As technology has moved on, the insurance industry has failed to keep up and now customers are responding by moving to more innovative firms that put customer experience first. There’s no doubt that customer experience (CX) gives insurers a competitive edge; it drives agility and loyalty as firms can respond to customer needs more quickly and efficiently. But becoming a ‘customer first’ organisation is not as easy as it sounds.

Customer Portals Are Key

Many insurance companies wrote their IT systems 10 to 15 years ago and although they certainly include customer portals, responsiveness (the concept by which applications respond to a user’s environment based on screen size, platform and orientation) was not a concern.

The result? Frustrated customers trying to use outdated technology on smartphones and tablets. Customer portals that don’t adapt to the screens upon which people view them makes it cumbersome to perform tasks quickly and efficiently. And when you’re in the B2B market, as many of our insurance clients are, the customer portal is often the deal breaker for winning and retaining business.

In almost every aspect of daily life, we are used to, and in fact expect to, interact easily with brands across our devices. Admittedly, the consumer facing side of the insurance industry has made great strides forward in the CX space; making websites, apps and customer portals easy to use.

However, those in the B2B end of the market, now have to play catch up.

Real-Time Data Is the Norm

Data has always been plentiful in the insurance sector. But over the past five years or so technology has not only increased the volume and types of data available, what you can do with it is far more sophisticated than ever before.

Customers, particularly business customers, expect to have their data available on the move. For example, technology is enabling Risk Managers to provide real-time insights at customer locations, anywhere in the world.

Customers can clearly visualise how by implementing risk improvements, their risk ratings can improve allowing them to make better commercial decisions quickly.

The data here often performs complex calculations and needs to securely, ‘talk’, to other systems. Despite this complexity, insurers clearly cannot ignore having the ability to present and visualise data any longer, their existing systems are simply not fit for purpose. Customers are looking for the latest tools that allow them to create bespoke visualisations and dashboards, to interact and drill down into their data easily.

Bypass IT

 Dealing with legacy systems and older programming languages has long since been the insurance industry’s barrier (or excuse perhaps), for not keeping up to date with the latest technology. However, in my experience, the line of business teams drive customer experience and in particular analytics and data visualisation.

Not to disparage anyone, IT do a great job up and down the country, but implementing tech for customer experience can get lost in admin and red tape by which time, the initiative you wanted to implement has been replaced by newer technology.

We’ve certainly discovered that it’s the line of business leaders who contact us for help getting their customer experience projects off the ground. From developing and enhancing customer portals to self-service or bespoke dashboard tools, the drivers are from within the business.

Integration Rules

The fear of ‘rip and replace’ goes hand in hand with the IT challenge. The risk of losing data and being unable to replicate existing systems and processes could result in a poor customer experience rather than an enhanced one.

The good news is that with today’s technology, software developers can successfully integrate innovative mobile and data visualisation solutions with existing legacy insurance systems.

Integration also provides a far richer data set with which to enhance the customer experience. Insurers can connect external data sources such as geographic mapping, to give a view of flood or earthquake risks at precise locations.

However, how does integration drive competitive advantage? Aren’t those external sources and tools available to all? In theory, yes. But it’s what you do with them that counts. Connecting flood risk data with your proprietary data and then modelling it to forecast future risk; all whilst enabling customers to see updates in real-time through a mobile customer portal, is what leaps one insurance company ahead of the rest.

Anthony Peake, Managing Director, Software Solved

Anthony Peake is Managing Director at Software Solved. He has 30 years of experience in IT industry at a number of companies from blue-chip corporations to start-ups. In his spare time Anthony is a keen dragon boat racer and has qualified for the Team GB squad.

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