Canadian Underwriter

InsurTech North speaker: What may work for desktop may not work for mobile

April 23, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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When it comes to shopping for insurance online, the consumer experience will vary across platforms, something that isn’t always discussed when the industry talks about digitizing its customer experience.

The matter came up recently during ‘Key Touchpoints in the Customer Journey,’ a panel discussion held Friday at InsurTech North, a conference produced by MSA Research.

“People will react differently depending on the type of device they use,” said Marcus Lepkowski, assistant vice president of digital solutions at Sonnet, the direct writer owned by Economical insurance.

Lepkowski described what Sonnet officials found when testing their direct-to-consumer website.

“You actually can get different results for the same changes, desktop versus mobile. What may work for desktop may not work for mobile and vice versa. It is good to evaluate how changes are being reflected by your customers in those different areas,” Lepkowski said during the panel.

The thinking at Sonnet is similar to the mindset at Montreal-based Breathe Life, which provides online customer interaction software for life insurers.

“The way that we designed our solution was for mobile-first,” Breathe Life chief client officer Patrick Viau said Friday.

“We made sure that everything was available from a mobile perspective. We handle the questions and data volume and security from that perspective. And with that, [the mobile solution] adapts to whatever other devices are actually provided. We make sure that everything can be done from all of the different devices.”

Another important part of the digital equation is how to incorporate human intervention when it is is required.

Panellist Cong-Rong Xie is the vice president of technology for individual customer and advisor network at Canada Life. Xie suggested that when consumers are interested in complex products, such as wealth management or insurance, they do a lot of research online. But at some point, they will need to consult with a human.

Viao agreed. “It is clear to me that we need to have a seamless way to interact with clients. What will never change, in my opinion, is the human interaction. People need to talk to someone. They need help. Even if they can get the answers online, they need to speak physically, on the phone, to someone. I think the industry needed this 100 years ago and it still will be needed decades from now.”

Moderator Alice Keung, until recently chief transformation officer at Economical Insurance, asked the panellists whether people will “long for physical interaction” after the pandemic is over.

It’s critical to enable both online interaction and the ability to speak with a human, said Viau.

“We are in 2021. People expect information when they can’t sleep at 5:00 a.m. They make their espresso and they are like, ‘I want information.’ That has to be there as well,” said Viau. “What is truly important – people use the buzz word omnichannel – we are talking about hybrid distribution. For us, it is not one or the other. It is a combination of all of these scenarios.”

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