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Consumer-Centric Design in Insurance

Insurance instinctively feels old. It’s as though, the fast-moving parts of the digital age can’t seem to permeate its an archaic blueprint. Sure enough, it looks and feels that way too. One look at the spasm of choices to avail insurance online will leave you feeling dull and permanently bored. Consumers often don’t buy insurance, (even when they need it) because they are turned off by the complexity involved in understanding the product itself, and in the way, it is typically packaged & sold. 

In the Internet 2.0 era, users switch lightning quick between a dozen websites in tandem. The insurance industry, like most, is largely affected by the seeming lack of leverage they have in understanding what appeals to the consumer’s buying nature, instincts and experience.

The power of ‘choice’ lies in the hands of the insured, while the ability to ‘influence’ choice is a matter of design thinking. So if a user doesn’t get the price, product, service, communication and/or experience — they quickly move on

Insurers need next-gen customer engagement solutions that enable them to deliver the right interaction or experience at every customer touchpoint across the lifecycle, in order to maximize real customer lifetime value.

A detailed UX audit reveals many lacklustre areas in traditional insurance websites. In my experience (from having performed countless such audits) — insurance pages create limited awareness of the product, incomplete product understanding, confusion about features, low trust in delivery, frustration about lack of transparency, limited access to easy self-service tools and often a feeling of being overwhelmed leading to a tendency to put-off the purchase.

The inability to correct low engagement among Gen Y and Z users will hurt the long term stability for product innovation. According to a recent McKinsey analysis, the average number of interactions among banks and big tech cos with their customers (above the age of 20) is between 2100 to 2500 interactions per year. The same for health insurers average only around 270 to 300 interactions each year, perhaps indicating a strong disconnect between the need for insurance as a product/ service and its perception otherwise.

The transition from a ‘policy-centric’ to a ‘customer-first’ approach for up-selling, cross-selling and retention requires designing for three needs — ease of use, choice and (access to) support.

As customer expectations continue to evolve and lower tolerances are built for needlessly long and drawn-out customer journeys, the need for consistently delivering a superior experience stands out.

Let’s take a look at how insurers can improve some key areas of engagement:

  1. Omnichannel

    Nearly half
    of all life insurance customers prefer an omnichannel journey. This means that they expect the same superior experience today through search, social, website, app and in-person interactions with the company, and tomorrow. For creating the ideal ‘target customer journey’, basic pain-points are critical to addressing. For instance, a simple call before a routine health check-up to reassure the customer for any assistance post-appointment can go a long way in reassuring the brand’s commitment to even the finer details. These out-of-the-box experiences facilitate the creation of ‘Signature moments’ for the customer, driving loyalty.

    Today, most buying journeys begin with mobile — as people explore their insurance options in their free time, and on the move. Insurers will have to reinvent multichannel experiences like any other consumer product, say designer clothing or high-end electronics. While basic hygiene factors such as a mobile-responsive website equipped with a home-page wizard that seamlessly engages and assists the user are mandatory for companies who wish to increase their conversions, especially among younger demographics.

  2. Straight-to-Quote

    Getting to a product quote is one of the first interactions a user engages in. A potential customer checks on average, 4-5 websites before coming to any serious buying decision.

    The majority of insurers still use a plain design approach to displaying products — the method of asking the same bundle of questions in a ‘tick-box’ format. Asking less but relevant questions to offer quotes should be seen as a prerequisite in order to let go of outdated buying flows.

    A redesigned process can manufacture simple operational improvements. A prospective buyer who is looking for a quote on an insurer’s website is already spending time researching a multitude of different products with varying features. Insurers can save these users time spent on extensive research, through quick outreach that delivers a sensible buying rationale that feels personal to the user (using data & analytics).

    From here, a human agent (who is monitoring the journey thus far) can quickly take over and interactions can move beyond the jargon to address real needs. The user can be led to a more personalized interaction site (instead of being forced to download an app) and can get all account information, policy summaries and main headlines straight to phone or email — without having to re-enter any data.

    An overhaul of the journey (such as the one above) can unlock 50% or more increase in new premiums, simply because the customer and the insurer got off on the right page together.
  3. Policy Details

    Even in the age of digitalization, prospective customers still prefer to talk to people when it comes to getting information about the cost and quality of insurance products. Hardly anyone reads the 200-page brochure explaining every minute detail of an insurance policy. Users expect a simple, easy-to-understand summary of the policy, it’s pricing, its beneficial features and how it fares better than other policies in the market offered by other insurers.

Aggregators typically overcome this well, because they have to pit multiple policies against each other. In order to achieve this, a streamlined UI needs to be placed at the forefront of the interaction. This can easily navigate users through the buying journey and gather the relevant information along the way.

Lemonade and Insurify are great examples of new-age insurtechs already doing this — by using extensively user-tested pages with simple, clean CTAs strategically positioned along with the page, drawing the users scroll to each next step.

Lemonade Insurance

Another approach to disseminating the right policy information at the right time is to demonstrate the utility of the product through simple and effective storytelling. This way, the policy is broken down into easily digestible chunks that are always accessible to the user at any stage of their lifecycle with an insurer and avoids their dependency on legal confusing jargon. Insurers can also allow the user to craft their own policy (eg: lemonade insurance), which allows the user to experience exactly how their coverage works in-and-out.

  1. Quick Support & Advice
    Buying insurance protection is often unplanned and can be an emotional decision — since customers are looking to protect their life, health, home, family, or possessions. The process is usually mired with the hassle of navigating poorly designed experiences that don’t pay attention to an individual’s immediate or future needs but rather focuses on selling a generic product with no unique features. This makes the very idea of designing personalized user experiences extremely modern and a conscious path to the future of ‘individualized selling’. Insurers will have to present an uncluttered, clean, and straight-to-the-point visual website with simple & memorable messaging, and a conversational wizard that gives every user the freedom to explore freely and transition fluently across each stage in the buying process.
Customer Journey

Design thinking is all about product innovation for the best customer experience. A customer-first approach has been proven to create better business ROI, that demonstrably improves the customer-company dynamic. The right UX expert can bring an unbiased view into what your customer feels, and point out where the relationship, for insurers, can finally begin to improve.
To know more about how our customer-first design approach is solving insurer challenges across their customer journeys, reach out to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com.


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[Interview] Mr. Alex Jimenez | Digital Customer Experience in Covid-19 Times

7 minutes read

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon an unprecedented change in our daily lives and routines. Consumer behavior is changing constantly. Lockdowns and social distancing have led to huge losses for businesses across industries. The world is heading towards an economic slowdown. Under these circumstances, organizations are facing many challenges to keep their businesses going. Insurers too are facing similar issues. Some insurance lines such as motor, travel, home have suffered a business loss due to low demand.

To understand the impact of this crisis, especially in the USA, we interviewed Mr. Alex Jiminez, Strategy Officer at Extractable from California, and learned more about creating better digital customer experiences in these testing times. 

Extractable is a strategic consulting, design, and data analytics agency focused on the future of financial services. His other recent experience includes leading technology strategic planning for the office of the CIO, at Zions Bancorporation, and managing Digital Banking and Payments Strategy and Innovation at Rockland Trust. Alex has been named to several industry influencer lists in the areas of FinTech, RegTech, Blockchain, InsurTech, Innovation, and Digital Marketing. He has been featured in the Irish Tech News and the Independent Community Bankers of America’s (ICBA) Independent Banker.

Connect with Mr. Alex Jimenez – LinkedIn

The excerpt from the interview:

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the financial services industry

What is the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the financial services industry, and how is the industry responding to the ongoing crisis in the US?

In the wake of the current crisis, organizations are more focused on keeping the operation going, trying to set-up work stations for remote working, dealing with customers and working with them over digital platforms. But very few are focusing on the future which is preparing for the after-effects of this pandemic on the economy. 

In-person communication is still an important mode of interaction with customers in the US banking sector. But now the issue is how to provide good services to clients? Some of our customers are going to experience digital models for the first time. 

Organizations that have well-defined Digital Strategies and Customer-First approach will be able to provide good support to their customers. Organizations that are late into this space are more likely to face problems in the future.

[Related: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Global Economy and Insurance]

Changing customer preferences

How can companies reach out to their customers in this New Normal world?

We have already started to move towards a digital-centric world which is just going to accelerate. We will see businesses who have earlier ignored their digital capabilities will now build more on them. 

The first video call was invented in the 60s and was not so appreciated as everybody thought it was expensive and complicated. Today we have FaceTime, Zoom but adoption has not happened on a larger scale. But this will soon accelerate. Customers will be comfortable dialing into a video chat with their Insurance agent. 

I don’t believe there’ll be a New Normal. For example, in the US after 9/11 people thought that life will never get back to normal but except for rigorous security screening at the airports, there hasn’t been much change in the behavior. 

In Israel, amidst all the constant disturbance, people in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are living normal lives. There’ll certainly be some specific changes post the pandemic such as more adoption of digital technologies, more focus on customer needs but I believe there won’t be an entirely new world with a drastic change in consumer behavior.  

The need for personalization

What are some Attention hacking lessons for Insurers operating in ‘the New Normal’?

We are moving towards the personalization of products in general. Generally in Life Insurance, we insure people based on their date of birth or medical history. But what if we insure people based on their behavior? If we did that, would people change their more risky behavior to get a better rate? A non-smoker can be given a better rate as opposed to a smoker. If we get down to individuality, saying that this is your individual (your own) rate; it makes a difference. 

There is a lot of data available and AI is needed to mine that data and derive analytics. Just by building a relationship with customers, we are not doing a great job with personalization. It’s important to apply a human touch to the communication which makes customers feel like you know them. Thus, retaining their attention.

Digital customer experience in Insurance

For the insurance industry, what steps can help in delivering the right digital customer experience in terms of UX and visual design?

A lot of organizations practice Design Thinking but Financial Services don’t. They are of the opinion that they know what is needed as they themselves are customers and they have data from the surveys. But that’s a wrong approach. Design Thinking is about empathy. It is important to get into the shoes of your clients to design better solutions.

To enhance digital customer experience, Insurers need a thorough understanding of users — who are the ultimate clients, their needs, what they expect from this experience, etc. After comprehending how they engage with technology and financial services, start venturing into the solution and test the solutions with actual users.

Innovations in the financial services industry

What technology-based innovations are being explored within the financial services industry? And, do you see AI playing a role in the short term? 

AI has already affected Financial Services in a positive way and will make it better. In insurance, IoT has been very impactful and will continue to be. Some applications have already been applied in reality like sensors in cars to detect speed and ensure that you are under the speed limit. This helps in getting reduced premiums. 

However, some basic processes are still done in the old school way of shuffling papers. Straight though-out processes have not yet happened. Now RPA is being applied to this but it is more like a band-aid. What is more important is how we can build processes through true automation with AI.

[Related: 5 Insurance Front Office Operations AI Can Improve]

Adoption of AI in Insurance

Speaking about more adoption of technologies, do you think there’ll be more investment in AI now?

Absolutely! We have already seen that investment in technologies like AI, cloud computing, quantum computing has been ramping up. Businesses will invest much more in AI than before. It might be for better decision making, underwriting, understanding the behavior of clients, etc. Also, from a marketing standpoint, financial services have never focused much before but will now invest in AI for this area too.

[Related: How is AI extending customer support during COVID-19 pandemic]

In your recent article in Extractable – “Deploying third-party financial service technology to mitigate crisis” you talk about what tech vendors are doing wrong. Please expand on how to encourage resources to be innovative change agents?

There were two points that I made in the article-

First is about what companies are doing incorrectly when it comes to innovation. Risk management is consulted only after developing the product. The product release is stalled until the legal compliances are adhered to. Instead, companies should involve the risk management at the beginning of the process (while defining the problem and solution). Involving risk management at every step of the innovation process will make it much easier to push out innovation.

The second was about vendor management. Many small vendors such as tech vendors, InsurTechs want to sell solutions to financial service companies but are often surprised by the tedious vendor management process. There’s a lot of documentation. Once the first process of selling is done, vendors should package the documentation in a way that when the next prospect asks for it, the due diligence package is ready to offer. 

Read article – Deploying third-party financial service technology to mitigate crisis 

Wrapping up

Alex shared interesting insights on how Design Thinking and Visual Design can create better digital customer experience. The design vertical at Mantra Labs too believes in the same and has designed UX for various applications for its customers. Here’s an article to understand the role of Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX): Creating Amazing Digital Customer Experiences

[Also read: [Interview] Mr. Andrew Warburton | The New Normal in Insurance]

AI is going to be essential for Insurers to gain that competitive edge in the post-pandemic world. Check out Hitee — an Insurance specific chatbot for driving customer engagement. For your specific requirements, please feel free to write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com. 


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