South African insurers are increasingly using so-called 4IR technology, like data analytics, to better assess risk, optimise leads and even process claims. But the real opportunity of Big Data today lies in using research and insights to smooth customer pain points and transform the customer experience, says short-term insurer King Price.
“The hottest trend in insurance right now is not who has the most innovative marketing or slickest app. It’s all about the customer experience: whoever keeps their clients the happiest, keeps their clients,” says Dr Eugene Wessels, partner of data analytics at King Price.
Modern insurance consumers want more than a fair price and quality service, says Dr Wessels – they take those for granted. Today, they’re looking for personalised experiences, trust and honesty, real-time interactions and responses, and a sense that their insurer empathises with their need for peace of mind.
For King Price, a big step towards happier customers has been to tackle the perennial industry bugbear (and ongoing source of client unhappiness) of long processing times for high-value claims. Quick settlements are one of the most important elements of customer engagement in the insurance industry: it’s literally the most rewarding experience a client can have, says Dr Wessels.
“We asked ourselves: why can the insurance industry process smaller claims, like geysers and windscreens, quickly? Why do we interrogate high-value claims more closely, even if these clients have been honest and loyal? So we stopped looking at the value of the claims, and focused instead on the risk. Now, we interrogate claims that have higher risk, as opposed to higher value,” he said. “This means that, for loyal clients, even high-value claims are generally approved and paid speedily, and without investigation.”
The project is so revolutionary that it saw King Price beating some of the country’s best-known consumer brands to scoop the Best Customer Experience Award by an Organisation or Team at Corinium’s inaugural Customer 360 Africa 2019 Awards in Sandton earlier this year.
To get to this point, the company’s data gurus developed a technology approach that uses advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence to build rock-solid fraud detection algorithms. The company’s AI-powered robot – known internally as ‘Geriatrix’ – provides better fraud detection than can be achieved through manual intervention, delivering a faster claims process for clients and freeing up the company’s staff to deliver better customer service.
However, warns Dr Wessels, technology alone will not change a company’s customer experience. “Technology, and data, only enable a customer experience. Delivering a superior experience requires a company culture and business model in which you focus less on products and operational efficiencies, and more on your clients and their experience with you.”
That’s not to say technology isn’t driving a sea-change in the customer experience, with data-driven technologies like AI, apps and chatbots creating a range of digital-first, human-friendly services that are tailored to the exact needs of the client. Many of these technologies already exist, and will only make the purchase, claims and service experiences easier than ever for clients while providing better risk management and cost optimisation for the insurance companies themselves.
“The further benefit for clients is that they’re rated on their own risk, and not as part of a pool of similar risks. This results in personalised premiums – and when an insurer saves money, all premiums can be optimised. That’s part of how we do super cheap,” says Dr Wessels.