By: Tony van Niekerk, Editor COVER magazine
With 2020 behind us we can now focus on a whole new year of opportunity.
My biggest take out from 2020 is the impact of a massive and rapid move from a face to face environment to a socially distanced, digitally connected society. One of the main fall-outs of this is escalation of uncertainty, in a country already plagued by major social, economic, political challenges and a world struggling with cyber security and manipulative conventional/social media. Add to this the well publicised Business Interruption Insurance fall-out in the short-term industry, and you have a consumer base that needs tender loving care. Bear in mind that for the average consumer, insurance is insurance, whether motor, business or life insurance.
Trust has been an issue that the industry has been grappling with for years, and this has really been stretched to the limit over the past year. Herein lies the opportunities. I would like to recommend a few very specific touch points to optimise on these opportunities:
The real value of intermediation lies in the personal trust that comes from human interaction, a familiar face that is easily accessible and an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the individual, the risks involved and the solutions available. Intermediaries now need to take advantage of this opportunity with a thorough evaluation of their total value chain, looking at every touch point and evaluating it from a “client trust” perspective, considering the points below.
I need to add Advisory as a separate touch point, as a large part of our industry does not fit into the intermediary box any more. Here, fees based investment advisors, financial planners/ advisors, risk managers, assessors etc, all form a valuable space in the financial services industry and are a crucial link in establishing trust in the industry. Most of the points in this discussion apply to them in the same way that it does to the rest of the industry.
Every insurer, intermediary and advisor I speak to has been spending a large amount of time and money on the route to optimising the use of technology in their businesses. We have not even touched the tip of this iceberg of opportunity. Enhancing the customer experience, simplifying the user experience and personalising the interaction are all opportunities to regain trust. The secret lies in finding the right technology partner and creating a clear journey to digitisation.
- Client services
Clients need reassurance. Their world has been turned upside down and they have spent hours on social media to see what other people are doing and how their peers are managing these vast changes. This includes evaluating insurance providers and their response to the pandemic. Issues such as premium holidays, pay as you drive, medical aid response to COVID claims, Business Interruption etc, are all in the mix, with most clients not really understanding the technicalities. There needs to be a clear client services strategy to address these issues.
The magic of great communication flows like gold nuggets throughout the financial services value proposition. Now, more that ever, effective, well targeted communication from advertising and marketing, to take on, client management and claims, will be essential to regain any trust that the industry have lost during this period. The industry has taken fantastic steps to assist clients during this period. We must not lose that momentum now.
- Simple products
This is nothing new, but this period has again revealed the shortcomings in the lack of simplicity of our products and the disclosure process. It is essential that we meet clients where they are. The Ombudsman reports illustrate every year that disclosure is an issue with most complaints, and this is directly linked to product complexity in many instances.
One of the ways COVER aims to address some of the above issues is with a series of webinars, to be hosted in February and March, focussed on the innovation process. We will look at the insurance innovation journey from the bottom up, discussing challenges in digitisation, steps to improving the effectiveness of your innovation strategy and how to choose partners, amongst many other issues. This series will be linked to three Masterclass events to provide some practical input into the innovation journey, from various angles. Look out for the invitation to attend. We are also excited to announce that our Insurtech conference will now be held in May and will most likely be a virtual event.
Looking forward to sharing these events with you in the quest to fantastic innovation in 2021. The opportunities await.