The current lockdown in South Africa is a major challenge for businesses to maintain operations. For insurers, much of this revolves around empowering employees with the capability to work remotely and continuing to provide customers with the required products and services. Annalie Terblanche, head of product at SilverBridge, looks at the importance of digitalisation in insurance in this regard and how to position organisations to remain fully operational.
“Most South Africans are feeling the impact of the lockdown even though the long-term repercussions will probably be felt for years to come. The next several weeks will be vital in the country’s ongoing attempts to ‘flatten the curve’ and battle the COVID-19 virus. During such uncertain times, insurers must be able to maintain operations with as little disruption as possible to provide customers with a sense of comfort that the business is stable. To this end, employees must be able to work remotely and maintain service levels that deliver on the ever-increasing customer expectations.”
Of course, by digitalising their processes, insurers can empower customers to access their policies, track claims, and exercise more self-service options. Moreover, all sales channels that include intermediaries and call centres can also benefit from such a process. Being able to work digitally, enables them to overcome the challenges of not being able to meet with clients face-to-face due to the lockdown.
Those insurers who have already begun the journey to modernise their core systems are in a better position to have employees working remotely and to digitalise business processes to such an extent that they can continue delivering their full value proposition during the lockdown. Regardless of the current crisis, the business remains in a position to deliver a consistent customer experience.
“A priority in a modernisation drive is for the insurer to focus on its core insurance system as this represents the heart of operations. Doing so will enable the business to scale according to its customer requirements and become more agile in embracing digital technologies to deliver value. As part of these digitalisation efforts, a cloud-based approach will empower the insurer to respond more efficiently to a changing business environment,” says Terblanche.
Not quite plug and play
However, this is not as easy as simply installing a piece of software and hoping it will automate many of the administrative-intensive functions at the insurer. Instead, many insurers must find a way to balance their need to digitalise business process and automate administrative functions whilst working with the challenges of the legacy solutions that they still have in place.
“By modernising insurance, the organisation will be in a position to embrace emerging technologies that deliver significant value to customers and be in a stronger position to scale according to customer requirements. This digital enablement of customers and all the related sales channels is a critically important step to help ensure the delivery of a positive customer experience.”
Take for example completing an insurance policy. The traditional paperwork required in this regard makes for a tedious process. But by digitalising the end-to-end onboarding process and offering brokers and call centre agents Web portals to digitally capture information and process the applications, the insurer can increase new business efficiencies and levels of accuracy.
“Furthermore, a digital approach to business creates the opportunity to inject business intelligence (BI) into the organisation. This provides decision-makers with a more efficient way to gain complete oversight of all critical elements associated to the insurer. BI, through its structured dashboards, provides a visual way to view data and generate insights. If the current crisis is showing businesses anything then it is the need to be proactive and make more informed decisions especially as we navigate through this new norm,” concludes Terblanche.