The traditional design thinking behind insurance creates a significant disconnect between insurers’ value proposition and today’s customers.
Few insurers have the management mindset, functional firepower, or digital talent to develop propositions that meet the expectations of the next generation insurance customer. They also have difficulty adjusting to their fast-paced changes. These gaps frustrate consumers—and open the door to agile innovators.
They expect highly interactive digital experiences, complete price transparency as well as fast and even instant delivery. When seeking information, they rely less on friends and family, looking instead to social communities and online reviews. Thanks to the “equalizing” effect of smartphones, the members of Generation X are adopting many of these behaviors rapidly.
After 25 years in the IT industry, we decided to alter our direction. Now, we share our experience and research to help the insurance community move in a new direction.
Insurers have historically been slow to change since their business is built on stability and risk aversion. Product development cycles often stretch to a year, and most IT upgrades follow a sequential “waterfall” approach. Accountability is diluted, which leads to management by committee and slows delivery. As a consequence, speed of decision making and agility suffer.
The industry has not stood still in the face of these challenges, of course. Many incumbents have launched efforts to transform themselves. Most have experimented with digital initiatives, agile work modes, customer immersion, and so on. Some have set up incubators or accelerators to explore new, customer-centric solutions outside their core operations. Only a few are making the more painful change of transforming their IT platforms to enable digital delivery. And hardly any have truly transformed their basic value propositions or created genuinely customer-centric cultures. Initiatives in this direction often remain cosmetic or produce artifacts that never see the light of day.
One powerful approach is to apply the principles of customer-centric “design thinking,” which can deliver a compelling end product and be disruptive enough to transform a company’s culture along the way. The methodology is based on the insight that optimizing individual touch points is insufficient to deliver a truly satisfactory overall journey—what is required is an end-to-end redesign. It is also informed by the understanding that consumers today do not separate products or services from the experience of buying and owning them. As a result, the entire “package” needs to be carefully designed.
Our business team and partners, all who come from insurance, have dedicated our careers to helping transform the insurance industry. We have learned over the years that business transformation is NOT only about technology.
A few common misconceptions need correcting up front. Design thinking is not just about creating pretty interfaces or replacing paper with digital records. What it really means is applying creative, nonlinear approaches to reinvent how customers interact with the business. It touches on all functions, from product development through underwriting to IT. The essence of this new perspective is to view the customer experience as a source of competitive advantage and taking action—and making investments—accordingly.
Applying design thinking to the customer journey in insurance requires a fundamental shift along four dimensions:
We are a results based consulting firm focused on individual client customer challenges. Today industry survivors are faced with evolving needs and expectations of consumers. Early systems that served them well now constrain their ability to launch new products and services. Aggressive technology solution and service vendors claim to have the answer to every industry problem but often lack a detailed understanding of the underlying business problem.