If we have been reminded of anything during the COVID-19 crisis it is that no matter how well we plan or predict, something can come along and upend it all. The American boxer Joe Louis said it best: “Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit.” So what happens to all those predictions and trends that we made for 2020 in the insurance industry? Are they still relevant and do they make sense given our new reality, or do we throw them away and start from scratch? Let’s look at three key trends and analyze whether they should still be a focus in 2020.
Customer experience is key to success in the hyper competitive insurance industry where a competitor is one phone call away, and the trends in 2020 seemed to point to a renewed focus:
- • According to Insurance Trends 2020, the customer experience (including the user interface) was the top opportunity being prioritized by 70% of insurance industry CEO’s in 2020.
- • In Deloittes report on the Four Trends that Define Insurance in 2020, 57% of respondents believe that the most effective way to maintain customer loyalty is having access to friendly and knowledgeable staff for assistance.
I don’t know many people who would argue about this being the #1 priority for the insurance industry in 2020. Being able to speak with friendly and knowledgeable staff has never been a more important piece of the customer experience in the insurance industry than it is today. With most of us working remotely, and many customers experiencing fear and uncertainty, being able to connect and support customers as if we were meeting them in-person is crucial. It is why there has been a sudden rush to find and implement remote sharing tools that do just that.
Innovation in insurtech has been moving at lightning speed over the past few years, so it’s no surprise that many of the trends for the insurance industry in 2020 focused on technology:
- • The speed of technological change is a key concern for 39% of respondents according to PWC.
- • Digitizing distribution is one of the top trends for the insurance industry according to EY’s Global Insurance Outlook.
- • Core technology transformation was the second highest opportunity being prioritized by 51% of insurance industry CEO’s in 2020 according to PWC.
Technology transformations and the fear of not being able to keep up being predicted as key trends was definitely correct, but no one could have predicted the reasons why. Insurance companies are now pivoting from planned technology changes and roll-outs, and looking at how technology can help them in a world that has suddenly gone remote. Whether it is video conferencing, remote collaboration tools, or co-browsing, insurance companies are moving their technology transformation into hyperspeed to both connect with their customers and keep up with the competition. And while it may seem like a sprint, it’s really a marathon, as the technology we implement today will have long lasting implications.
People and insights
Building an exceptional customer experience and implementing great technology really doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right people and insights, which is why these trends were predicted to be important in 2020:
- • The top answer to PWC’s question of which areas has your company made the most progress in upskilling was in building employee engagement through open communication on skills of the future (29% of respondents).
- • According to EY, only 5% of insurers rate themselves as being effective in harvesting results from digitization.
Upskilling in this current environment will be the glue that holds everything together. Insurance companies will be asking all their team members to start doing many things differently, and to learn how to do it quickly. And almost all of these changes will be implemented through digital platforms, which means the ability to study, analyze, and create insights from employee and customer behavior is more important than ever. This is another reason why insurance companies who are rapidly integrating new technology need to take the time to understand how to measure effectiveness.
In the end these key trends predicted for the insurance industry for 2020 still hold true, just not in a way any of us imagined. Like every industry, the insurance industry will need to adapt to a new situation, but the focus is already in the right place: developing exceptional customer experiences, implementing technology to support the remote customer, and having the right people and insights to make it all happen. Who knows what the rest of 2020 will bring, but for now the focus of the insurance industry seems to be in the right place.