- The insurance industry is facing increasing pressure to provide a more personalized and digital customer experience.
- By adopting a customer-centric approach and investing in digital transformation, insurers can differentiate themselves in the market and build stronger customer relationships.
- Providing personalized and efficient services, creating transparency in communication, and maintaining data privacy are key to delivering a positive customer experience and enhanced customer interactions.
Here we are in a brand-new year, working away under the impression that every business sector has successfully undergone digital transformation.
But what about the insurance industry? Although high-level stakeholders understand the importance of digital transformation for insurance customer satisfaction, we're just not seeing it being put into practice.
However, having agreed that the maturity of their customer engagement is not up to today's standards, insurers are starting to develop digital transformation budgets. Put plainly, insurance businesses simply cannot afford to ignore this enormous opportunity to streamline operations and boost profitability. Accordingly, their representatives are engaging with strategic UX and design groups to investigate any new business opportunities they can unearth.
So, that's the project brief
Measure and improve the maturity of an insurance company’s customer experience (CX).
Which is all well and good. However, on the back end, team members have several years invested in the company’s legacy systems. Digital transformation means learning new digital tools and understanding new digital technologies — new community communication channels carrying new workflows. In other words, upheaval. And people are nervous of change (particularly these days).
How do we tackle this digital insurance dichotomy?
Digital transformation through a human-centered approach
Digitally-fluent. Experience-led. Outcome-oriented.
Evaluating customer experience metrics for insurance
A couple of years ago, a multinational insurance company came to Luxoft with their book of business. Their CX maturity had remained static for something like 20 or 30 years and the insurer wanted to bring their processes up to date. This was our engagement plan:
- 24 months (plus extension to cover new products and support-related tasks)
- Strategy and design directors, two business strategists and two product designers
- UX research and user testing
- New baseline layout for a superior customer experience
- Portal workflow blueprints
- Wireframes and sitemap
- Embed into company agile sprint cycles
- Production-ready design files to dev team
As a preliminary, our CX strategy team carried out insurance user experience and stakeholder interviews. The learnings formed the basis of a series of workshops in which the team worked with our client to map the whole ecosystem and understand the current makeup and condition of their various applications.
While analyzing the maturity of the business strategy and workflow, we learned that, although the stakeholders were more than happy to go through this process, many of the admin staff and underwriters had severe doubts. Comments like, “Why? This isn't broken.” “We’re used to working this way.” “Why are we changing?” Underwriters couldn't understand how automation could replicate, never mind improve, what they do. It had taken them decades to build up the niche knowledge, skills and deep understanding of the human psyche, essential for their work. Trying to align two groups of insurance professionals with competing viewpoints was intriguing.
Excel ruled OK... still
We found administrators and brokers still working with Excel spreadsheets for reporting functions; in one case, a list which was updated by brokers managing large accounts across different sectors like automotive, home and business insurance. In this case, a large transportation company needed to insure hundreds of trucks and drivers, updating the list every month via the following, long-winded process:
- Excel spreadsheet sent out to broker
- Spreadsheet completed and returned
- Admin staff loaded the data into database
- Data assessed by a financial administrator
- Charges assessed (premiums)
- Invoice dispatched to broker
- Broker received and paid invoice
Back to the future
You can imagine the high level of effort and error this payment cycle generated. In fact, admin staff were using seven different applications each day to get the job done (some programs designed and developed in Cobalt.) Not surprisingly, there's a big move to develop young engineers who know Cobalt because tempting old timers out of retirement with big bucks to provide the retro skills and lost knowledge is simply too expensive.
The idea that a multinational insurance provider was still operating with old systems like this highlighted how their processes were built like Lego bricks on top of different technology stacks.
One view, several viewpoints
The strategy team took an essential step toward understanding the maturity of the business and the digital customer experience platform by establishing a series of 12 workshops. The purpose was to mind map how systems and communication strategies worked across existing systems, including how the users engaged with brokers and vice versa.
Going through that whole interview cycle with both users and stakeholders was central to understanding how we could upgrade the maturity of the business and the digital experience. After validating the customer feedback report (including key strategies) with the stakeholder team, we could move on.
Simplification in four phases
All this was before embarking on any digital insurance design work. We began by discussing modification of the customer experience to simplify the process for both client and broker in four phases:
- Workshops: We organized 12 workshops, reviewing 200 — plus screens and several workflows. This identified areas that could improve customer satisfaction scores and workflows while reducing screens by 50% (so the user doesn't have to click umpteen times to get something done)
- User story creation: Using the new user flows and workshop findings, we created over 300 user stories — the basis for a new backlog. The user stories were built in Miro to enable client review and collaboration, then exported to Jira to plan future sprints for the dev team
- North Star alignment: To capture output from the workshops, the team created a UX strategy document which focused our efforts on modernization and new portal applications.
- UX audit and wireframes: We conducted a UX audit to pinpoint the most significant opportunities. Based on those findings, we began creating wireframes to explore a new direction
Overcoming challenges to the customer experience in insurance
The first strategy from the findings document was concerned with improving workflow. When you see the mind map of all the different systems with which people communicate, you realize just how complicated the workflow can be. That’s why simplifying working practices was at the top of our recommendations list.
Secondly, users must be allowed clear communication and be able to interact with the new portal on their own terms. It's about maintaining customer engagement, and if they want to be notified in a certain way, so be it. Opt in for texts to communicate faster? Tick.
Keeping the user at the heart of digital insurance is essential. Allowing that sort of omnichannel communication rather than old-school sharing via emails — which would inevitably sit on a server until someone on the other end decided to read them — satisfies all manner of customer expectations.
Developing one superior customer experience where both parties could see the reports and business being billed, paid and upgraded was a significant breakthrough.
Time and tide wait for no-one
Actually, that was one of the biggest criticisms that we came across during business maturity evaluations. The internal teams weren’t responding quickly enough. Allowing 24 hours for an email response is unheard of in this day and age; things happen more-or-less in real time these days. Users have learned to demand immediate answers to problems, regardless of urgency.
Therefore, we set out to simplify the workflow process for our client, creating a portal which would help admin staff and brokers to share information. With the new portal, users could set up notifications that alerted colleagues to monthly report deadlines, reminders and other important issues, saving time and effort all round.
User-centered design is the modern way
Most users think mobile-first, and so do digital insurers and CX designers. Focused, responsive design minimized the navigation, delivering consistent patterns and interactions which flexed across all screen sizes. Being mobile-ready is one of the guiding principles of UX and UI design.
But before we start designing or modernizing the digital experience, we test our strategy with users. We have an as-is mind map of how systems work today and create a 2B mind map of how digital channel communication is likely to happen going forward. Putting the user and portal at the center of the insurance customer experience and allowing communication channels to flow around it was a simple and effective answer once validated through user testing.
Seven into one does go
Of course, we modernized everything we could, but it's not like we blew away all the client’s legacy systems — they could never be axed in one fell swoop. To avoid users having to use seven separate applications per task, we created a REST API layer to share data between those systems and the portal. So, if a bill was paid from a financial stack, everyone could see it through the portal, which notified both admin and broker.
Once we’d developed our digital insurance strategies and everyone was on board (including the internal technology team as the back-end system stayed the same), we could create new APIs to talk to the existing systems and the new portal.
If you’d like to continue the discussion about digital trends in the insurance industry and discover how Luxoft can help your company raise customer satisfaction to a whole new level by upgrading your digital experiences, let’s talk.