During the lockdown and the standstill of public life, representatives from insurance companies were confronted with the same problem as retailers and other service providers: how can customers be reached if direct face-to-face communication is not possible? Video consultation appears to be an acceptable method. Here to stay?
All companies in Germany were unprepared for the forbidden contact and shutting down of public life. Stationary retailers that are used to having customers come to their store were confronted with problems due to nation-wide closings. This also applied to independent financial brokers and field workers from insurance companies: how can customers still receive consultation if personal contact is no longer possible?
Boom in video solutions
The restrictions to public life caused by the pandemic in March and April led to a demand for video conference and video telephone applications never seen before. The most well-known example is the video software Zoom, which experienced a true flight. Competitors such as Google and Microsoft were forced to unlock their business offers at least temporarily for private users and to lower prices.
From fearless master craftsmen such as the tile distributor Leibfried to the internationally known bag producer Freitag, companies worked over night to create solutions to reach customers by video. The same goes for insurance companies, broker pools and independent representatives who had to deal with this topic. They were better prepared for the crisis.
The Aruna, Fonds Finanz or SDV pools offered their business partners the option to use video communication solutions on the market free of charge offering immediate help. Not all market participants had such luck.
Corona accelerates further digitalization
The contact restrictions and store closings have in the meantime been removed. Does this mean we can relax on the digital front? Not at all! Because a return to the normalcy known before the pandemic broke out appears to initially not be possible. Not enough is known about the virus and the further progress of the infection, not to mention there is no vaccine yet (assuming an effective one will ever be produced). The society and economy will have to learn to position itself in a "new normal". This also applies to the insurance industry.
There is legitimate doubt that the wave of digitalization that has come into being equally among companies and consumers during the lockdown will fade away. The former CEO of MediaMarktSaturn declared in a blog post that even "grandmas went shopping online for the first time" during the lockdown. Customer behavior and customer expectations have changed again due to corona. Developments in China, for example, suggest this. The big department store chain InTime improvised individual video consultation during the lockdown. The stores have long since been opened back up, but the demand for video sessions is still so high that the company decided to continue to use this channel of communication.
Video consultation is apparently here to stay. Swiss Life Select has already been using such a service over the past year. According to internal analyses, the usage of this service increased six-fold during the initial corona restrictions in March and April. Stefan Butzlaff, managing director of Swiss Life Deutschland Vertriebsservice, even stated that this instrument has become a "must have" for consultation.
The crisis may never stop: that is why it appears to be advisable for insurance companies who previously neglected video to deal more intensively with video consultation. This can also be linked with automated systems such as chatbots. The chatbot informs the customer around the clock if there are routine inquiries and also sets up appointment requests for a video conversation with a consultant.
We would be happy to offer consultation about all the chances seen in digitalization for the insurance industry. Simply contact us.