Providing convenience through digitalisation
Mr Lenoci, every home owner in the canton of Bern is obliged to take out a building insurance with your company. In this situation, do you really have to fight for customers?
(laughs) This question arises again and again. Basically, within the GVB Group we must make a fundamental distinction between the subsidiaries under private law and the sovereign Gebäudeversicherung Bern. The subsidiaries operate in the market as independent legal entities subjected to relevant laws regarding supply and demand. The sovereign part of the Group is indeed a monopolistic service provider. However, to me, customer orientation is not a legal issue but a basic attitude: we want to be a valuable partner for our customers. We fight for this every day and always think what relevant benefits we can offer.
What is the significance of digital channels for the GVB?
In my view, digitisation offers opportunities on three levels: firstly, added value for customers needs to be created, for example by offering “convenience” or targeted solutions tailored to their needs. Secondly, we need to be digitally fit internally in the sense of being able to “work smart”. If we want to achieve this, we need to enable our employees to think and work digitally. And thirdly, digitisation is the driving force to help us speed up our processes.
What do you mean by “creating convenience”?
The insurance sector in its entirety is characterised by very few relevant touchpoints in the life cycle of a customer: for example, when taking out an insurance policy, the annual premium invoice, and in case of damage. Therefore, on the one hand we want to use the few existing touchpoints to offer optimum customer care, and on the other hand we intend to boost the frequency of our contacts with our customers and take the relationship to a new, more comprehensive level. Customers want to live in their homes, drive their cars, and travel. Taking out insurance is not a basic need. It is a security-related matter. That is why when communicating with our customers we no longer focus exclusively on issues of “insurance and damage”. We go much further, we talk with the home owners about safety and prevention. This is why we launched for instance our weather alert and raise the public’s awareness with our prevention campaigns.
How do you do this?
We analyse the core processes and look for ways to make the most of these opportunities through digitisation. Last year we launched for instance our smart claims settlement solution. The new system enables communication with customers via a mobile chat and integrates the companies that assume the claims settlement. We take the burden of claims remediation off our customers and, if they so wish, relieve them of much of the related effort. The process is customer-oriented, transparent and fast.
Offer added value with hausinfo.ch
The pace and the spirit of initiative that the GVB Group shows here are impressive, especially considering the company’s size. How do you actually maintain the balance between daily business and innovation?
To initiate change processes in this tradeoff between existing and new structures is not easy for anyone. We are therefore implementing selected digital projects as “speedboats” alongside our daily business. This bimodal model challenges the existing processes, provides flexibility and high speed. For example, the smart claims settlement solution was launched as MVP after three weeks and was further developed based on a continuous consultation with our customers. The big challenge emerges when the speedboats are to be integrated into the organisation. In this context, efficient change management and involvement of all participants are the decisive determinants of success.
Hausinfo.ch is an initiative launched by the GVB – what significance does this platform have in the customer lifecycle?
As I already mentioned, for home owners insurance as such is not an issue of central importance. By launching hausinfo.ch back in 2003, we created a platform where home owners can find a wide array of home-related topics. The purpose of presenting our neutral, informative and seasonal themes is to offer a useful added value – going beyond insurance. The number of readers reaching around 1.2 million unique visitors annually suggests that our offer has met the needs of our customers.
Does this platform bring you any specific benefits or does the GVB consider it a kind of a "public service" offer?
By running the hausinfo.ch platform, we continuously create experiences and encounters in the digital world and position ourselves as "experts around the house". The key benefit is the raising of awareness, which improves prevention. If we can prevent even a few damage cases, for example thanks to our weather alert or the smoke detectors we sell, then the investment pays off.
What determinants of success have crystallized in your company?
To be successful in the digital world you need to be open, curious and agile. Sometimes you have to overcome yourself. We need to create space to experiment. We must have the will to change our attitude. In addition, we have to think about ecosystems, because the limits within which an insurance company operates are increasingly becoming irrelevant. What matters is the orientation on finding solutions from the customer’s point of view.
It is important to see the picture clearly. It is not about holding on to the digital. Being physically present when it enhances added value for the customer is important. Here is another example of smart claims management: it does not matter to us whether damage is reported digitally, by telephone or in a letter. But when the customer is looking for digital channels, it is crucial to consistently implement solutions digitisation offers – always in order to generate added value for the central stakeholders.
Mr Lenoci, thank you for your openness and your thought-provoking remarks.
Tiziano Lenoci, Head of Marketing & Sales at the GVB Group, has been employed with the company for 16 years and pushes the digital transformation of the company forward. He is fascinated trends. He initiates change processes, by going ahead. He is convinced that we need to recognise new developments at an early stage in order to be able to identify opportunities and challenges, to prepare for them and to actively shape the next strategic steps.