It’s an open secret that the insurance industry is rife with inefficiencies. There’s a cost incurred any time a policy is touched, however lightly. From AI to automation, technology holds major promise for businesses looking to reduce the reliance on expensive manual processes and create better experiences for the consumer. But get the technology wrong, in combination with an ill-conceived digital-evolution strategy, and your end-customers are paying for your mistakes.
Tech saves the day?
Well… not quite, as it turns out, because many insurance businesses aren’t exactly digital deserts to begin with. More often than not, tech has already been introduced in various forms but because functionality and user experience have not been given enough consideration, it fails. The result is an accumulation of technical debt that negatively impacts the teams working within the organisation, the supply chain and the end-customer.
Researchers at University of the Western Cape recently affirmed that “technology on its own is not the silver bullet when it comes to digitally transforming the business”. Across the industry, we’re seeing the pervasive belief that tech is the tool that can fix anything without little regard for the wider business need, how the consumer benefits, or what this means for the organisation’s culture.
Consumers won’t pay for your bad tech forever
When the shine wears off your new tech, it’s your end-customers that pay for it – not once but twice. Initially by paying for your mistakes literally, through inflated prices and then through the second cost of a dismal customer experience.
When implemented and used well, technology drives and future-proofs the innovation that delivers fair value for end-customers while enabling market competition. But when your objective isn’t clearly defined, technology does the reverse and then some. We’ve all been on the other side of poorly implemented, user-hostile tech – so we can all appreciate that where frustration accompanies every interaction, it inevitably chips away at goodwill and trust.
For insurance providers, that consumer frustration is only the start of it. The pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis have made it plain that we’re living in incredibly unpredictable times, so it’s important that you’re flexible in your approach to keep hold of your end-customers. Especially when you consider that acquiring a new customer can cost as much as nine times more as retaining one. With one in six UK households in “serious financial difficulties” as of July 2022, more than a quarter of those have cancelled or allowed personal insurance policies to lapse. Commercial lines aren’t safe either. And this is just the UK. I think it’s fair to say that in the face of growing consumer economic hardship, insurers are bracing themselves to justify their existence, let alone their value.
Six tips for tech cut-through
So how can you stay flexible in the face of such unpredictable change? What do you need to consider if you’re about to take the plunge and start the potentially daunting task of reviewing your digital estate and clearing your technical debt?
As defined by ISO standards, innovation hinges on “realizing or redistributing value” – note the emphasis on value. Digital innovation is often conflated with technology change. They’re not mutually exclusive concepts, but they also aren’t synonymous. There is incredible technology out there, but rather than pursuing it because you think you should, the key is to interrogate and define how it can add real value. A simple lift and shift of what you had before but with a new wrapper and ribbon bow just won’t cut it.
Even more vital is that it’s adding value to the right people. Your digital evolution should be about delivering the very best experience for the end-customer while freeing your teams from the pain of legacy systems. Your tech partner should never be incentivised to set you down a path you can’t come back from, or to put all your eggs into one technological basket. Which leads me on to…
A partner that is motivated by upselling tech or consultancy for the sake of it can impede true innovation by tying you to a rigid plan. In contrast, an agile approach recognises that what the end-customer wants now might not be what they want in a year’s time and offers the flexibility to meet these evolving needs.
Whatever solutions your partner implements, they should enable you to start small, reassess after a couple of months, and pivot if the project isn’t heading in the right direction for your business – not theirs.
Values (plural) are just as important as value (singular). When your values are strongly aligned with your tech partner’s then this is when the end-customer really benefits – a strong working relationship and governance create the foundation to realise amazing outcomes. That doesn’t mean you should be seeking a yes-man or a hive mind. A good partner should challenge your thinking at every stage, pushing back if they believe aspects of the project aren’t in your best interest, or that of your end-customer.
And finally, let’s be honest, every digital project will throw up some unexpected issues even with the most robust scoping and planning. The right partner however, will have the mindset of trying to solve the problem so that it actually becomes an opportunity to discover some amazing elements or applications you weren’t expecting – cut-throughs, not cul-de-sacs.