Category: Technology

Keeping up with the pace of innovation

By Gijsbert Cox, Industry Leader, Insurance, EMEA at Appian, examines how insurers can close the information gaps between old and new technology for a better customer experience.

The rising consumer demand for digital and mobile services by consumers, has meant that UK insurers have been under constant pressure to adapt to meet their expectations. This pressure has been made all the more intense by the global insurtech disruptors who have been increasingly successful at making omnichannel digital experiences the norm. If that were not challenging enough for UK insurers, like every other business in 2020, they were dealing with COVID-19 and the major organisational challenges of transitioning large workforces to remote working, continuity planning, and issues such as self-assessments of occupational risks.

The pandemic has meant that insurers are now caught between the need to invest in new technology and controlling costs. However, digital transformation is no longer optional for insurance companies – traditional insurers need to improve and modernise their product offerings to adapt to new customer behaviours and expectations. Achieving this means investing in technology that can be integrated into their exiting IT environment.

The challenge of legacy systems

For many years, traditional insurers have been hampered by the challenge of having to reuse and unite legacy systems, which have worked to create watertight silos that hinder the flow of information between business departments. Despite often spending more on IT than other industries, traditional insurers are still finding they are lagging behind in terms of technological efficiency.

As an example, many insurers’ front of shop websites and apps can look quite advanced, but behind this façade there are often varied and disconnected systems in play. That means when it comes to the customer moment of truth – such as making a claim, which is the most common reason for a consumer to contact their insurer – customers expect that by using a modern website or app, it will be a streamlined omnichannel digital process. Instead, they commonly find they get only a small way through the claims process online, before they are redirected to a contact centre.

That need to switch channel, creates a friction point and bad customer experience for the customer, whose expectation was to have a fully digital experience, in line with what they might encounter when interacting online with other organisations, such as their bank or a retailer.

For the insurer too it is a challenge, as much more work is needed to interact with customers offline. Creating a solution in which the customer relationship can be managed end-to-end digitally comes with huge cost savings and advantages for the insurer.

Many big insurers have managed to remain competitive, despite these inefficiencies, due to their access to resources and money. However, the digital transformation to sector happening across the globe, means that it is essential to remove these inefficiencies and prioritise improving the customer experience.

A constantly evolving claims process

For insurers, rapid change isn’t new. Insurance companies must constantly adapt to regulatory changes from the industry, country, and region they operate in. A potent mix of COVID-19, regulatory changes, and changing customer expectations will mean that claims processes may continue to evolve in a couple of ways:

  • Firstly, to human behaviour. As the way we have lived and worked in the last 12 months has changed, so too have the types of insurance claims. Travel and hospitality cancellations have spiked, for instance, but burglary claims on home insurance have understandably lowered. As always, insurers must adapt their products, services and operations as human behaviour and risk changes
  • Secondly, to new ways of operating. Remote working has forced changes to how customer services and claims are handled. Customers are now more likely to use digital contact points rather than phone or mail. We know that change in how customers access services is revealing potholes in insurers’ “digital roads” where data remains dispersed across siloed systems

Bringing the old and new together

Insurance IT departments are being challenged to build an agile layer that better serves customers and improves business efficiency. COVID-19 has taught businesses that a constantly changing market requires adaptability and flexibility baked into all the technology decisions insurers make.

Customers and agents/intermediaries increasingly demand seamless omnichannel experiences, which are impossible to achieve if insurers’ back-end systems do not communicate with each other. Therefore, customer-centric applications must be developed to close these information gaps, while adapting interfaces to new mobile environments.

Modernisation through low-code makes it possible to achieve this integration, while also automating tasks and processes to provide a full view of the customer. It also allows for seamless interaction between customer, intermediary and insurer by email, telephone, video chat or instant messaging. Internal processes incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) also plays an essential role, making it possible to take full advantage of customer information to improve the user experience, evaluate risk more intelligently, and optimise policy reviews and renewals while identifying cross-selling opportunities.

A great example can be seen in London headquartered multinational insurer Aviva’s use of low-code and Appian Cloud.  Over the past 320 years, Aviva has inherited 750 different insurance companies – along with their many systems, data, and processes.  Aviva needed to simplify its operations so that agents would no longer need to sift through legacy systems to get the relevant data to take the right action when helping a customer.  Aviva chose Appian Cloud to integrate 22 different systems and provide a single unified platform for call center operations. Agents now have a 360 degree view of their customers and can quickly act on customer needs. As a result, Aviva has seen 9X acceleration of customer service response times.

Low-code is enabling the insurance industry to meet the challenges it faces. It supports digital transformation in the insurance industry by covering all lines of business, and through omnichannel capabilities to improve the customer experience. It also allows the integration of third-party AI services, such as machine-learning and intelligent document processing, among others.

Low-code technology has allowed the insurance sector to respond to the challenges it faces, accelerating digital transformation with little additional code development, and better still, an improved customer experience.