If you had attended any marketing event in the late 90s or early 2000s, you may recall something called ‘mass customisation’. It was a dream. Marketers looked at the surging middle-class world over and imagined selling customised products to individuals. While the internet grew rapidly, the availability of bandwidth to individuals did not match up to help marketers realise that dream. A dot-com bubble bust meant everyone had to wait. Cut to 2018. India has over 30 crore smartphone users. They not only have internet access but also leave a digital footprint like never before. A biometric identification process using Aadhaar means there is little to doubt identity. One can already feel the undercurrent of a revolution that is being ushered in by new technologies—artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technology, electric cars and mobile apps—that put practically everything at self-service. It means a whole new world for insurance marketers.
New service standards
The banking, financial services and insurance segment ise already in the thick of a revolution. As a customer, you may have already noticed companies reaching out to you as soon as you log on to an insurance company website or search for something related on the browser. Most companies are gearing up for mapping the customer’s digital footprint and use predictive intelligence to design response to services.
‘Chatbots’ are already making their presence felt. Artificial intelligence plays a key role here. As insurance marketers, we wanted a simple solution to customer service. Bots installed on mobile messengers can instantly cut unnecessary communication threads. Simple queries can instantly be tackled and reduce the burden on customer services. From a customer’s standpoint, this is convenient. As a policyholder, you got to simply ‘ping’ in your query.
A whole new data-driven world
IoT ends up connecting devices at homes or factories or cars. Real-time data received can help insurance companies produce quality products as they bring them closer to customers. The wearable devices or personal technology that captures information like steps taken, heartbeat and other personal information is already revolutionising healthcare and insurance associated with that.
Imagine a scenario where you pay an insurance premium amount in line with your car usage. Your premium may go down further if you keep your car in a secured parking area.
Driverless cars could usher in a whole new world. It could redefine how car insurance is designed or structured. Similarly, if you keep track of your diet on an app or the time you spend working out or doing any physical activity, it may be in your interest to share it with your insurer. You could pay a very low medical insurance premium.
The intimacy achieved by technology is set to redefine a lot of things in the insurance business. Firstly, an increasingly connected world helps in risk mitigation. This, in turn, can help insurance companies to make a realistic assessment when offering an insurance product. ‘Not aware of the customer need’ will no longer be an excuse.
Secondly, a lot can be predicted about the individual or the business or property that is likely to be insured using data. This has rather serious ramifications for the claims settlement process. A successful insurance company has to get this right at all times.
The new data-driven world is all set to help make the claim settlement processes effective. This is great news for a customer.
2018 and beyond
Anything new in technology is predicted to cause disruption these days. This is good for the insurance business. It is even better for customers. Insurance companies can take their relationship with customers to an unprecedented level of closeness.
The real-time data gathering achieved through this will help insurers design better products. The year 2018 is most likely to see usage-based insurance achieve traction. The prediction is that as technology gets more and more personal, insurance too would ride on it.
‘Mass customisation’ is all set to become a reality sooner than later in the insurance business.
The writer is MD & CEO, Universal Sompo General Insurance Co. Ltd