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Personally shaping insurance

01 June 2016 Schalk Malan, BrightRock

We live in a time where consumers like to personally shape the products and services at their disposal.

If they cannot shape these products and services the way they like to, you will hear about it on social media, right before they switch to a product or service provider where they can.

Careful balancing act

This is why a recent study by Deloitte, about the rise of personalisation, is on the mark: consumers have become both critics and co-creators, demanding tailored products and personal service.

To meet these demands a careful balancing act between high-tech customisation and good, old-fashioned service – service characterised by responsiveness, transparency and above all, the human touch – is required.

A dramatic shift

No fewer than 93% of the South African respondents in analytics company Verint’s International Customer Satisfaction study indicated that good service makes them feel more positive about brands.

Personalisation is not just driven by consumer needs, but also by the levels of personalisation achieved in other industries. According to EY’s 2015 Global Insurance Outlook report, customer expectations for personalised service are influenced by experiences where they engaged with service and product providers in other industries.

Think of the way online shopping portals and view-by-demand TV services adapt according to individual tastes – a trend we are seeing throughout the consumer space. EY reports that customers seek immediate responsiveness from their insurers through a variety of digital channels like web chat, video and mobile. For the insurance industry, which has been slow to fully exploit these new channels, it requires a dramatic shift in the way we interact with clients.

Where opportunity lies

However, it is not just technology that companies layer over their products that will ensure a positive customer experience. It is the product itself and this is where the opportunity lies for our industry as a whole.

Complex products like long-term cover need to adapt by matching customers’ needs and adapting to different life stages.

The key areas of focus are:

1. Quoting, application and underwriting. The life industry is notorious for its onerous sign-up processes, which require endless paperwork. There are new market entrants who are harnessing technology to reduce the paperwork for the client and adviser – for example, through client-friendly quoting interfaces, smart forms that auto-populate client details, tele-underwriting and electronic signatures that save time. This techonology reduces the schlep factor.

2. Language and documentation. Plain language practices are becoming more established, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Instead of using standardised templates and benefit schedules, some providers now produce customised, dynamic policy documentation that reflects information that is relevant only to the specific individual and the choices made by that individual.

3. Product design. Instead of the traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to life insurance which expresses cover as aggregated lump-sums with little obvious relation to clients’ daily lives, insurers need to align their product structures more explicitly to clients’ financial needs. This way, clients can link their premium and pay-out clearly to the items that make up their household budget. Another key aspect of personalising products is to engineer their relevance to the client over time. Forward-thinking providers offer the ability for clients’ cover to adapt dynamically to their changing needs throughout their lives. As a result, they are able to meet clients’ individual needs sustainably and very precisely by delivering more value.

In conclusion, I believe, now more than ever, personalising the insurance experience is an opportunity that should be embraced as a matter of urgency.

When you personalise clients’ experience, you are attracting, engaging and holding onto customers for the long haul.

• The Deloitte Consumer Review – Made-to-order: The rise of mass personalisation
• Verint – Study of More than 18 000 Consumers Across Nine Countries Reveals Attitudes Toward Brand Loyalty, Service Personalization and Privacy
• EY – 2015 Global insurance outlook

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