Omni-Channel and the Data Connection
Omni-channel is about much more than offering consumers different ways of getting in touch. It’s about giving them a joined-up experience via their chosen method of communication – even if they select a different method every time.
The challenge for everyone involved in the insurance ‘supply-chain’ is to make sure all the dots are connected to enable a consistent, seamless experience from the consumer’s perspective.
The Consumer Perspective
The omni-channel concept was created by technology. Because there are now many more ways people can communicate, businesses have more options for getting in touch or opening their (virtual) doors. But omni-channel doesn’t mean exclusively online or SMS. In fact, according to a global survey by Gartner (‘Survey Reveals Customer Diversity Drives Complexities, Risks and Costs for Insurers’), most people favour traditional channels when buying insurance, such as dealing with an agent face-to-face, or over the phone.
There is no one true way of connecting with insurance consumers. Different groups prefer different channels and, to make an already complex situation more complicated, many consumers use multiple channels over a single transaction. The challenge is to make sure that each interaction builds on the previous one from the consumers’ perspective, regardless of the chosen medium.
The Challenge of Omni-Channel
Omni-channel seems to be high on everyone’s list, with 70% of insurance retailers listing omni-channel as one of their top three priorities. But the reality is that delivering a seamless cross-media customer experience can be difficult. For the insurer, more than one department is responsible for the customer – departments that often work quite independently from each other. Presenting a seamless consumer experience requires those departments to work together in a way that they may not have done before.
And this situation becomes even more convoluted when several businesses are involved. A complex claim that needs external validation may move between broker, MGA, carrier, and the validation company. This presents an issue, not just for omni-channel, but for simply keeping on top of the status of the claim to keep the customer informed.
Omni-channel is fundamentally about ensuring the customers can get the answers or outcome they want, regardless of how they get in touch. The trick here is join up all the different moving parts.
Bringing the Data Together
At the centre of all this lies data. Data that needs to be collected, stored and used to inform people (through their systems) of the status and outcome of each point in the process. For example, you can’t give someone an update by text if there’s no record of the initial phone call, or the outcome of the underwriting department.
There’s a need to bring all the data together into one core database that is fed, and accessed, by all departments that are involved in the customer journey. And if separate businesses are part of that customer journey, this may mean integration across different systems. In fact, until this happens behind the scenes, the customer-facing part of omni-channel can’t really get off the ground.
A Crucial Foundation
A modern policy administration system (PAS) and advanced analytics solution are crucial for enabling an omni-channel experience. An innovative PAS for the global general insurance and property and casualty markets will facilitate omni-channel distribution. It will ensure that agents and customers are able to access real-time, accurate data from any device, and will help your conversion to a digitised environment and distribution system.
An advanced analytics solution will empower business users to leverage self-service analytics to rapidly draw conclusions and insights from raw data. This will significantly help those who are struggling to glean actionable insights from mountains of data as they formulate strategies to best determine which new products to bring to market.
Offering a true omni-channel experience isn’t simple for insurers, but it can be achieved with the right technology and partner.