customer-Centric Insurance Company: Build versus Buy

As more and more insurance companies move from a Product-centric to a Customer-centric strategic focus, we’re often asked, is it better to build, i.e. custom develop front office solutions, or should the company buy, i.e. purchase a best of breed platform.

We typically recommend buying a best of breed platform because we see the benefits first hand: solutions tend to be more robust, can be deployed faster, are easier to maintain and scale.

Conversely, we have seen many insurance companies who develop their own applications end up with IT nightmares: data is inconsistent across applications, portals and point solution proliferate and the user experience suffers, IT cannot keep up with the demands of the business users and maintenance costs explode.

In our view, the choice is simple: for leading edge Customer-centric solutions, the choice is to Buy, not Build.

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14 Insurance Industry Predictions

Insurance Networking News

Jonathan Kalman, President of Return on Intelligence’s Insurance Solutions Business Unit, offered the following predictions, takeaways and advice at the IASA 2014 Educational Conference and Business Show in Indianapolis last week.

  1. Customer centricity will be the dominant strategy among insurers, and new business processes will need to be designed, implemented and adapted.
  2. Customer expectations will grow exponentially higher, so design from the customer’s perspective and for flexibility.
  3. Risk management methods will shift from operational to financial and transactional, so you’ll need data at your fingertips.
  4. Market volatility will continue unabated, creating pressure on earnings and as well as investment opportunities, so insurers will be under a larger microscope.
  5. Fraudulent behavior will evolve and become more sophisticated, affecting all insurance products.
  6. The pace of industry consolidation and M&A will accelerate, so the ability to consolidate systems and processes quickly will need to become a core competency.
  7. Insurers will use analytics at the center of their business strategies, and those that do will outperform their competitors.
  8. Digital channels will dominate all customer acquisition and servicing.
  9. The window of enjoying enhanced margins on a given insurance product will shorten as new technology emerges.
  10. The pace of disintermediation will increase and accelerate (for example, Google is buying a consolidator) so technology and processes must improve.
  11. New entrants will be emboldened as barriers to entry drop, so watch non-traditional companies trying to come into your space.
  12. Niche markets will continue to offer specialized products – you must be able to compete with products not yet invented.
  13. The “Internet of Things” will open doors to new product offerings, so watch Silicon Valley’s investments carefully to stay ahead of risk management.
  14. Insurers will need top talent, so acquire what you can in an acquisition, and other familiar sources.

Read original article.

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