Last week, I discussed the conceptual barriers insurers face on their journey to customer-centricity. In this blog post, I’ll look at the organizational, technological and financial challenges insurers must surmount to execute a successful customer-centricity strategy.

Organizational barriers

From an organizational perspective, a customer-centricity journey implies a holistic transformation of the insurer. Insurers need to develop a long-term customer-centricity strategy, clearly define their objectives and priorities, and assess the likely impact on their current business and operating models.

From a situation which is often characterized by poor customer data, disconnected distribution platforms, detached product factories and poorly integrated systems and processes, a customer-centricity journey can take the insurer toward a much more integrated business model, open to contributions by third parties.

Technology

The customer-centricity journey goes deep into the technical and data architectures of an insurance organization. It may result in the replacement and integration of consolidated legacy systems with new technology layers, within and outside the enterprise, in order to ensure the richest possible view of the customer.

Ideally, the customer view should be updated in real time with internal and external data such as the purchase of a new product, a complaint, or a comment on the insurer or one of its products posted on a social network. This view should be immediately spread across the physical and digital distribution channels which form part of the multi-modal interaction management system for the specific customer or micro-segment.

For incumbent insurers, the challenge is to develop the “new-generation sales layer”, and to build the “digital layer” while ensuring its integration with the old “legacy layer” – while minimizing costs–as the figure below illustrates:

View the image.
View the image.

Insurers will need to work toward customer-centricity, proficiency level by proficiency level, addressing the different technology layers. If their execution plans are driven by business requirements – as they should be – there will likely be parallel interventions on all three technology layers.

Investments

Becoming a customer-centric insurer requires significant investments in people, organizational set-ups, and technology. Given the financial constraint most insurers face, these investments need to be managed effectively.

In the ideal scenario, a well-conceived and executed customer-centricity journey should aim to be funded by an increase in revenue from existing and prospective customers, and by transformation of the operating model, enabling new and better operations at a lower cost.

This requires a careful design of the execution plan, giving priority to interventions which have a higher profitability impact. The sooner the insurer starts, the more likely it is to smoothly pace its investments and to benefit from the strategy.

Next week, I’ll start looking closer at a viable approach for the journey to customer-centricity.

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