Back to the Future: 2021’s Group Insurance CX Lessons


I freely admit that I am an avowed science fiction fan. From Star Trek to War of the Worlds, any book or movie that includes time travel, scientific advances, and life in faraway galaxies has always held my attention. That said, this blog, which looks back on 2021’s future-focused insurance customer experience (CX) lessons, reflects and indulges both my inner insurance analyst and sci-fi enthusiast.

Many of the CX lessons of the past year were in direct response to the ongoing pandemic. Group insurers continued to implement virtual communications and operations, to meet – and surpass – clients’ heightened CX expectations. Insurers also increased their efforts to further redesign their systems and processes, to build more sophisticated and intelligent workflows that incorporated AI and machine learning, straight-through processing, and automation for omnichannel and more personalized engagement throughout the customer journey. In 2021, the future was now, and group insurers began the digital transformations necessary to deliver an enhanced customer journey.

The Covid Catalyst

One silver lining of the pandemic is that it made the group insurance industry embrace change faster, as evidenced through major shifts in technology deployment, omnichannel approach, and increased emphasis on data collection for personalized customer journeys. The pandemic also continued to reshape consumer expectations, making virtual (digital) interactions a necessity in most every facet of life. That said, the major lesson of the pandemic was for insurers to refocus their efforts and resources to alter their customer service models, but other lessons in how to carry out the underlying strategies also became apparent.

Change Starting at the Top

Many insurers continued to dedicate executive-level resources to head up organizational CX efforts, by appointing a Chief CX or Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Today, 90% of large group insurers now have a C-suite position to lead large-scale CX initiatives.1

Enhanced Systems for Enhanced CX

An enhanced customer journey experience requires the support of a sophisticated, next-generation technology foundation. Insurers continued to redesign their core systems with smarter workflows that have begun to incorporate AI and machine learning, API-first orientations, and straight-through processing for increased speed, accuracy, and efficiency.

The Omnichannel Approach

With customers’ greater expectations of seamless and intuitive interactions through all channels, insurers recognized the importance of the omnichannel approach: focusing on the customer through a unified, seamless, and continuous experience. They have continued to integrate their platforms to enable seamless conversations across multiple channels, ideally with as little human contact as possible for customers to quickly obtain the most suitable product, advice, or answer. Insurers have also recognized that as clients realize the full potential of technology in their everyday lives, their omnichannel expectations will concurrently increase.

Right Data, Right Time

Improved CX through technology requires accurate, real-time data, to inform segmented customer personas and support personalization initiatives. With access to the right data, insurers can create more customized insurance packages and experiences. Another benefit of this personalization is the increased trust and likelihood that customers will share more data in the future.2 Insurers now recognize that preexisting data can be mined and enriched through open data platforms and customer-centric analytics, to generate insights, analyze behaviors, and understand buyer’s values, patterns, and triggers.3

Final Thoughts

Most of us can agree that during 2021, there were times when much of the world seemed to be on pause. For insurers, the pandemic brought about much needed technology advances at a speed greater than anyone could have anticipated (Star Trek’s Scotty might even say “warp speed”). A next-generation technology foundation combined with omnichannel, data and analytics, and personalization can deliver the future-focused CX needed now and in the future. This year will see more of the same and for those insurers who delayed or struggled to make these important changes, the future is now!

1 “Four ways insurance companies are improving their customer experience,” IBM Smarter Business Review, May 18, 2021.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.

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