Digital Insurance Agenda

How to turn agents into ‘phygital’ advisory powerhouses

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Nov 29, 2022

Innovation and digital transformation are key pillars in Generali’s 2021 – 2024 Lifetime Partner strategy. Europe’s third largest insurer, Generali set aside no less than €1 billion for strategic initiatives to make this happen. We sat down with Isabelle Conner, member of the Group Management Committee and Group Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at GeneraIi. Isabelle is responsible for everything related to customer and distribution experiences, digital transformation and the Generali brand globally.

To what extent are agents still relevant today?

At Generali, we are committed to becoming Lifetime Partners to our 47 million customers. We rely greatly on our 172,000 agents globally to deliver this promise locally in each of their communities. 50% of our agents are in Europe and the other 50% in Asia. Together they produce 63% of our GWP, approximately €41 billion annually, so it’s sizeable! Last year – 2021 – was our most profitable year in Generali’s 190-year history!

In your view, what are the key customer needs right now?

Each quarter we speak to 100,000 customers across 24 countries. This research is critically important as it informs our customer strategy globally.

Post-Covid, three customer needs stand out:

First, 73% tell us they want Effortless and Caring Experiences. In a world where time is money, speed, ease, and clarity are essential. Insurers need to consistently minimize customer effort whatever the channel or touchpoint.

Second, Personalization. ‘One size fits all’ is a thing of the past. Today, 66% of customers tell us they want prevention, protection, and assistance solutions tailored to their needs. This makes sense considering brands across all categories are personalizing experiences, products, and price.

Third, ‘Phygital’ Advice. 81% of customers want a trusted advisor they can easily liaise with online or in person. This means advisors need to deeply understand their customers’ needs. Our industry is excellent at convincing you to buy, but there’s often silence post-purchase. We see this as the opportunity to deepen relationships with clients by contacting them with relevant and memorable information, advice, tips, etc. Staying in touch through thought leadership is even more critical in this inflationary environment.

How does Generali respond to these needs?

The 3 needs outlined above form Generali’s Lifetime Partner Strategy. We have taken each need and turned it into a Customer Promise:

  1. Being consistently Effortless & Caring across all touchpoints and channels,
  2. Personalizing Products & Services, and
  3. Providing real-time advice on the customer’s channel of choice.

We steer Generali’s entire Customer Transformation around these 3 promises. Each country has articulated an action plan which we steer and monitor via local quarterly CEO/leadership meetings.

What exactly is a “phygital” advisor?

A phygital advisor is an agent who seamlessly navigates between the physical branch and all available digital and social channels to conduct business and deepen relationships with existing clients.

Can you give an example of a phygital advisor?

We have many to choose from, but let’s take Francesco. He’s 35 years old and works in the beautiful Italian city of Brescia. He has been with Generali for eight years. Francesco leverages all the digital & social platforms. He has 10K followers and collects 50 prospects per month. Francesco shares 100% of the customer data with Generali because he understands that customer relationship management is a shared commitment. He realizes that if he’s going to succeed as a Lifetime Partner Advisor, he needs help from Generali to manage the mundane administrative tasks so he’s free to advise, retain and grow his portfolio.”

Francesco really benefits from the scale of Generali. Can you give some concrete examples of how you support phygital advisors such as Francesco?

We help agents through smart automation, trying to remove some of those mundane tasks, automating certain processes at the point of sale, at the policy issuance, at the renewal through the apps. 37% of our clients today are using our mobile app. Agents recommend this app as it allows their clients to self-serve on their own time and saves them precious time! We also leverage data analytics. The more customer data agents share, the more we can give back to them through predictive models. We help agents avoid churn and often pinpoint cross or up-sell opportunities. Artificial Intelligence also helps us personalize pricing and provide discount mechanisms for our highest-value customers.

What made Francesco’s phygital transformation successful?

I would say it’s three things. First, the Advisory Tool & Training. The advisory tool helps Francesco perform a 360 degree consultative interview, profile the customer and identify potential needs. The trainings are also important as they cover behavioral and attitudinal topics such as How to approach a customer? What is the opener in a needs-based advisory interview? What are probing techniques?

Second Francesco is able to Personalize the Value Propositions through modularity and bundling/unbundling of covers and services. Here the data strategy is imperative because we need to personalize the coverage, the service, the price, and ideally the go to market strategy. This is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of insurance at the moment!

Third, Incentives & Rewards. We continue to incentivize our agents on portfolio growth, volumes, but we’re also adding new Lifetime Partner dimensions, such as contact, data sharing and advisory. This focuses Francesco on retention and multi-holding.

What is the current status on Generali’s Phygital Advisors?

So far, we’re seeing premium on new business increasing 7-15%. The percentage of policies with more than two needs covered is up which is driving RNPS and loyalty.

Covid was clearly an accelerator. Two-and-a-half years ago, just 10% of our agents were equipped to advise and sell remotely. Today we have 100% digitally enabled agents. Likewise on online thought leadership. Three years ago, just 15% of our agents promoted themselves on social platforms. Today, we’re at 50%. Generali has undergone a significant technical and behavioural transformation.

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