Change for improvement’s sake, not for change’s sake
Paul Stanley, managing director, 360Globalnet, urges insurers to embrace transformational change to make things better (while they can) and counter potential existential threats from companies that understand we’re all digital customers today
We’re reading a lot about disruptive technologies. Some commentators are analysing their effect on some sectors and how they will continue to disrupt them; whereas others wonder how sectors, ripe for innovation will change and, through which technologies.
Having read and digested the sensible views of Robin Merttens on the subject of insurance innovation in his article ‘A slow change of gear’ I thought I’d offer up my own digest of what it is that360Globalnet, a company that I founded and continue to run, has built, and why it’s relevant to this debate.
As Robin rightly notes, a lot of companies have asserted that change will come to insurance but few have predicted the form this will take and how it might re-shape the industry.
Rather worryingly, there’s still a lot of talk about mobile apps and their role in disrupting the sector. What I have experienced is that customers are not “Appy” in the sense that there is limited real estate on a smartphone or tablet for “Apps” and those insurers who have dabbled in building them have found a general apathy amongst their customers to download and use them.
The question is why would I want to download an App from my insurer? What added value will it give me? Is it likely that WhatsApp, Uber, Twitter and Facebook will be utilised more frequently? The answer is yes to all of these. But what insurance customers do want is online service at the point of need. So, if they have a potential claim situation, the first port of call is Google to get the insurer’s phone number. To then discover that their insurer has conveniently allowed them to report, manage and settle their claim straight from the website would be a real boon. Or, if they call their insurer, the experience could be improved by initiating a specific link, sent to their mobile device, to start the online process. All this functionality contained in one online digital platform.
Founded in 2010, the vision for 360Globalnet was then, as it is now, to develop and invest in novel and disruptive digital technology and services to enable transformational change for insurers in an online mobile-first world. In order to work (the proof that it is working is borne out by the fact that we are working with several of the world’s leading insurers), required correctly identifying how things could work (differently) and to set about investing many millions of pounds in the relevant technologies, as well as the human expertise, to optimise these. This has seen development in several key areas:
Our prediction that customers were increasingly familiar with and comfortable using mobile devices to manage online transactions has been proven accurate. According to a KPCB internet trends report global mobile digital usage in 2014 has eclipsed other forms of internet usage and a Deloitte report notes that smart device ownership has grown significantly in the over 55 age group. In addition, most people are happy to provide data from these devices, when asked to. With this in mind, we devised 360SelfServe, customer self-service technology, so it had the wherewithal to lever all the functions of any mobile device in terms of imagery, video and text and to be agnostic of device and operating system. Customers are now fully empowered to settle their own claims which can be paid within hours of notification, revolutionising the customer experience and aligning it with the higher expectations of today’s digital world.
Leveraging the “gig” economy to provide faster and better service
To gather more complex information, or where there’s a greater need for accuracy, and also to provide the human touch where necessary; we built the ability to manage any remote workforce into our platform technology. Key to an insurer’s customer service, is to visit customers when the need arises, quickly and at a time to suit the customer. Our digital platform fundamentally changes things by enabling an ‘on demand’ workforce of up to 1,000 people across the UK that’s postcode-local to customers.
This model is scalable in times of surge and can be supplemented by an ‘on-demand’ settlement service. The claim detail in imagery/video/text is available to anyone, at any location, accessible via a standard Web browser. The claims can be settled the minute information is uploaded.
The point about these new settlement models is their flexibility, scalability and the ability to operate them anywhere. In management-speak it’s a distributed workforce model, sitting on top of an on-demand local workforce, neatly glued together by an online digital platform.
All data, whatever form it is captured in, is stored in the cloud (Amazon, to be precise). This enables easy adoption as well as affordable data storage so our customers can rocket-power their legacy systems, by seamlessly linking from customer/claim level, to a very agile cloud-based toolset. So, even if an insurer has inflexible legacy systems in-house, by plugging into our services and products, they can still access state-of-the-art digital capabilities. It also allows for us to provide attractive transaction-based pricing models, based on usage.
We have our own comprehensive data/analytics platform which provides all the MI/BI from not only our cloud-based systems but can also plug into any legacy system and draw down the totality of information to visualise it, in one place.
Our additional differentiator is the ability to lever all the unstructured data (basically documents and text) in any claim record which has been captured digitally. Our 360Retrieve product turns text fully searchable and capable of detailed analysis and output and visualised in the same way as traditional structured data. When 90% of an insurer’s information is locked up in text and unavailable for analysis, this is a huge leap forward, in its overall digital strategy.
If insurers are serious about embracing a business model that works for the customer – especially given the high number of millennial or Gen Y consumers that are due to be the largest purchasing group and that thrive on transparency and greater control in their buying relationships (source: PwC) – they clearly need to embrace digital across the board, from their product offerings, claims interactions, including customer engagement and loyalty.
Clearly some insurers are getting their act together and are making efforts to truly put the customer first. Customers using our 360SiteView platform - achieve approvals ratings and NPS scores that most others can only dream of. The pace of change is ever quickening – new and efficient business models are already here to transform the claims business for customers and insurers. What remains to be seen is whether the existing market will be able to change to make the maximum impact to their business? Or will it be left to new entrants or brands to take the next step change?