The insurance industry, already widely affected by digital transformation, is set to change again as highly pervasive technologies become more and more capable of affecting the consumer experience in the years ahead. While every new technology trend is influenced by (and in turn, influences) the corporate culture, the driving factor behind insurance process improvement is first and foremost cultural: it is the ability to deliver a customer experience that meets the standards of modern users throughout their “journey,” right from the onboarding stage.

Today, digital onboarding in the insurance industry is one of the two crucial moments on which the success of transactions between insurance companies and consumers depend. This is the stage where the insured forms a perception of the company, making it essential to manage in the best possible way.

What is digital onboarding?

Digital onboarding is the digital process of acquiring a new customer. It can take place using the company’s digital touch points or through any of the user’s devices, including mobile.

The term “onboarding” originated in the field of human resources and is used to identify procedures for acquiring new employees. It has since expanded to identify the process by which a new customer acquires all the knowledge necessary to become an integral part of an organization.

Whereas onboarding prior to digitization was typically done on-site and in person (in the physical branch of a bank, insurance agency, or mobile operator’s store) for the past few years, customer onboarding procedures have been taking place digitally and, often, completely remotely. In many areas of business—and in the insurance industry in particular—this shift to digital onboarding took on a sense of urgency with the coronavirus outbreak, when it had become imperative to acquire the tools to remotely “onboard” new customers to avoid operational disruption. Today, digital onboarding is permanently integrated into business operations in many industries.

What is digital onboarding in the insurance industry?

Thanks to digital, insurers can leverage every opportunity with policyholders to increase their engagement. Before the advent of the internet, the entire onboarding process was done manually, in person, and over a period of time that could span several days. To exclusively use these traditional means of onboarding is to risk losing time and customers.

Digital onboarding in insurance is the process of gathering and verifying the information necessary to provide coverage, issue a policy, and ensure that customers understand the proposals that have been created specifically for them.

Customer onboarding is different from sales or marketing activities like lead generation or product promotion. Insurance digital onboarding focuses on the post-sale phase and is designed to nurture a relationship that gains value over time. During this fully or largely digitized process, the customer is empowered to independently select a product and immediately proceed to purchase or underwrite, even without a face-to-face interaction.

On the insurance company side, digital onboarding makes it possible to greatly speed up a number of operations: from gathering and verifying policyholder profiles to presenting pricing information and producing documents and reports. We have summarized some of the many benefits below.

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What are the benefits of digital boarding in insurance?

In general, digital onboarding provides three major benefits to companies: it reduces the operational costs of the process; it provides support for customer care; it enables more accurate information gathering; and it eliminates friction. Let’s analyze them one by one.

  1. Reduced operational costs

Manual or traditional onboarding is increasingly being replaced by automated platforms that reduce costs and provide better onboarding experiences for all involved. By introducing a consistent automated process that simplifies and systematizes the most redundant onboarding operations, many critical issues can be resolved:

  • Increased operational efficiency. Enables better visibility and control over internal processes and establishes a centralized workflow.  
  • Improved the cost-to-revenue ratio. Significant cost reductions are the result of eliminating redundant activities: employees can spend time on more productive activities and complex tasks, such as process administration, rather than dealing with manual documents.
  • Protection against the risk of fraud and injury to the corporate image. Digital tools enable companies to verify the clients they choose to engage. Comprehensive due diligence, compliance, and credit checks are an essential part of the digital onboarding process, which are essential to avoid financial loss or reputational damage.
  • Compliance with privacy regulations and ensures data security.
  • Eliminated (or significantly reduced) human error. Manual onboarding leaves room for oversights such as omitting attachments and sending incomplete data that can lengthen the process time, causing dissatisfaction and, in the worst case,  resulting in customer abandonment.

As we have seen, removing obstacles early in the customer’s journey results in a substantial reduction in operating costs.

  1. Support digital customer care processes

The need for some policyholders may be pure savings; others may be looking primarily for a convenient underwriting; still others need a reliable claims service. Some are looking for comprehensive coverage; others, simply want an advisory service to protect one of their properties. Insurance products and services must be able to address all of these needs and reflect the changing behaviors of consumers.

It’s up to the insurer to demonstrate that it knows and cares about each new user. If conversion is the first step, adopting a relevant, timely, and omnichannel communication system is the next step, which is critical for encouraging a deeper relationship with the customer. To create a personalized experience that leads to further opportunities companies have to learn how to use a mix of touch points and channels (email, phone, online, and offline) to return a consistent and engaging customer experience to the “right” policyholders, at exactly the right time.

Insurers must have the data, technology, and tools to provide timely solutions, particularly in the onboarding phase. A digital approach not only provides personalized products and services, but also paves the way for customer retention.

  1. More accurate information gathering and elimination of friction

Through digital onboarding, which is a data-driven insurance process, you can collect all the information necessary to provide appropriate coverage (contact information, dates of birth, policy start dates, and so on).

The next step is to employ the data collected to communicate the policy and its complexities to the customer. If the content conveyed is clear, complete, and, perhaps, interesting, this increases the likelihood of customers accepting the policy, and the risk of policy misuse also decreases.

The data collected and analyzed provides insurers with detailed reports and insights into customer behavior that can be used to create personalized offers that can be distributed through the right channel at the most appropriate time. This is the mechanism that underpins usage-based insurance, an innovative approach to insurance services that aims to improve communication with customers from the onboarding stages.

Inaccurate or missing information can lead to misunderstandings, which in turn often end up negatively impacting customer satisfaction levels. An investment in building accurate knowledge can help reduce the likelihood of communication problems and misunderstandings later in the process. CRM solutions provide decisive support in this regard.

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Integration with CRM: how to enhance digital onboarding in the insurance industry

To move to a digital workflow, automation of the onboarding process is essential to simplify and speed up all workflows. By automating repetitive tasks that take valuable time away from the daily routine, the digital onboarding process activates specific CRM actions that can free up staff, allowing them to focus on high value activities but without neglecting normal service interactions.

In the onboarding phase, digital tools allow profile data to be automatically uploaded to internal platforms, CRM first and foremost. From there, the data, through predictive analytics, is used to form the knowledge base from which insights can be extracted for building experiences that are increasingly centered on the specific needs of policyholders (both potential and acquired).

Then, in the digital onboarding phase, solutions that offer complete coverage of digital processes of a fiscal and documentary nature and that allow seamless integration with the tools and procedures already in use (including the essential functionality of electronic signatures) are crucial.

Cultivating the relationship with policyholders: all the benefits of CRM

Having a CRM solution that is tailored to the specific needs of the insurance industry is a key step in taking full advantage of digital onboarding. A CRM that is integrated with other platforms makes it possible to keep up-to-date customer profiles and track interactions that take place on all of the insurance company’s channels. It’s a decidedly effective tool for managing information on different accounts, for monitoring the results achieved by marketing and sales initiatives, for streamlining the operations of different departments (HR and customer care among all), and for promoting efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing profits. 

  • One of the most beneficial features of an insurance CRM is the management of customers throughout the pipeline from the first contact, through identification, scoring, and sales conversion operations.
  • Interaction monitoring is highly supportive of customer service: it enables incremental learning, interaction by interaction. The knowledge gained is then made available to teams across different departments, facilitating collaboration when multiple agents are dealing with the same account.
  • CRM proves incredibly useful when integrated into the onboarding process because it enables more accurate customer segmentation: it allows contacts to be organized and grouped based on different categories of data. From demographic information to purchase history, the onboarding process can develop from a stronger knowledge base because it is verified.
  • The ability to upload, store, share documents, and create standardized quotes and proposal templates facilitates access to information and improves collaboration in all onboarding steps.
  • You can use CRM to automate billing for customers and suppliers, track payments and expenses, have a better understanding of cash flow, and make projections of future sales and revenue based on past and current data and trends.
  • Not to be overlooked in the onboarding phase are the CRM features for social media monitoring, which can save time in managing accounts and designing and implementing social media marketing strategies.

In general, all the CRM features we have mentioned share a distinctive feature: they serve to nurture the relationship with policyholders and in this sense, they play a crucial role in making the digital boarding process in the insurance industry increasingly compelling.

Why digital onboarding in the insurance industry is a priority

During the onboarding process, companies have the opportunity to make a good and lasting first impression, which is why the entire process needs to be as smooth and easy as possible. Customer service in this regard is crucial: users who report a positive review of the early stages of their experience with a new insurance company tend to renew. On the other hand, if the onboarding process is confusing or frustrating, customers may be annoyed and prematurely end a relationship that they perceive as disappointing.

For digital onboarding in insurance to succeed in building lasting relationships with customers, it needs to be a priority. This is the only way it can contribute to tailored and relevant customer experiences, and to make the day-to-day work of marketing and communications, human resources, and customer care departments more efficient and result in consistent increases in productivity.