This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.
What do customers expect when they interact with insurance companies today? “The short answer is consistent and personalised experiences across all the channels they interact with,” says Dennis Vanderlip, industry solutions director of Worldwide Insurance at Microsoft.
Indeed, this is a vision that many insurance companies are working towards today. But, if you consider the fact that they have to contend with overlapping, siloed IT systems, most of which have been created internally and do not interact with each other, then getting that single view of the customer is easier said than done.
According to Vanderlip, the solution involves taking a more comprehensive look at how customers interact with your organisation from the point of acquisition through to the processing of a claim. In many cases, this involves rethinking what IT you have in place, and looking at what you can do to break down the typical product-based systems and siloes.
Solutions like CRM for Insurance from Microsoft are designed to do just that. “We are bringing together disparate systems and siloes to present the customer view rather than the product view,” says Vanderlip.
The customer relationship management (CRM) solution serves as a customer engagement platform or hub, bringing together customer interactions across channels with data from core insurance systems, insight from analytics and machine learning, social channel interactions, marketing initiatives, and third-party external data sources to create an information file that provides a complete view of each client.
Microsoft partners including Accenture, Avanade, Hitachi Solutions and Realdolmen have then built insurance-specific solutions on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to provide the specific functionality required.
Hitachi Solutions, for example, has developed Hitachi CRM for Insurance. “A CRM system is more than a claims system, more than a sales system and more than just a customer service system,” says Tap Haley, the company’s industry vice president of Insurance and Health Plans. “It is an aggregator of all things customer-related and should be the one-stop-shop for anyone who is handling a customer enquiry from the point of sale through the processing of a claim.”
Meanwhile, the Travi@ta CRM for Insurance solution from Realdolmen offers a full view of end customers and intermediaries to help determine the next best action. “The solution gives a good total picture of the customer with clever functionality like the timeline to indicate what to do next to get the best out of each relationship,” says Olaf Hoppenbrouwers, product manager at Realdolmen.
In addition to customer-focused CRM workloads, the CRM solution also lends itself to helping manage a carrier’s agent distribution channel.
“Carriers with independent brokers and agents not only have to distribute centrally generated leads out to the agent network, manage the channel and identify best practices amongst them, but they are also trying to increase their loyalty to do business with them,” says Vanderlip.
By implementing a distributor relationship management solution based on Dynamics 365, carriers have access to functionality such as compliance, pipeline and sales management, agent and agency performance management (such as premiums by month, loss ratios and hit ratios), agent licensing and certification management. With all of this at their disposal, they can better manage their agent/broker distribution channel, monitor performance more closely and make it as easy and profitable for agents to do business with them.