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Ways and Means to Build Trust in the Digital Era

This is part 2 of a 2-part series "Trust: The Key Ingredient for a Successful Insurance Customer Journey."

In Part 1 of our blog series, we discussed how important it is for an insurer to display and build trust in any customer experience. The trust factor has continued to rise and is becoming much more significant.

The buyer's journey is to garner trust. Buyers prior to 2010 usually rated insurance companies' trustworthiness and confidence level based on their responses to their inquiries. He validated information he collected from friends and relatives that were already existing customers. During that time, there was very little information about the insurer's finances in the public domain, so he had to rely on hearsay. In that process, the buyer zeroed in on a particular insurer or seller.

The buyer's assurances during this process may not withstand the test of court proceedings since they are more verbal in nature. So what was the way out? The most critical input in this process is feedback from the families of the existing customer. They have approached the Insurer to fulfill the obligations of their part and feedback on claim processes. It was surprising that the availability of the agent during this time period was a significant factor influencing the decision and creating a sense of confidence and trust among the customers.

In recent years, there have been changes in product expectation, experience, and how the customer interacts with the insurer. The interaction and expectation landscape has changed. Consumers consider Amazon as a role model and want the same kind of experience and trust. Amazon has achieved a leadership position by defining their business objectives a decade back as putting the “customer experience at the top of their short and long-term to-do list... They have planned for this future and built it, one satisfied customer at a time”.

Currently, all actors in the insurance industry are striving to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction and playing a vital role in the entire ecosystem. Below are 5 ways insurers are trying to gain the customer’s trust.

Gaining the Customer’s Trust

#1 REGULATOR

In order to increase confidence and policyholder protection, the Indian regulator has also done its part. A guideline has been issued; the claim cannot be repudiated based on incongruent documents or non-disclosure of facts after three years of policy issuance for Life Insurance and stipulated eight years as a lookback period in health insurance (lookback is defined after which no claim can be denied saying the disease was pre-existing at the time of first proposal submission and not disclosed by the insured / proposer).

#2 INFORMATION IN PUBLIC DOMAIN

The 21st century is the era of information, disclosures, and digital information. The same must be made accessible to the public at large. Working on the same lines and to bring the transparency of insurers' operations, all insurers have to disclose the health of Insurance operations at the end of every quarter. In this lengthy statement in terms of financial information, a section has been devoted to claim stats and claim movements. This ensures that insurance customers can make a well-educated decision and frame opinions on financial facts instead of hearsays.  

#3 COMMUNICATION

Insurers try to communicate that they can be trusted through their messaging and marketing strategies to ensure confidence. For example, LIC uses the motto “Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi.” Max Life Insurance’s latest ad uses ‘India ke Bharose ka Number’ as their tagline in the advertisement released in Sept 2021. It focuses on their best claim settlement ratio in the last 5 years of 99.35%.

#4 PROCESS REDESIGN


Trust is best communicated when the insurer says “We care for you” or “We trust you” in their actions. With the advent of E-commerce, e.g., Amazon, customer expectations have completely changed. Based on their experience with online transactions with players like Amazon, Uber, etc., customers have started asking for the same kind of experience in terms of trust and ease of doing business. Insurers have also learned and have started focusing on customer experience. Aiming to move forward on these expectations, insurers are redefining the customer journeys mapped to changing customer expectations and profiles of decision-makers in the 21st century. In this change, digital platforms are playing a vital role.

By 2022, global spending on CX is estimated to reach $640 billion

As part of its trust-building initiatives, insurers have re-visited products and reengineered processes. These new processes embed the AI interventions at each decision point. These helped the insurer ask relevant or detailed questions to a specific set of customers. Risk management models identify a risky customer for potential loss based on the trends of vast customers' experience. I agree this may put some inconvenience to some customers. Still, most customers have benefitted by reduced time to settle claims with fewer or bare minimum questions to process the claim.

Similarly, the onboarding process is getting redefined. Now the requirements get redefined for customer profiles based on bare minimum information. The biggest challenge for the insurer was to estimate the income of the proposer or life assured to arrive at a sum assured without any moral hazard. An insurer has integrated the credit score from credit bureaus at the back end. To customers, life has become simpler as they do not have to justify income-based high sum assumed.

67% of users say their standard for a good customer experience is higher than ever

Similarly, claim processes have been modified with the interventions of the AI and ML inputs. Also, the regulator reminds the speedier process in case of calamities and monitors the claim processed, TAT, etc., for every calamity.

All these tweaks to the process with the support of technology are communicating we are trusting you unless a group of customers displaying common characteristics does not betray the trust of the insurers.

#5 LISTENING


According to insurance companies, 74% of customers will switch brands if the purchasing process is too difficult. For every customer complaint, 26 other unhappy customers have remained silent. (Source: Lee Resource)

Insurers have committed additional resources in understanding customers' pain points in various transactions. Insurers have started declaring SLAs, and if it is breached, they look at it seriously. They also acknowledge there was a delay in the previous incident the next time they talk to the customer.

All of these changes can be felt and experienced in today's policyholder relationship with their insurer. The feeling that policyholders are listened to reverberates through the primary objectives of insurers. We must stand by them in times of need.

Conclusion

With the cumulative impact of all these steps, prospects are showing larger faith and trust in insurers. At the same time, policyholders or nominees continue to appreciate their decision to purchase insurance.

Organizations that started off on their journey early on have gained their customers' trust and are on a growth path. The organization that was late or just trying to catch up in this game is lagging and struggling to be in business. 

Interested in understanding the 'how' and 'why' of your Customer's journey? CRUX will share with you not just where your customers have been, but also how they have completed their journey and what's next for them. Click the link below to schedule a demo.

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Arun Agarwal
Arun Agarwal
Arun is a senior executive with over 24 years of experience in the BFSI sector. He has worked with leading insurers like Aviva and Pramerica Life and has led teams towards the achievement of the organization's long & short terms business goals. As an insurance domain expert, Arun has made significant contributions by driving excellence across operations, sales management and compensation policies and execution, financial planning & business strategy, MIS and regulatory reporting functions.

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