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Being future fit can lead to customer satisfaction

18 July 2016 Jonathan Faurie

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says that something cannot be done is often overtaken by somebody that is already doing it. This epitomises the challenge that the digital revolution poses. Many companies who are apprehensive about the adoption of technology are allowing it to become an industry disruptor, which threatens to have a major impact on bottom line profits.

The extent of the challenge

At a recently held Insurance Institute of Gauteng (IIG) forum, Colin Molepe – COO of Zurich Insurance Company South Africa – highlighted the true extent of the challenge and the measures that need to be taken by companies if they want to overcome this disruption.

Molepe pointed out that while companies are acknowledging that this is a challenge, many companies are not facing up to it.

“An Ernst & Young study of the top 100 companies in the country shows that many of these companies are not ready to overcome the technology disruption challenge,” said Molepe.

This may be because when we talk about disruptors, we imagine them to be major events. However, Molepe pointed out that it can often be a small event that can have a major impact.

“Additionally, there are industry challenges which throw a spanner into the works. The short-term insurance industry is not growing and there are very few people who are insured. We face the global challenge of dealing with variable assets as well as dealing with a population base that simply cannot afford insurance in an economic climate where every cent needs to be accounted for,” said Molepe.

Duel at high noon

Molepe painted the picture that overcoming these challenges can at times be difficult and often overbearing.

The challenge that companies face is often not singular in nature; they have to manage the cost of their business while servicing customer needs in order to grow profit margins. How do companies decrease costs while still living up to the commitment of offering world class products?

 “We have always been focused on increasing top line profits by pushing products to customers. But we have never educated them on why they are purchasing the products that we are trying to sell them. At the end of the day, we need to work towards this. We promise to be there for our customers when a loss occurs, we need to live up to this promise,” said Molepe.

From static to dynamic

There are a number of ways in which companies can overcome this challenge while living up to the commitment that they give clients.

Top of the list is reassessing the way that companies can improve their customer experience. It comes down to moving forward from being a static company to a dynamic company. The ability of companies to serve clients speedily is there, companies are just not using it in an effective manner. Smart mobility is the answer to this; take advantage of the adoption of smartphones and tablets as mediums of communication.

“After companies have addressed this, they need to reduce costs. Robotics is a perfect way to achieve this. Digital coding has advanced to such a level that we are able to teach robots how to handle simple aspects of the claim cheaply and easily. In this way, we achieve uniformity and eliminate human error,” said Molepe.

This however does come with a warning. “Companies need to be very sure how much involvement they want robots to have. Humans are still untrusting of other humans, imagine how untrusting they will be of robots?” asked Molepe.

The internet is your friend

Once companies have improved the customer experience and they have reduced operational costs, they need to reduce claims costs.

“Companies need to use the internet as a touch point where clients can have access to the full claims process. Use technology to reach customers before they contact you. Instead of asking a call centre agent to contact a customer, send out alerts when a car has moved from the body shop to the paint shop. Customer irritation levels will decrease and companies will see the value of this,” says Molepe.

Manage risk better

Imagine if we can predict what products our customers will need in the future? Molepe pointed out that there are a number of vendors who have a wealth of information that can assist companies.

“We are starting to see this happening in the industry in the form of weather alerts during rainy season. But imagine if we can pre-empt a geyser burst and manage the risk before it occurs; that’s true customer value. All of this can be achieved through the effective use of technology,” said Molepe.

Editor’s Thoughts:
There is no doubt that technology can be a game change, but it can also disrupt business operations in other ways. How is technology benefiting or disrupting your business? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

Comments

Added by Brian Jenions, 18 Jul 2016
Mr Molepe should look at his own systems before judging others. The Zurich commercial lines is the most antiquated policy document system of all the insurers I deal with. The format has not changed in the last ten years and really needs drastic updating
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