The product has changed, even in insurance

By Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager, thryve

The impact of technology often comes up in conversations I have, usually about how it’s changing things. People fret about ideas such as digital disruption or being replaced by technological efficiency.

Concerns like those are valid. Disintermediation is something that many service-based industries should be worried about. The middlemen are not as important or crucial as they used to be. But that’s missing the greater point. The real change technology has brought is how the market views what insurers do. The product paradigm has shifted: it’s not so much about what you sell, but the relationships you have with clients.

But Riaan, you might say, relationships have always been important in this industry. Yes, that is true. Yet let me labour the English language by saying it’s even truer now. The greatest effect of technology has been to simplify and improve the many mundane tasks that are related to relationships.

Customers are realising that brokers and underwriters have the means to understand their business and competitive landscapes more deeply. There is an expectation that you must know much more about them and then use that information to serve them more effectively. This can take the form of cross-selling, addressing unspecified pain points and making it easier for the client to have more hands-on interactions with their policies.

These steps don’t require more lunches with customers. They don’t need you to pick up the tab. They need you to be on the ball. It’s why the product has changed: customers take good policies and services as a fact. What they want to see is how you demonstrate a nuanced understanding of their requirements.

The reason why customers have these expectations is that the background technologies are not only more efficient but also better integrated. They can help brokers build those richer and deeper views. Yet too many brokerages lack such a capability because they still rely on decentralised systems that create fractured profiles of a customer.

Modern systems can draw from many different areas and datasets within your and the customer’s organisations to establish a thorough profile which you can exploit for the best services. These profiles can be further enhanced using intelligent analytics and 360 customer views that agents access via equally innovative service portals.

So why aren’t insurance houses jumping onto this trend? Firstly, it’s not been available for incredibly long: Salesforce Financial Services Cloud (FSC) specifically for Insurance, arguably the market leader in this area, was launched as recently as 2018. See press release here. So many aren’t aware of the benefits.

Many also think it involves an expensive and painful transition. But that isn’t the case. While such changes will certainly have bumps in the road, platform-based services such as FSC can be deployed then scaled, and are funded through operational and subscription models that can also be scaled. They are much easier to customise and adopt new service modules without becoming complicated and fragile.

In other words, you can start with a small and inexpensive FSC footprint that can be expanded and enhanced with very little risk or future legacy problems. There are many good reasons to interact with these new service platforms and see what they can do for your operations.

This is the new reality of the insurance world: the product is no longer the policy, but the capacity by which you can serve customers, and the catalysts are modern systems that help you do this faster, better and more prudently.

Joining that new reality is much easier than you think. But ignore it at your peril. The product has changed and so must insurance.