Insurers, customers go deeper than times of need

The insurance industry has undergone a shift in building customer relationships, with the traditional ‘only there during times of need’ approach renounced in favour of deeper, regular communication and constructing more frequent valuable experiences.

Speaking to attendees at FST Media’s Future of Financial Services, Sydney conference held at the ICC Sydney today, IAG’s Chief Operating Officer, Neil Morgan, said while it was critical for insurers to be there for customers during times of need so is regular relationship maintenance.

“The moments that really matter to our customers are the moments when they’re in their time of need and the experiences associated with that,” he said.

“We really value that opportunity to put peoples’ lives back together when something unpredicted happens. That’s a critical experience.

“The ongoing relationship that is typically an annual cycle or conversation has changed to more frequent interactions and allowed us to deliver on our purpose and make people safer on an ongoing basis.”

This sentiment was also noted by Charles Pizzato, Suncorp Group’s EGM Information Technology Infrastructure, during the conference on Thursday, where the opportunity has presented itself for the industry to use data for good.

Pizzato said the firm has utilised geospacial data stored in the cloud that tracks natural weather events to “plot on maps where customers are likely to be impacted by an event, proactively contact them, and suggest what ‘next steps’ they should be thinking about”.

He said this removes “pressure off customers at a challenging time” and can only “improve the claims experience” and customer relationship.

Morgan also said IAG’s digital journey has allowed it to better leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation where necessary and liberate employees to deliver on the all-important “human interaction” aspect.

“There are interactions we have with our customers where empathy is critically important and human interaction and the way we support customers is paramount,” he said.

“One of the ways we can do that better and improve is by deploying AI and other capabilities in transactions where that isn’t so critical and freeing ourselves up to invest in those interactions.

Morgan also highlighted how the new frequency and severity at which weather events have occurred in Australia recently has presented another industry challenge to overcome.

“Different customers have different priorities. It’s about being able to connect with those and support them in the right ways,” he said.

“As we deploy our tools across the organisation, this ability to be elastic is critical. We can scale up and scale down quickly. That lends itself to cloud architectures and the ability to use cloud services and data-heavy intense process, but also in support of periods with heightened claims activity.

“This is quite a good fit with a lot of the tools and digital capabilities we’re seeing now come to the fore with this native unpredictability.

“It’s about having that capacity to manage cross-regional, cross-geographical and cross-product. This concept of back-to-the-basics of insurance and the reuse and pooling of capacity and capability is what our core transformational effort is focused on.

“This creates the opportunity to innovate, optimise and apply digital use cases across the whole organisation.”