Guidewire’s product marketing manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa, on how the insurance industry must meet the demands of the modern consumer

Mark Mullin, Guidewire

Many insurers are just beginning to come to grips with the demands being placed on them by their customers.

Consumers and businesses have become accustomed to interacting with providers of goods and services – like Amazon, Google, John Lewis – where they can expect a tailored experience based on the intimate knowledge that those companies have of the customer’s habits, likes, dislikes and needs.

Financial services organisations, and insurers in particular, have not prepared for the demands that these new-age consumers are now beginning to place on them.

At a recent conference in Berlin, we conducted a roundtable discussion over lunch with insurers from multiple countries and regions across the world. Comparing notes on how they work with their customers produced an expected range of current capabilities, with the

Nordics leading the way in the provision of an omni-channel, customer focused engagement model.

What was most interesting was that, although some countries are well behind in delivering this experience to customers, the rapidity with which they are catching up is astounding.

As insurers come to grips with this reality, and the speed with which change is happening, numerous challenges begin to come into focus.

The technologies used by consumers in their journey with the insurer are changing at a much greater pace than the core technologies that underpin the insurer’s operations. Past decisions to implement point solutions, which seemed prudent – or at least were expedient – at the time, now constrain many insurers to the point of paralysis. Enabling new distribution channels, launching tailored products to address the morphing segmentation of the customer base – for many this is treading water at best.

Some insurers have come to grips with the need to transform their businesses to meet these challenges head on. The commitment required, the investment, the risks, are not insignificant. It is very tempting to do that next expedient thing.

Those that avoid that temptation, and truly transform their business culture, are embarking on what is often a huge task. We have seen first-hand the benefits that can be realised - and these stories show what can be done with the right commitment to business and technological innovation.

At the end of the day, what will drive all this by necessity is that the consumer is the owner of the relationship. More than ever the customer is empowered to demand, and expect, a level of service, a customer experience that reflects their own special needs - which tomorrow will not be the same as they are today. Once again, the only constant is change.

Mark Mullin has more than 30 years’ experience in the insurance, financial services and related industries in
North America and Europe, plus recent experience in South-East Asia

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