The lasting impact of COVID19 – Customer-First, not Policy-First Brokers

During the COVID19 lockdown the insurance industry came under significant scrutiny, with its products, services and value delivery called into question by the very people it strives to serve.  Perhaps the most pervasive change as a result of lockdown, and the ensuing long-term economic and societal uncertainty, has been the fundamental shift in customer behaviours. The Coronavirus pandemic has without doubt redefined what customers expect from insurance providers.

An experience-based approach

Insurance customer expectations were already evolving at speed before the coronavirus pandemic hit but now that process has accelerated.  The service expectations that customers have from their insurance brokers have been changed forever, forcing them to reflect on how to do things better.  This has been a long time coming.

As the lockdown is eased and society settles into the new normal, brokers must ask themselves:

  • How can they make the buying experience better for their customers?
  • How can they reimagine their service offers to align with what their customers now expect?
  • How can they consistently provide customer-centric moments at every stage of the customer journey, in order to retain them for longer?

Customers expect the same service, buying experience and customer journey that they have come to expect from other sectors, like retail.  They expect brokers to deliver personalised experiences based on an intuitive understanding of current and future needs.  They expect seamless purchasing and delivery journeys, new offerings that add value to core insurance products, and far more flexibility.  They demand consistently high quality digital touchpoints and communications.  Brokers must evolve just as quickly as their customers, or risk falling further out of step with expectations and the changing competitive landscape.

There is an opportunity here.  The COVID19 pandemic has kicked brokers into the future.   Traditionally competing on their ability to develop and sell new products, brokers must reimagine their business for the new normal and navigate their way forward with a focus on customer-centricity, rather than policy-centricity, will be the ones that will be fit for the post-coronavirus world.

As my friend Sam White, CEO at the Freedom Group, so eloquently puts it – “Customer-centric flexibility are the watchwords for the new normal.  We must recognise that customers’ lives have been changed forever.  They want flexibility and they want to be in the control.  A cyclical policy-driven approach simply won’t work, neither will analogue purchasing processes.  To come back stronger we must provide self-service digital customer journeys and constantly-responsive and personalised products.”

Realising the customer-centric advantage

It may sound obvious, but the route to moving from policy-centricity to customer-centricity lies in adopting new ideas and doing things differently.  Brokers must reframe their view about what’s important, reimagine service through the customer lens, and work to ensure every touchpoint makes the customer journey as effortless as possible.

Critically, internal systems and processes cannot be constraining factors. Brokers need to invest in phasing out legacy, replacing it with innovative data solutions that drive a single customer view with actionable insight, APIs for superior digital experiences, and tools which enable agile product development and distribution.  Just imagine the possibilities:

  1. Quicker quotations with fewer questions, thanks to the seamless integration of existing customer and third-party data
  2. Real-time price adjustments, thanks to APIs enabling the ultimate in transparency and control
  3. Simple data entry and validation, thanks to responsive forms, contextual data entry and in-line validation
  4. A slicker customer experience, thanks to responsive documents on any device with dynamic content retrievable via APIs
  5. Painless payments, thanks to more flexible processes
  6. Simple self-service updates to policy cover as customer circumstances change, with reduced call centre burden, thanks to mindful Mid-Term Adjustments being completed online
  7. Self-service renewals, thanks to a digital front-end making proactive personalised suggestions and recommendations based on a deeper understanding of needs and risks.

Brokers that invest in reinventing their business model through customer-centric digital enablement – working through the customer journey and augmenting it with innovative features like those mentioned above – will put themselves well ahead of the competition as we move into the new normal.

When I say customer-centric rather than policy-centric, I don’t of course suggest that policy innovation isn’t important.  Just like any other part of the broker business, policies will need to adapt to respond to the customer’s evolving needs.  From product definition, rates, documents, cover levels and underwriting guidelines, brokers with collaborative digital ecosystems will be better placed to respond quickly to emerging needs.  Those implementing APIs will be able to configure new products faster, keeping themselves one step ahead of competitors and enhancing their ability to evolve their offering in response to market trends, customer feedback, and business priorities.

The time is now – don’t let this moment be lost

This massive moment in history must not be lost. Brokers that step up their game, rethink their business model, reimagine their organisation for customer-centricity, and accelerate the adoption of digital solutions will be better off and far more ready to confront the challenges, and opportunities, of serving insurance customers in the new normal than those who do not.

We built Aventus to make insurance better for the customer – democratising digital to help brokerss affordably invest in the comprehensive digital and data capabilities they need to deliver modern customer experiences.  Find out how the Aventus Insurance Operating System can power your customer-centric future.

Or why not download our new whitepaper, Recovery and Reinvention: How brokers and MGAs must adapt to survive in the post-COVID19 ‘new normal’ to find out more about the lessons to be learned and how you can not only survive and recover, but reinvent your business model to ensure you come back stronger than ever.

Download: Recovery and Reinvention Whitepaper