A changing market
Managing Director at Generali Engagement Solutions GmbH Peter Stockhammer understands the importance of partnerships to help develop the best possible products and services for their customers. These partnerships link both ends of the product chain from technical expertise from outside of the insurance industry, to the feedback from the policy holder.
Generali Vitality is a wellness programme designed to encourage and reward the healthy behaviours of policyholders via the provision of tools and incentives to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Stockhammer has had a long career in the life insurance space, but says he has taken inspiration from all kinds of sectors to shape his attitude to industry transformation; what has chiefly guided him is considering what can be learnt from other industries.
He says: “I was once invited to Porsche and they showed me how they build cars. They showed me what they call the marriage of the chassis with the engine. I thought. ‘It’s fascinating how they’re doing this and what we can do in issuing the policy to give transparency to the customer, and can we improve things to be faster?’.”
It’s not just limited to learning from the technical expertise of other industries, but also in balancing that with the evolution for insurance provision, enabling it to become even more customer-centric and developing a deeper relationship with policyholders.
Stockhammer speaks of becoming a ‘lifetime partner’ with Generali’s customers, utilising their relationship with smartphones as the way to become part of their life and transition their insurance interactions from protection to prevention. A tipping point for him, personally, was seeing a survey where people were asked what they couldn’t live without; less than half listed their current partner, but 97% said this of their smartphone.
Generali Vitality is an exciting fusion: a historic player in the insurance space, they also develop trend-setting digital products to interact with their customer base.
As such, Generali Vitality offers a personalised approach to wellness by creating health goals and rewards based on a policyholder's current health status and lifestyle. Through the app, policyholders can earn points for engaging in healthy activities such as exercise, getting regular check-ups, and even shopping for healthy foods. The more someone engages with the program, the more points they collect, and the deeper the level of value to the rewards.
Stockhammer explains that their experience and research leads them to know how their policyholders like to use the app and the results they value the most, like the small, simple incentives.
“You have a weekly fitness activity or physical activity goal and, if you reach it, you will be immediately rewarded. There’s gamification, so there’s a wheel of fortune where you’re getting a push notification that says, ‘Congratulations, we have achieved the goal, here is a reward for you’. You can then spin the wheel and randomly get one of the awards.”
It’s this attitude to gamification and continued product improvement that excites Stockhammer, as it helps welcome an insurance provider with more than 190 years of industry experience to the cutting edge of digital transformation. It also heralds a new relationship with their customers. With such modern digital tools, customers have regular contact with their product, rather than just an initial interaction before embarking on a distant relationship that’s only rekindled when a problem arises
According to Stockhammer, some of the individual feedback received can enlighten the development teams. It has the capacity to reveal how customers interact with and value the apps ‒ as well as their rewards ‒ on a day-to-day basis.
“For example, we had feedback from a lady saying her daughter is always pushing and asking ‘have you already achieved your weekly goal?’, which is because she wants to spin the wheel. So these are the things, this little nudge; it's not that you're getting a big prize, but it's this regular thing where we say we’re noticing and rewarding you as you’re constantly doing something.”
A customer-focused approach
This kind of customer relationship has been made possible thanks to the transformative technical tools now available to insurers in conjunction with the power of data, which allows insurers to provide a more personalised service.
Stockhammer believes that progress is causing a fundamental change in the level of service an insurer can provide to their life customers, going from a passive observer to being part of them making positive life changes.
“It pushes us towards a customer-focused approach, this ongoing communication, as we’re getting immediate feedback from the customers. This is helpful for us because we’re really having the voice of the customer immediately there.”
Stockhammer believes it’s crucial for players in the in sector to take not only feedback from their customers, but to align that feedback with the expertise of their technical partners. One of the key technical relationships Generali have is with Garmin.
Garmin was founded in 1989 by Gary Burrell and Min Kao, initially focused on developing GPS devices for aviation and marine use. The company later expanded to include products for outdoor, fitness, and automotive markets. It made them one of the leading exponents of exploiting GPS technology in a consumer market place, and they have continued to develop cutting-edge technologies since, such as GPS-enabled smartwatches and cycling computers.
As Stockhammer explains, it’s crucial for deployment in the overall digital transformation of insurance to leverage this kind of expertise ‒ to the benefit of not just the consumer, but the insurance industry trying to develop smarter relationships with their clients.
He says: “It’s a regular exchange ‒ what can we do together next? What’s the development? How can Garmin help us? How can we help Garmin? What feedback are we getting from a customer? What’s good, what’s not good? What are they looking for? So it really is a partnership.”
Just as the feedback from policyholders can provide a different perspective, Stockhammer is adamant that being open to, and embracing, technical advances can keep Generali Engagement Solutions products at the forefront of the industry. He believes that the change in perspective through these partnerships can challenge the established ways of doing things, pushing boundaries that previously wouldn’t have been considered.
“My main principle is to get input from other industries. It is always good to get some input and some ideas from the outside. When you are permanently working on a single piece, you have a deep expertise, but bringing in some expertise from a different, outside point of view is always super helpful.”
Data is crucial to all insurance companies, because it allows them to assess risks accurately, set premiums, and make informed decisions. By using the data to analyse customer behaviour, claims history, and market trends, improvements to customer experience can be made while also increasing profits and reducing losses. Protecting customer data is, however, of vital importance for insurance companies in: maintaining trust with their customers; preventing data breaches and associated legal and financial liabilities; and complying with data protection regulations.
With the increased flow of information from a customer regularly interacting with products like Generali Vitality, Stockhammer is conscious of just how precious that data is. It not only helps the provider deliver a better customer experience and product, but it is the cornerstone of trust between the customer and the provider.
“I think that it is important and we are showing they are confident we are not misusing this data and always telling the customer you are in control in the programme there are several places where they can engage.”
He also states how vital it is that the industry makes sure the customer feels empowered in knowing how to make changes to the use of their data and ensuring there’s a transparent relationship with their insurer.
“For each single piece, you decide what you’d like to share and give your consent. You can revoke it at any time, and if you revoke it, the data sharing is immediately stopped. The important thing is to give the customer control over their data.”
With the flow of information, expertise, and feedback between technical partners, insurer, and customer, Stockhammer is mindful that it is only possible to continue to deliver the best product by challenging any potential boundaries. He believes that, if any company embracing this kind of customer-facing technology gets too comfortable with the speed of their progress, they’re at risk of losing their advantage.
“If you're thinking you have an advantage, bear in mind you don't know what others are preparing in the kitchen. Is there something that will overtake you? Immediately after the game is just before the next game, otherwise others will overtake you.”
With so many providers working to improve on the customer experience and expand the reach of this technology, Stockhammer says Generali uses the competition that inevitably arises between insurers as motivation to never rest on any progress made and instead use it to fuel their next industry-leading development. He believes that working closely with both their technical partners for expertise and their customers for insight, they can continue the evolution of insurance from just simple protection to enhanced prevention.
“We shouldn’t be so arrogant in saying we are the brains for working on such a proposition, because I have respect for others that are working on similar products. So it’s always the thing pushing us permanently to the next limit.”