An interview with Rebecca Neufeld


Sainsbury: What are your priorities for the next 12-18 months?


Neufeld: My priorities for the next 12-18 months is to continue to help grow our business through cross-sell campaigns and continue to build the infrastructure that is needed to support that in the markets.


Sainsbury: What do you see as the most significant technology developments in customer experience in insurance?


Neufeld: I see advanced analytics, front-end systems and campaign management tools as the most significant. The more seamless and integrated the customer experience, the better. 


Sainsbury: You have experience in a wide range of roles outside of financial services. How do customer expectations differ when it comes to insurance?


Neufeld: Since the relationship with the customer is usually a long-term one and deals with life issues such as health, wealth and lifestyle, customers expect a very high level of service.


Sainsbury: What challenges are there in maintaining a consistency of service across the various markets in Asia Pacific?


Neufeld: The typical challenges in having the ability to offer consistency of service usually comes from the fact that there usually are varying levels of maturity – both in terms of capacity and sophistication, across the markets.


In addition, it depends on how open and willing the country is to embrace change. The challenge is not just in maintaining the consistency – it is more about raising the bar and instituting best practices in all the markets to optimise their respective potential.


Sainsbury: What role do mobile applications play in the overall customer experience?


Neufeld: In markets or customer segments where customers are becoming more digital in their lifestyle, mobile applications are definitely becoming more important. I believe the role of these applications is to keep the customers engaged and interested in the overall experience whether it is to learn more about new products, promotions or new service capabilities. We have yet to see the online sales platform take off in Asia.


Sainsbury: What opportunities do you see in leveraging data to enhance the customer experience?


Neufeld: There are huge opportunities! The concept of big data is just as relevant to the insurance industry as it is to banking and other financial services. It would be wonderful to be able to capture data from all the different touch points, analyse and predict the behaviour of each customer. However, we need to make sure that we don’t get lost in the data and that the analysis serves a tangible and actionable business purpose.


Sainsbury: What upcoming technologies do you have your eye as potential opportunities for insurance?


Neufeld: I would be very interested to see what existing medical technologies can be leveraged in our business to help with underwriting and claims decision-making.


Sainsbury: Which business leaders have inspired you, and why?


Neufeld: From the brick and mortar business, it would be Jack Welch of GE and AG Lafley of Procter & Gamble (P&G) for both being the consummate leaders that they are.  Though they had very different management styles, both were very good at managing people and managing tasks and both have led their respective companies to heights of excellence. Many of our business leaders today have worked for either GE or P&G at some stage. The other set of business leaders that inspire me are Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia. I admire them for making both Google and Wikipedia indispensable information and educational tools for all of humankind.   


Sainsbury: If you weren’t working in financial services and technology, what would you be doing?


Neufeld: I would have probably been an architect or a psychologist.


Sainsbury: With financial services organisations looking to recruit talent from outside industries, what leadership skills do you see as most valuable to bring into the industry?


Neufeld: I would be looking for leaders that have the ability to look at things from both a creative and analytic perspective, the confidence to take risks and accept ideas from other people and the ability to positively motivate and inspire people. These would be leaders that are driven and guided by strong and solid values. They would be the values that I also believe in – excellence, innovation, integrity and diversity. Finally, leaders that not only look at the bottom line but see what value and impact their business is creating in today’s and tomorrow’s society. 


Related Links:

An interview with Poh Boon Siang, Regional IT Manager, AXA Insurance Singapore