May 19, 2020

2020 and beyond: why it’s vital that insurers embrace AI-driven CX

Insurance
AI
Customer Experience
Mia Papanicolaou, COO, Striata...
3 min
2020 and beyond: why it’s vital that insurers embrace AI-driven CX

When it comes to insurance, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to determine premiums, assist with fraud detection, and speed up claims processing is becoming far more commonplace. Less well regarded, but equally important, is the role AI plays in customer communication. 

The communication sent to customers by insurers is often the only interaction with them beyond the policy or bill. These can be greatly enhanced using AI, which can result in far more loyal customers. 

Considering insurers are traditionally slow to adopt new technologies when it comes to the customer experience and are  increasingly susceptible to disruption by a wave of tech-savvy startups, it’s vital that they embrace AI as a customer communication tool in 2020. 

The need for AI 

One of the major failings of the insurance industry is that it simply doesn’t talk to its customers. In fact, some estimates show that more than 90% of insurers worldwide do not communicate with their customers even once a year.

That not only fosters the feeling among customers that they don’t really know their insurer, but that their insurer doesn’t know or care about them. 

Moreover, thanks to their experiences with other industries, such as banking and retail, today’s customer demands highly-personalized products and services, supported by relevant, easy to understand and contextual information - instantly on hand, via any channel they choose.

Insurers sit on mountains of data that would allow them to send out valuable, hyper-personalized communication. More than most industries, they’re in an ideal position to embrace the opportunities presented by AI. 

In the insurance space particularly, AI can help insurers go from taking a reactive approach to customer communication to being able to take a predictive approach that anticipates the wants and needs of their customers.

That encompasses everything from ensuring that customers receive personalized offers that are relevant to them, to improving service and communicating with them on their preferred channel without it having to be stated first. 

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The business imperative 

Research has found that “insurers who reinvent the customer experience and drive human-machine collaboration are achieving returns in excess of 10 times their investment and could increase industry-wide profitability by between US$10.4-billion and US$20.8-billion”. 

But, as more and more insurers embrace AI, merely adopting it will no longer be sufficient. As far back as 2017, the insurance industry was, on average, spending nearly twice as much on AI as other verticals.

Insurers that don’t have an AI communication strategy risk falling further behind and having to spend more money to catch up. Those that have, meanwhile, have to keep working to stay ahead of, or alongside, the competition. 

2020 and beyond 

But what might that look like in 2020 and beyond? 

Using AI tools in digital communication will help transform the customer relationship. For example, using predictive tools to provide content that is not only relevant to the customer but also increases their spend will become commonplace. Couple that with the extension of chatbots in emails sent, providing another service option for customers while reducing call center volumes, makes AI the tool that will move the needle on customer experience.

To varying degrees, these changes are already sweeping through the insurance industry. In 2020 and beyond, they will continue to do so and at an accelerated pace. 

Whatever new technologies emerge, however, it’s vital that the customer remains at the heart of all communication strategies and that they be implemented in as human-centered and authentic a way as possible. 

By Mia Papanicolaou, COO, Striata 

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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Tax
Compliance
financeleaders
Deloitte
Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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