Our Profitable Customer Growth in Financial Services podcast series explores the role of innovation and the disruptive technologies that will enable firms to transform and optimise their businesses for growth.

In our second podcast, Kieran Lesforis— Accenture Senior Manager—was joined by journalist Lindley Gooden and James Henderson—Head of Marketing at Aviva—to discuss how insurance companies can drive growth through advanced personalisation and value-added services. The debate was compelling and wide-ranging, building on the insights from our first podcast, which looked at how financial services firms can deliver customer excellence by serving “a million markets of one”.

Personalisation in insurance has arrived. Despite the industry’s advances in providing ever more convenient and friction-free digital offerings, today’s insurance customers also want a ‘human touch’ and added value from their provider—especially for the big moments that matter in their lives. And while meeting customers’ expectations for hyper-relevant interactions, experiences and offerings can be challenging, it also creates huge opportunities—because those insurers that get it right can build deeper customer relationships, boost revenues and seize market share.

Data, analytics and machines

But achieving all this means answering some questions, such as, what do the new personalised insurance products and services look like? How can data, analytics and machines be best used to create and deliver products and services within a total customer experience? As companies look to maintain the personalised human touch, which value-added services will have the biggest impact­—by ensuring customers get the best possible offers while driving profits up?

Lindley got the ball rolling by asking what companies need to focus on to deliver a “total customer experience.” This is a hot issue for the industry. And the answer comes down to every element of the end-to-end interaction and relationship—including a brand’s ability to demonstrate how well it knows the customer as an individual and use that information to make their entire experience as seamless as possible. “Demonstrate you know me, and you know who I am as an individual. Connect me to broader services that make my life. All these actions contribute to the total customer experience” explained Kieran.

However, achieving all this requires more than personalisation alone. “For me, personalisation helps brands to deliver relevant and meaningful services or products to the customers,” explained James. “That’s great. But it’s not enough to just have a personalised proposition. There’s the whole infrastructure, targeting, and ultimately—and most importantly—you have got to have a compelling proposition at the end of the day. You know if you are personalising something that is average, it doesn’t matter. You have to have a powerful proposition as well.”

A personal touch at scale

The discussion then zeroed in on how insurance companies can achieve a personal touch at scale. Two key components came to the fore: first, having the right volume and quality of data to enable advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to predict what customers want; and second, having the infrastructure set up in the right way to respond in the moments that matter for customers. On top of these elements, having people in the organisation who are responsible for specific initiatives helps drive continuous improvement and rising value.

The key is having the right information to get a clear view of the customer, so the company can contact them about relevant things at the right time. One proven approach to achieving this is creating an analytics ‘hub’, by bringing together an insurer’s data scientist in a single practice and extending their remit from pricing, to the entire customer journey. As a result, parts of the business that may never have used behavioural analytics can ask for resource and focus on solving a customer problem that they couldn’t have solved before.

These insights triggered a discussion about what value-added services will become most important in the next few years. According to James, the key to creating and delivering these lies in tapping into the ecosystem surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT). “Take home insurers as an example,” he said. “A customer’s home is not bricks and mortar any more. A customer’s home includes all of the services that they have—everything from their virtual assistants, smart fridge, smart cams, you know, everything. What insurers need to do is make sure that they are there, they are relevant and that they are able to provide the reassurance, the risk prevention, the actual insurance to that emerging and evolving definition of ‘home’.”

So, armed with wider data and insights like these, how can insurers be sure to offer the right product to the right customer at the right time? “The answer is for insurers to become application programming interface (API)-driven, use machine learning to generate relevant recommendations, and then experiment and learn iteratively to improve the entire experience” said Kieran. This type of connected proposition that will be key to success in the future.

“You’ve got three choices,” said James. “You’ve got build it, buy it or partner. The people listening to this are going to be of varying sizes and have different opportunities available to them. But if you look at your own infrastructure, your own capability, there are companies out there that can support you with all three of those approaches and get the ones right for you.”

So, partnerships will be vital. The insights from this episode podcast neatly tee up our third episode on how financial services firms can tap into new revenues streams in the data-centric economy of the future. Stay tuned!

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