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Financial Services

4 Steps for Insurers To Accelerate Their Digital Transformation

Shouldn't it be fast and easy for customers to adjust their insurance coverage?

insurance digital transformation

Insurance companies are at a defining moment for the industry. The pandemic changed the way insurers can help customers in their time of need. Virtual is the new normal. Employees are remote, and customers either can’t or don’t want to go to an insurance office. Sales, service, claims, and more need to happen through digital channels. Customers need to be able to get what they need quickly and on demand. Virtual services are here to stay because it’s more nimble and cost effective. Insurers need to accelerate digital transformation to become customer-focused organizations. 

Insurance companies tend to be slow to adopt new technologies. If competitors show success with new tools, others quickly (or not so quickly) follow. With customer needs rapidly evolving due to the pandemic, slow is not an option for running virtually. The companies that continue to thrive will be those that understand waiting is the true risk. According to a study by Salesforce, Vlocity, Deloitte, and Newsweek, winning insurers will become more agile through digital transformation to serve changing customer needs “in spite of legacy IT systems, compensation practices, and aversion to change.”

Digital transformation involves more than creating digital services. It’s a culture and process change that affects the whole business. Understanding the importance and urgency of the new digital transformation imperative, Pacific Life, a Fortune 500 life insurance and retirement solutions company, has adopted digital technologies to enhance customer experiences and drive operational efficiencies. To encourage buy-in, the company ran internal campaigns for employees to embrace this new way of working.

Four steps to digital transformation

Customers want fast and easy ways to get or adjust the insurance coverage they need and to submit claims. But, getting there is not an easy task for insurance companies. These four steps will make the transformation more manageable.

1. Define simple

To create a simple customer experience, first define what “simple” means for the organization and its customers. These are the areas where simple applies:

  • Requiring fewer questions to get the answers or quote customers need.
  • Providing fewer product options for the least information entered by the customers.
  • Offering a buying process that’s like buying a book online.
  • Creating short and easy policy documents for customers to understand.

Once you’ve used these four criteria to develop your definition, the next three steps help you make it happen.

2. Build the right team

Transitioning to digital technology and virtual processes requires a multifunctional team to create a holistic plan and understand how it will impact the business and all departments. Getting the right people on the team will also help prevent disconnects among the silos. Below is a base of roles to include. Each company may need other roles included as well.

  • Business owner
  • Product expert
  • UX designer
  • Information architect

3. Evolve to straight-through processing

Upgrading to straight-through processing is intimidating, especially if there are legacy systems involved. Make it more manageable by prioritizing your needs and breaking them into phases. This also speeds up the initial launch timeline.

Decide what processes to automate by considering what doesn’t need human interactions. Then, determine what external and third-party sources you need to integrate. This includes systems that need to “talk” to move processes forward, as well as those for pulling information into one central location. Focus on the essential functions for an initial launch. Then, plan a time line for future phases with additional capabilities.

ABD Insurance and Financial Services needed its brokers to have a comprehensive, real-time view of their client risk portfolios. Working with Salesforce Industries, ABD rolled out its initial deployment in two months. Regular digital updates from Salesforce Industries continue to enhance its services and capabilities.

4. Mandate microservices

Microservices allow you to use web-based applications from different sources in different situations. Teams are able to share the asset among themselves, as well as build new assets. In short, it allows systems to “talk” to each other to get work done. This ability is essential as the infrastructure gets more complex.

The new normal is virtual access. It’s here now and customers will find the company that is there for them where they need them. Cloud-native solutions with prebuilt insurance-specific cloud processes offer the fastest path to digital transformation and to its value.


Learn more about going digital fast for insurance, banking, wealth management, and more at the Salesforce Industries Summit Financial Services Channel.


Ayan leads Salesforce's efforts to serve the $5 trillion insurance industry. His focus is on helping drive competitive advantage in Insurance through the digital, data, and ecosystem capabilities of the Salesforce platform. Ayan has 25 years of experience across major Insurance markets (P&C, life, group benefits, annuities, and retirement) and the end-to-end Insurance Value Chain (strategy, product, distribution, service, claims). Before Salesforce, Ayan was the business owner and lead product manager for InsurancePlatform, Guidewire’s industry platform for the Insurance industry. Previously, he was a leader in McKinsey’s financial services practice with distinctive knowledge in digital, data, and analytics.

More by Ayan

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