The global pandemic of 2020 accentuated the need for quick digital adoption across business landscapes. It resulted in a huge transformation in the functioning of banking, financial system, and insurance, where companies started investing in technology and using data to develop tools that would help customers avail various services in real-time besides getting the help they require from customer service executives.
The insurance industry, which has primarily been a traditional business, was at crossroads. It was looking for the right time and opportunity to ride the digital wave. With the pandemic acting as a potent catalyst to trigger this digital move, the industry is now looking at exploring all ways to stay relevant in the new-normal world.
There are four primary areas where the insurance industry can flourish in the digital journey.
- Product Innovation And Customer Engagement
The digital platforms enable businesses to develop and enhance experiential customer engagement, because of which the new-age customers expect a comfortable, differential and extremely personalised treatment in all digital consumption. This has led insurers to bring out innovations across tangible and intangible product lines that are relevant across channels, pre-filled sale journeys, pre-approved policies, mapping customer profiles with servicing agents, intelligent bots approaching a near-human experience, face recognition algorithms to accelerate claim settlements and fraud avoidance.
- Sales Force Engagement
Proprietary channels, partners and brokers have a different working style and operate at different business paces. Hence, it is important to provide services curated specially for them such as desktop, kiosk, POS etc. Insurers should also integrate with partner systems intelligently such that the duration of launching of new products and campaigns can be reduced, and there is a seamless on-boarding of advisors, effective lead management and so on. Virtual assistants, online support, back-office hotline – in a nutshell, the entire ecosystem should be kept ready to address the sales support calls to enable the agent meet the ‘phygital’ engagement challenges.
- Predictive, Analytics-Driven Decision-Making
Most insurers run into severe risks of leakage because customers sitting across different product lines are not uniquely identified. Customers, however, expect the service providers to know their preference on the basis of past experiences with other products and services and have the intelligence of offering the perfect pre-approved product on the basis of the customers’ demographic and psychographic details. Thereon, the insurers are expected to provide a priority channel for the customers’ premium ticket size and ensure a consistency in paying all previous premiums, continuation of all existing policies and so on.
Legacy Systems Upgrade
Upgrading the legacy systems is perhaps the most difficult yet integral part of the transformation. Legacy systems have been around for the last two decades in the insurance industry. With new product lines emerging with an integrated worldview, it often becomes a challenge to keep changing the old systems to get the desired results in a timely manner. In addition, many of these systems run on proprietary hardware costing millions of dollars in maintenance and upgrade. Thus, it is crucial that such legacy software is ported to future-ready modern technologies using containerised micro services and API platforms for insurers to insulate themselves from severe technology implosions that we envisage in the future.
Adoption of technology in insurance has not only changed the way companies are taking a relook at their business but also transforming the entire infrastructure to stay relevant in the game. Implementing in these four prominent areas will create massive opportunities for the companies to constantly upgrade themselves, strengthen their vision, and bring a significant disruption in their current products and services.
The author is chief technology officer, Exide Life Insurance