Is ‘Omnichannel’ just a trending word in life insurance industry or does it have any real substance?
One shouldn’t confuse between omni and multi-channel concept. Some may argue that omnichannel and multi-channel are the same. As we all know, life insurers are following multi-channel ecosystem since decades. However, to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ omnichannel is different from multichannel, first it is important to understand what omnichannel is
What is Omnichannel?
There are different versions to the definition of ‘Omnichannel’ around the globe and most of them are true. What applies to life insurance industry is of our interest now.
Typically, omnichannel is an approach that enables life insurers to provide integrated seamless experience to their users across the value chain starting from engagement to claims. The user, both internal and external, could use different mediums such as Face to Face (branch), Contact Center and Digital (mobile, desktop, tablet) to derive value through smooth and seamless experiences.
How is Omnichannel different from Multi-channel?
An omnichannel user experience can be distinguished from a multi-channel user experience by the depth of the integration. Unlike omnichannel, multi-channel ecosystem restricts the user to their specific channel only - either face to face or digital or contact center. A visible demarcation divides these channels to integrate in a multi-channel ecosystem.
The multi-channel ecosystem couldn’t withstand the needs of insurers as many were interested in multichannel integration that ensured a smooth handshake between the channels. And that is precisely, the starting point of ‘Omnichannel’.
Omnichannel approach enables insurers to provide their users the ability to obtain the right information at any moment of time; to make more contextually sensible decisions across the value chain and the power of transacting through multiple mediums.
To explain illustratively, say, John visits an ‘ABC’ insurer website and makes an enquiry on term life. Soon after John enters his email address, phone number and zip code, a contact center executive calls John and arranges an appointment with an agent located in the same area. This appointment is pushed to the agent’s mobile. In the face to face engagement with John, advisor facilitates the ‘meet and greet’ process and eventually leads to new business. Advisor fills the application digitally and submits the application for underwriting. Alternatively, John could use any of the digital mediums to complete a questionnaire and completes his medical checkup in a nearby clinic. As you see, all along the engagement till the policy issuance, insurer adds value to John’s interaction in a seamless experience with different channels via different touch points. And, this continues in a variety of customer service activities during the life time of the policy. This unified experience enables the user to experience a brand throughout the cycle and not a channel within a brand.
What Makes Omnichannel Important for Life Insurers?
1. Omnichannel improves customer engagement to a large degree. Most of the time, well-designed/integrated channel interaction bridges the gap between customers & insurers and brings them closer, thereby, improving the customer retention rate.
2. Omnichannel experience is essential for both near term satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Omnichannel not only increases customer satisfaction, but also improves distribution relationships. Enabling advisors and brokers with smooth experience with the insurer across the value chain will certainly help in reducing time in the back-office processes. Achieving customer delight will make the customer loyal to the insurer, whereas, achieving advisor loyalty certainly helps insurer to build a strong distribution network. The need to offer enhanced service experience to intermediaries will increase as the ageing distribution workforce will retire and a younger, tech-savvy generation will replace them.
3. Implementing omnichannel ecosystem is not straightforward. It requires a strategy which includes well-coordinated effort from multiple stakeholders within the organization to achieve a cohesive, customer centric, multi-platform experience. Life insurers will also need to make investments in flexible tools for online, mobile and social media servicing. The infrastructure backing this omnichannel strategy consists of well-designed technology environments, highly scalable omnichannel services, advanced tools and an integrated & effective data management capability which makes integrated omnichannel experience, a reality.
Omnichannel, as we see is trending and it is a powerful concept to be taken into account by the life insurers. What are your views on omnichannel? Let us know them at firstname.lastname@example.org.