Can an e App Have Empathy

Can an eApp Have Empathy? Innovative Insurance CX Solutions

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Customer experience and customer interactions are constantly changing and are accelerating in the nature of the change. So, you've really just got to embrace the messiness.

‒ Doug McElhaney, Partner, McKinsey & Company


How do you create engagement‒not just experiences?

In the opening session, of the Official Life & Annuity Sponsor workshop on Re-Engineering Your End-to-End Customer Experience, Celent’s Head of Insurance Markets for Life & Health, Dan McCoach showed us the future of CX as revealed in their latest research. The biggest issue for insurers to grapple with is how to catch up to what other industries are doing for their customers. How can insurers go beyond messy digital + paper customer interactions and create true lifelong engagement?

Mastering CX moments of truth

That’s a unique challenge in our industry. Life insurance clients don’t need to interact with the company very often. So, every ‘moment of truth’‒from an initial sales interaction to policy approval to service to claims‒has to be crafted to engage customers. Those moments, and all the activity that surrounds them, need to be so compelling and add so much value, that customers are drawn to make your enterprise and products an integral part of their lives.

For companies still trying to streamline an approvals process that involves wet signatures and faxes, that sets a very high bar. But those who evolve truly digital capabilities, with the fewest steps, fastest responses and most transparent communication on a continuing basis are the ones whose brands will resonate most.

An insurer who can integrate advisor help to educate, motivate and smooth frustrations will win consumer trust. Those who can marry data analytics with human interest and needs to craft seamless ongoing discussion will set themselves apart.

How can insurers fix yesterday’s CX mess‒from CRM to claims?

We convened a panel to break the challenge down, examining each stage of the policy lifecycle and proposing solutions to the very real CX issues.

From the outset, in the marketing and discovery phase, every interaction determines a customer’s disposition towards your company for decades to come.

For Raj Ramani (Partner, Americas Customer and Growth Leader at EY), those first steps are all about demonstrating empathy and building trust. But the critical question is, how do you do those two things in an online environment? Can an eApp reflect an understanding of a consumer’s feelings at the moment they are completing it?

I think the answer is, yes. If done right. If built from the customer moment out, instead of constructed according to the informational needs of the company. If it respects their time and understands they are motivated to buy insurance in that moment by some level of worry. If it recognizes that this is a stressful choice for many. That it’s a decision that should be rewarded, not punished with demands for blood or a grilling about the personal habits they are least proud of.

The pandemic has shown that simplified guaranteed products make that kind of online sales design possible. Now it’s up to insurers to leave legacy processes and ways of thinking about customer interaction behind, and re-imagine a world in which trying to qualify to buy insurance is as enjoyable as discovering a new book by a favorite author.

And for non-guaranteed products, the role of the advisor is critical. Their most crucial skillset is trust-building, empathizing and gently educating. They are communicators and relationship builders. The best are advocates for their clients. And as digitalize we shouldn’t ignore the central role they will always play in life-long customer engagement.

There’s customer understanding… and then there’s customer UNDERSTANDING

All CX is, at heart, data driven. The questionnaires agents used to use to understand prospects’ fears and hopes, their interests and challenges, were a form of data analytics. Just as much as today’s AI and machine-learning solutions.

We’ve made advances, but we’re not yet at the point other industries have reached, where super-accelerated processes and hyper-personalization are possible. We are not that good with data yet. Which is ironic, given how much of it we have and how many generations we’ve been collecting it for.

Why is the industry’s data-capability lagging?

The closing session of the afternoon examined data opportunities to re-imagine CX. The big revelation? What looks and feels like a data-problem is usually something else entirely.

Do you have a CX data problem or an organizational problem?

To harness the raw power of our vast volumes of data, Alan Dulin (Global Head of Insurance Solution Consulting, Oracle​), advocated solutions that exist today such as stewardship and data governance, data quality initiatives, and metadata management, architecture, and analytics. At the same, Don Nieland (Sr. Vice President & Corporate Secretary, Better Life Insurance​) pointed out that insurers are often caught in a trap that is not technological, but organizational. They don’t have a ‘data problem’, they face much larger cultural, structural and change management issues that must be addressed to evolve into a true data-driven organization.

As Doug McElhaney (Partner, McKinsey & Company) said:

In companies where data is owned by everybody, in reality, nobody has ownership of the data.

Organizations need to have the hard conversations that bring clarity around structural ownership of data throughout the enterprise. As the importance of data to a company grows, responsibility for its management across the enterprise needs to be elevated‒to C-suite or even board levels. And, then, within that framework, holistic teams, working across functional areas can address how to surface and transform the data needed to drive revolutionary CX throughout the policy lifecycle and across the value chain.

CX is about people. Customers…having experiences. How that goes is up to you.

If there’s one echoing message from the afternoon it’s that technology, digitalization, automation & analytics, and the data that powers all of that are wonderful. But, as Mike Allee (President of Universal Conversion Technologies) pointed out, there is and will always be a fundamental human element in every touch point we have with our customers. And, when we harness technology to enrich and deepen customers’ lives, we create unbeatable value and lasting engagement.

Those are just a few of the CX insights revealed during the Re-Engineering Your End-to-End Customer Experience Workshop at ITC. Check out the full webcast for all the insights from what was a terrific afternoon with leading CX experts.

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