As the digital revolution continues to move forward, it brings about exciting opportunities for commercial P&C insurers. Facing disruptive change on many fronts, smart carriers are accelerating their technology adoption. Many are either developing their own innovative technologies or they are partnering with insuretch companies to deploy state-of-the-art solutions aimed at improving their ability to increase operational efficiencies, cope with nontraditional competitors and explore new business models, among many other things.
Based on my experience in the insurance industry, one of the best ways to ensure that these initiatives meet their intended goals is through a strong customer focus. A customer-centric mentality helps produce solutions that are well suited to carriers’ needs and add value for the carrier. By offering products that create efficiencies, internal tech or external customer facing teams avoid having to spend efforts on driving adoption for products that may not be the right fit for the user. This inevitably frees up time for the carriers to address other objectives.
Putting the customers’ needs first helps ensure the product has a positive impact. My favorite example of what not to do is Juicero. This startup launched a $699 connected juicer in 2016 with a lot of market buzz and venture capital funding. They marketed it along with prepackaged bags of fruit and veggies that could be converted into juice. But the company ended up being ridiculed after people figured out they could make juice faster—and a whole lot cheaper—just by squeezing the bags with their hands. Even after dropping the price, Juicero folded in 2017 and became the poster child for what can happen when product development lacks a clear understanding of the customer’s needs, desires and constraints.
How do smart carriers go about creating customer-focused solutions? The successful ones I’ve seen are committed to knowing the intended user and deploying well-thought-out solutions that generate a healthy return on investment. From the VP of Innovation to the newest tech recruit, everyone keeps the customer front and center in the planning and decision-making process. Tech teams learn about users’ current workflow and areas needing improvement, and work collaboratively to address pain points while also streamlining the workflow. They collaborate closely with customers and users as they develop design specifications, and often circle back with them throughout development, training and deployment. After a successful implementation, mechanisms are put in place to facilitate communication of feedback, enhancement requests and product support issues.
This approach doesn’t just provide better solutions for customers, it also saves time and resources for developers who can use their time effectively creating solutions based on what they know the customer needs.
In short, what distinguishes a successful technology initiative is the ability to design a solution with the customer in focus. It is the essential component necessary to developing solutions that will be embraced and engaged with, thus keeping carriers competitive and thriving during times of uncertainty and change.