Putting Customers at the Center of Activities of the Finance and Insurance Sector

31 October 2019

Fintech Executive Workshop

On 24 October, the Netcomm Suisse Observatory organised its 7th Executive Workshop for 2019, focusing on how digital technologies support companies in the finance, insurance and payment industry to meet their customers’ needs and to build up ecosystems that increase customer loyalty. The afternoon session was attended by 16 Senior Managers and Executives representing Swiss-based and international companies, such as SIX Worldline, Western Union Business Solutions, PostFinance, Lendico, acredius, Banca Zarattini, Sympany, Nexi and AXA. The workshop was organised in partnership with Zurich Insurance, hosted by MLL and sponsored by Jakala and Magnolia.

Companies in the finance and insurance sector are facing the challenge of engaging with their customers. As millennials are increasingly getting into the labor market and are starting earning, they are becoming increasingly interesting for insurers and providers of financial services. However, if companies are not leveraging engagement with their younger clients, they might face the risk of higher churn rates. 

Millennials are increasingly connected - which on the other hand brings the opportunity of winning their loyalty through new digital experiences and connected devices. For example, research by Bain shows that Millennials are interacting 5x more during the first 12 months with their insurer if they can use connected devices. The application of digital technologies can transform financial institutions and insurers into the role of a trusted advisor supporting consumers in their saving and investment decisions and helping them to pursue a healthy and safe lifestyle.

The workshop was kicked off by our host MLL. Dr. Michael Reinle, Partner, and Dr. Reto Luthiger, Senior Associate, shared their knowledge on the regulatory backbone for fintech and insurtech. Since the beginning of this year, Switzerland has a regulation in place for the market entry of fintechs that only requires a banking licence ‘light’. The regulation aims for lowering the market entry barriers for fintechs. While banks are defined as businesses engaged in the interest difference business, fintechs are classified as having public deposits below CHF 100 Mio. and are neither investing them nor paying interest rates for them.

An important aspect of the finance and insurance industry is the treatment of personal data - especially for the development of machine learning and AI processes and solutions. AI algorithms are becoming more efficient the more data they can process. But it is key that the used data is anonymised before. Further, companies need the consent from the customer to process their data and they need to be informed about the processes. Finally, the process needs to be controlled by humans. For cross-border data transfers, there are no safeguard measures required if data is transferred to countries with adequate data protection laws. For countries without such measures, companies need to establish contractual safeguards or the consent of the person concerned.

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After being familiar with the legal framework of data processing, Alberto Danese, Head of Data Science at Nexi, shared some insights around AI and machine learning initiatives at Nexi. Nexi is present in the Italian market and is covering the whole payment ecosystem, composed of merchant services & solutions, cards & digital payments, and digital banking solutions.

Nexi is currently following a data analytics mission but keep the business running as usual. The change aims to use data in order for creating business value through delivering insights to customers, fulfilling regulatory requirements, predictive modelling on merchants and cardholders and making processes more efficient by digitizing repetitive, often operational, activities. The data and analytics strategy is built with 4 pillars: (1) data community, (2) data democratization, (3) data technology and (4) data science. Data community is ensuring that all parts of the organisation are ‘speaking the same language’ which is the base to make data actionable. A further important part here is the multidisciplinary teams where data scientists are working alongside with data engineers. Data democratization is concerning the inside and the outside world. For example, the data is used internally for improving the business intelligence and support the decision making process. Externally, Nexi is making the data available to its customers (merchants, banks and cardholders). On the data science side, Nexi is building up new capabilities regarding data analytics, machine learning models, and ready to use AI capabilities but is also focusing on flexibility through the use of cloud services. In data science, Nexi is working against criminal activities, such as frauds and money laundering, but also improving its customer centricity and the customer journey.

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As our third speaker, we had Andreas Assmann from Sympany Insurance sharing insights on how our sponsor Magnolia’s CMS helped them to bring the customer experience to a new level. For the insurance sector, having a strong digital experience in combination with a content strategy is giving a competitive advantage. This in combination with an omnichannel environment was driving the decision towards Magnolia’s platform.

The interface is marked by 4 main elements: premium calculator, chatbot, link to customer portal and content. Sympany was the first Swiss health insurer that offered the possibility of signing a contract online. Customers can use MobileID for their identification but the insurer is evaluating other possibilities as well and SwissID could be an interesting solution. The implemented chatbot adapts the questions depending on the page the visitor is currently on. The bot tries to find solutions without having an interaction with customer service. If the questions are too complex, the customer will be forwarded to customer service.

For the future, it will be important to have it all integrated on the same platform, including the customer portal that is on another platform. Sympany is striving for a consistent and easy-to-use interface to win the new generations. 

Chat with Sympi here.

As the last speaker of the day, we had Mattia Zanetti, Head of Digial Business at Zurich Insurance. Mattia was sharing his insights on marketing automation and agile marketing. For being customer-centric and offer them real value, Zurich is focusing on its internal capabilities and building up sustainable processes and knowhow within the team. In 2017, Zurich was partnering with many different agencies for different campaigns. The insurer was facing the issue that the agencies were owning the data and after the end of a campaign, the data was gone. Therefore, Zurich made the decision to centralize its marketing activities. For example, with a new SEA concept, Zurich could increase the average performance by 36%. The internalization process was not only cutting down costs but is also increasing the internal know-how. It helped to cut down costs per sales by almost half of it.

The next step will be the automation of content. Zurich is still facing a lot of open questions here, such as how to produce it, on what level to personalize it and how to gain efficiency in Switzerland, a small market split into 4 lingual regions. 

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In the closing session of the workshop, the attendees we discussing (1) what key elements are needed in an ecosystem to win customer loyalty and (2) what the key partnerships are.

The participants noted the importance of trust as a solid base for winning their customers’ loyalty. Next to it comes credibility as customers need to understand what they are offered. Further, companies need to understand where their customers are in terms of digital adoption and take this into account. They also need to understand and accept that each customer is different - and be inclusive. 

For the right partnerships, companies need to know their own position and strong fields. The analysis of the customer journey makes companies aware of the touchpoints and they know which of them cannot be covered through their own knowhow. For their weak points, companies need to find strong partners in order to deliver real value to their customers.

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