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Client experience is a buzzword; it covers a wide range of topics. Continuity, stability, attention, extra or bonus services and follow ups are key elements to great customer satisfaction. But what does it exactly mean for a leading international insurance company like Allianz? Claudia Oriovics, Head of Market Management at Allianz Hungária thinks customer experience is  the name of the game. Giving  personalized experience to each and every customer could be a great advantage on the insurance market, even and especially in a digitalized world.

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How does Allianz demonstrate leadership in these areas? – What does client experience mean for the company exactly?

It is all about how the customers feel about the interaction, whenever they get in contact with us  –  I think it is as simple as that. For example, when you buy an insurance or have a claim, does your experience give you the confidence that your customer interests and convenience are put into the center of the process? These considerations are important, so this is customer experience – I would say. While we keep delivering high standard services, we need to show to our customers that we care as well. And this has to be in our focus regardless of the fancy buzzwords that are around these days.

Some people think client experience is – or will be soon – a „competitive battleground” that will stand as the measurement of business success. Compared to other companies in the insurance industry can you evaluate the performance of Allianz regarding client experience?

I fully agree that customer experience is the name of the game . I would not only like to consider our industry, but we also need to compare ourselves with other companies and industries who deliver excellent customer experience . If we are the best among the insurers, but the overall performance of the insurance industry is bad, then the customers will not be satisfied. Perhaps because they got used to other companies and industries where things are more convenient, simple, and fast. At Allianz we know we have to fulfil these requirements  as well to deliver good customer experience.

Whatever we do at Allianz, it is starting out with the customers. We call this customer centricity.

– Claudia Oriovics said.

When we compare our performance this year to the past,  I can state that we have achieved quite a lot.  We have developed new online calculators and made them far more convenient and easier to use for the customers, we also have renewed and simplified our claim journeys. This all happened within a short period of time,  which was actually not possible some time ago. To give evidence to what I am saying – why I believe that Allianz is in a good position among insurers – we  were rewarded with the Digital Prosperity Badge from the Ministry of Technology and Innovation. This  gives us the confidence that we are on the right track.

Can we say that selling is not the main objective anymore, since how the customers feel – during the sales process – is equally important?

It is a long-lasting trend, and it is not only about selling anymore, maybe it worked in the past. Earlier companies developed products and services behind closed doors and customers used what was offered to them, but now we live in a completely different world. Now customers have all the possibility to compare everything on the internet and see what others are offering, they can easily choose among multiple players. Just selling products and handling claims in the insurance sector will definitely not be enough anymore.

I think we need to see our customers much more as long-term partner, and nurture the relationship.

– Claudia Oriovics points out.

Especially in insurance business, if you buy a policy, you still  hope to  never have a claim. We all hope, we do not need  to get in touch with the customer in this perspective. Of course, in the case something happens, we are here for them in the best possible way.  Yet, we are trying to deliver our values also differently. This year we launched the “Allianz Balance” webinar initiative. We had a series of webinars and presentations about mental health topics. We are happy to provide our customers with this opportunity, but also those people who aren’t our customers – yet. So, it is free for everyone,  because maybe some people would like to get to know Allianz better with regards to our values and not just be informed about the products we offer.  

What do you think, which new channel will be vital, which will emerge to provide good client experience at Allianz soon?

At Allianz we follow a multi-channel approach. We are all individuals, and everyone has a different kind of preferred way to interact. We focus on further strengthening the digital channels, however it will always be possible to speak to a real person at Allianz, because we believe that human touch is important. We also need to be aware of what types of new channels are coming up, because there are many kinds of possibilities, and we need to jump on those, if people prefer to use them in future. Though, there is  one channel which does not fit to our values and which we would like to reduce to the minimum. This  is sending physical, paper-based letters to the customers, because we want to avoid printing and sending them out. Sustainability, that is caring for the world we live in, is one of our key values that Allianz globally demonstrates.

A smile can improve many “difficult” situations, however in a digital client experience there is not much room for human interactions. Can we somehow substitute the “power of smile” through the digital customer journey?

What we can offer in the future instead of in-person meetings – where also facial expressions can be transmitted – is a video conference or a live stream. When people cannot meet in person, there is still an opportunity for online meetings, this is one way to transmit the smile. This is a direct way, I would say. There is, however, an indirect way to transmit a smile, and it is about which language we use in our communications to the customers. We can still work on that as well; we can implement a much nicer language in written forms than what we have now. Many other companies use a more conversational language. We all know the fancy apps and services that say: “Hi Claudia, how can I help you?” – we are not there yet, but intend to improve this in future to give this kind of personal touch through the language we use.

How did Covid impact the client experience at Allianz, has the pandemic perhaps improved it? Have the customers received more what they thought they can get in times like this?

Many customers – we saw this in multiple cases and studies – started using online channels during the pandemic, because they just had to use them anyway. By now, customers got used to them and are still using them continuously. Nevertheless, many still prefer the in-person contact, which is totally fine because we are social beings. Covid has accelerated the development of digital tools and the world itself. For example, it has raised our awareness about the importance of mental health.  if it hadn’t happened, we probably wouldn’t have started the Allianz Balance program this year In future, the combination of online and in-person service, –  we can call it hybrid service,  – will be the way to go.

How are you progressing  with the „Voice of the customer” initiative? It is a unique way how Allianz measures client experience – can you share any information that indicates the results so far?

We received more than 30 thousand feedback responses through this initiative so far. This initiative was launched in motor claims last year, since then, we have expanded it to cover several other customer journeys e.g., home claims,  or also  sales. When a contract terminates or is cancelled, we also ask for feedback. By the end of the year, we will have most of the customer journeys and channels covered . So, from implementation perspective we are  quite advanced. But it is not only about implementing it and sending the questionnaires. What is far more important is that we actively deal  with the replies. I am a huge fan of the VoC initiative and glad that our company introduced this concept. This direct customer feedback enables us to create great experiences with Allianz for them.

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