Zurich Insurance: where the customer comes first
Zurich Insurance Group has forged its reputation as one of the world’s leading and most trustworthy insurers over 140 years focused on caring for its customers and serving them. With roots in Switzerland, Zurich was originally founded as a marine insurer in 1872 before moving into a range of insurance fields to help its customers understand and protect themselves from risk. The appointment of Mario Greco as Group CEO in 2016 heralded a simpler, more customer-oriented approach to support global and local business.
Traditionally, the insurance industry has focused more on products than customer experience. Monika Schulze, Zurich’s Global Head of Customer Experience & Digital Strategy, believes technology is the key enabler to deliver the transformation that will continue to support the company’s customer goals. “Our focus on the customer journey and finding better ways to serve them is fascinating,” she says. “It means we have to change the culture of the company to work in a completely different way…”
Schulze notes that the influence of companies like Amazon and Google is changing the expectations of customers who demand instant answers and are now used to immediate service. “They are not willing to wait on an agent to put it in black and white and then waiting two weeks for an answer on a claim,” adds Schulze. “In a world where technology plays an increasingly integral role, customers are used to getting an answer with the click of a button. We have to look at regions like Asia who are more advanced in their adoption of mobile technology to see what we can learn to remain customer led.”
For Zurich, the digital transformation required is driven by customer experience. “You have to start with your customers’ feedback and analysing their journey,” confirms Schulze. “You need to define a must-win area, where you want to be better than the competition and then delight your customers so that they come back and buy more. Technology is an enabler to get to this position. The customer need, however, is the starting point for defining a superior position in the market.”
Schulze explains that the Net Promoter Score (NPS) program is one source that has provided that valuable feedback from customers which has pushed Zurich’s transformation. “It’s extremely important to demonstrate how customers’ feedback and actions derived from that have an impact on business results. For example, there is a correlation between higher NPS scores and retention rates,” she says, of an approach which has shown the executive team the potential of focussing more on customer satisfaction.
Schulze highlights the challenge for global businesses like Zurich to identify common pain points and find ways of working together with joint solutions to define efficiencies and become more effective at deploying technology across the business. “My starting point is always to find similarities and then respect the differences,” she adds. “We have a global platform, everybody's using the same vendor and methodology, so the question is: ‘How can we best work together to harness synergies for positive change?’”
Zurich deploys customer journey apps and technologies in order to help different countries map out those journeys and find new ways to serve the customer. “But you cannot rely solely on technology,” warns Schulze. “We do a lot of workshops because talking to customers and colleagues is essential; just to understand how they think, how they reacted, how you can improve. A lot of human interaction is needed on top of the technology platforms we are using.” The technology forms part of a suite of services Schulze refers to as “the app store for Zurich” offering, for example, chat bot functionality, journey mapping tools and claims apps. It’s all in one space where countries can download whatever they need and also adapt to their individual needs. Being able to fine tune them for their requirements is hugely important to cater against their needs.”
Schulze believes that customer feedback also needs to be harnessed for innovative ideas that build trust in the Zurich brand. “We need to ask ourselves how we can go beyond the traditional ways of serving our customers and invent new things. We have to be agile in our thinking to understand how to go further than the obvious. We need a highly creative innovation team to look at things from different perspectives.”
Allied to this, Schulze points out the company must be clear about its basic proposal and services. “Zurich won a UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) award (climbing the index from 188th to 12th place), which was in part down to our communication around pay out of claims. We revealed that 99% of our claims are paid out. This is something that is extremely important in order to build basic trust and counter the misconception that insurance companies rarely pay out. We looked at our numbers and realised how impressive that statistic was.”
Published by the Institute of Customer Service, the UKCSI rates customer satisfaction across 13 sectors, incorporating the views of 10,000 consumers on 247 brands. Zurich was also ranked first in the insurance sector for ethical business behaviours and connecting with consumers, and fifth and seventh respectively across all companies.
In order to drive renewed levels of customer satisfaction Zurich partners with Medallia, the market leader in Experience Management, rolling out an NPS expansion program across 25 countries. “Don't just buy a technology platform from a vendor, but use your partnership to further develop your program. You can learn from other companies and constantly improve and develop further,” says Schulze. Medallia’s customer experience management skills are leveraged for strategic advice, as it’s important to always have up to date technology.”
Looking forward, Schulze is keen to combine excellence in the basics of Zurich’s offering while innovating the next generation of services. “We will have to become stronger to impact the business digitally,” says Schulze. “We aim to become more advanced in data analytics. We have a lot of data, but much of it in silos. The trick will be to find the data you need and how best to correlate that. We want to help people find data on their own terms with easy to use dashboards to consolidate insights in order to drive business results.”