Turning a big ship: Taking Insurance from Grudge Purchase to Pleasure

When Altron Karabina won Microsoft South Africa’s Industry Application Development Partner of the Year award for 2018, the accolade underpinned what the company was already hearing from its customers: its new Insurance Accelerator solution is a winner.

Mo Areff, Business Unit Lead – Customer Engagement at Altron Karabina, says the new solution was designed and built in South Africa over a period of around 18 months, harnessing Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the expertise of a team of subject matter experts. It overcomes a challenge insurance companies have been grappling with for years – gaining a single view of customers without a massive rip and replace effort. “We’ve added a layer that aggregates data from disparate systems, giving customers a system of record that allows them to innovate in terms of customer experience. The insurance sector has long wanted to improve customer experience, but this industry is a big ship and can be slow to turn.”

The innovation comes at a time when insurance companies face pressure from a number of areas. “When times are tough, one of the first things people cut is their insurance. Plus, the market has become more competitive,” says Areff. For customers, insurance remains a grudge purchase, and buying decisions are based on price and customer experience. “Our research shows that what insurance customers really want is simplicity, innovative services tailored to meet their needs, access via any channel, and to find the relevant information quickly and easily. They expect a high level of service at a low cost. However, many find that they get a fantastic onboarding experience, but when they need to claim, everything changes.”

Remain Competitive

Insurers today need to address four key areas to remain competitive, says Altron Karabina: they must innovate, give customers ownership of their products, support efficiency and effectiveness and they must become faster and more agile. Digital transformation is key to achieving all of these goals.

“Insurers need to embrace technology with new services and new ways of building relationships with consumers. This has to span the entire customer journey – from making buying policies simple and straightforward, to new digital products involving the Internet of Things, wearables and GPS sensors.  By using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to analyse digital interactions, insurers can provide a faster, more personalised service. By digitising processes and switching to lower cost channels such as the web and chat, insurers can become more efficient improve the overall experience and also gain unparalleled insight into customer needs and behaviour,” Areff says.

But local insurance firms are often challenged in delivering service excellence on claims, renewals and cross-selling. “Many have siloes of customer data, up to 18 different systems holding the same customer’s records, no single view of the customer and fragmented departmental ownership of customer data. In addition, many have not digitised all their processes for efficiency. These factors make it difficult to carry out smart data analysis or offer individualised products to customers,” he says.

Altron Karabina’s new solution, which can be implemented in as little as six weeks, allows insurance firms to improve customer experience across the entire insurance life cycle, getting consolidated data that also supports efficiencies to reduce operational costs. “Our solution helps insurers meet new consumer needs and ensure a good customer experience across the entire customer journey. We created a layer that can sit on top of legacy systems and created a system of record, bringing into one platform the relevant information from all underlying systems, with one view available to sales, marketing and customer service. We also support secure customer self-service across channels including mobile apps, social media and the call centre.  It’s unique, and part of our big value proposition is time to market – we just add a layer, giving companies aggregated data that allows them to become more efficient, innovate and improve customer experience,” Areff says.

The solution started rolling out at the end of 2017, and has been rolled out at six insurance and medical insurance companies to date. But amid keen market interest and with potential to address challenges across large insurance firms, brokers, medical insurance and medical schemes, the new solution is poised for strong growth.

“We are in talks with up to 15 companies in South Africa, as well as with organisations across Africa and abroad,” says Areff.

This article was originally published in the IT Web Brainstorm Supplement, Alpha – Meeting the Azure opportunity. The article was written by Tracy Burrows

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