Gamification in Insurance: A Path to Customer-Centricity

Leland Holcomb, Scout & Investor Readiness - Hartford InsurTech Hub, Startupbootcamp
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Leland Holcomb, Scout & Investor Readiness - Hartford InsurTech Hub, Startupbootcamp

Leland Holcomb, Scout & Investor Readiness - Hartford InsurTech Hub, Startupbootcamp

Insurance is a business of trust—a trust-backed partnership with the insurer protecting the insured from a spectrum of risks and harms. Trust systems are predicated upon strong communication amongst parties. For trust to build, the insured must feel their needs are understood, their risks covered, and their thoughts, fears, and preferences engaged.

Customer engagement is thus a key aspect of the system of trust that underpins the relationship between the insurer and the insured. While insurance remains a highly relationship-driven industry, touch points remain low—often only when the customer signs on for a policy, makes a payment, or reports a claim. In pursuit of this system of trust, insurers and insurtechs alike ask themselves essential questions like—How should we best engage with our policy holders? What is the optimal amount of customer connectivity?

Gamification, once viewed merely as a playful tool to engage a small subset of millennial customers, has emerged as a potential driver of increased and effective engagement to boost retention, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and attract new customers into the market. As the concept rises in prominence (and understanding) in the insurance community, some interesting new methods of employing gamification are emerging.

First, gamification techniques can be employed to drive customer loyalty through brand awareness by educating customers on insurance brands and insurable risks and connecting them to relevant products for those risks.

  Customer engagement is thus a key aspect of the system of trust that underpins the relationship between the insurer and the insured  

As an example, at a recent hackathon one team created a concept and initial basic prototype for a Facebook game that gamified risk education around cybersecurity. The concept was simple—a Facebook game similar to Diner Dash in which players have to manage rapidly developing problems associated with smart homes. Along the way, players are given the ability to insure specific devices upfront to free up needed time during the game. As players increased their understanding of the risks presented, they learned the existence, methods, and benefits of new and different lines of insurance.

Instead of simply presenting associated risks, the above-described game was also geared to connect to a specific company’s branding efforts. Absent such a brand connection, this type of gamification is problematic from a business standpoint; however, as insurers work to drive brand engagement and loyalty, interactive gamification offers interesting potential.

Another less direct example is Optimity Health, a corporate wellness platform that has integrated a health risk assessment tool with loyalty points that can be used to earn rewards. In this way, they aim to provide cross and upsell opportunities by connecting with users by providing rewards and establishing leaderboards so that users can compete to company-designed badges.

Employing gamification tactics to educate and connect people with relevant, personalized products is low-cost to implement and helps drive customer (and in the case of Optimity employee) engagement. Cross and up-sell techniques like badge and loyalty programs have worked in other industries including finance, and as insurance increasingly integrates with products and services, this model becomes all the more viable.

While not a traditional form of gamification, another interesting application is connecting seemingly unrelated, value-add services to core insurance services, generating additional value and improved service to policyholders.

Insurance customers are changing with the times. They demand more personalized services and are ready and willing for insurers to extend their service offerings beyond insurance. Many customers are even willing to trade their data, so long as they receive returns in the form of lesser premiums and/or more personalized services.

Indicative of this movement in customer sentiment is the rise of embedded insurance services. SecureHome, for example, indirectly “gamifies” cybersecurity by encouraging cyber insurance engagement through the management of home networks. Customers are granted a full window into their network accessible through an app, so they can manage household activity and understand usage habits–all while protecting their home from cyber threats – opening up opportunities for new uses beyond the core personalized protection service. In this way, they “gamify” cyber protection by offering a service composed of fun, value-add, and risk-mitigating amenities.

Techniques of gamification can also be employed to radically simplify, increase and improve front-end processes for customers.

Another insurtech startup, Boundlss is on a mission to end lifestyle disease, employing aspects of gamification to educate and encourage healthy behavior by providing a personal health coach directly on a user’s smartphone.

One interesting use-case for Boundlss’ technology is the application of their human/AI-powered conversational health assistant to help employees out on workers compensation leave. Users engage in real-time, personalized, and emotionally gratifying discussions around improving their health and have the option to get coverage information or interact with their insurer as needed. In this way, Boundlss has employed aspects of gamification to make healthy lifestyles more fun and accessible to people who might otherwise have been intimidated or disengaged.

While to many, gamification is simply a playful tool for engaging a small subset of millennial customers, extracting the full benefits of gamification requires a fuller view of the concept. From add-ons to embedded insurance to playful education of risks to personalized risk-mitigating services, gamifications in many forms provide opportunities to engage customers in new and meaningful ways.

Herein lies the potential power of gamification. It can drive us to make better decisions and to engage in otherwise boring or routine processes in a stimulating and beneficial way.

No matter how you parse it, customer experience is the key and gamification may prove to be an effective catalyst for converting painful or unwanted conversations into interesting and stimulating touch points with value to customers in and of themselves - morphing pain-points into value-add services for customers.

All companies should be striving to improve customer service and to make their products and services more customer-friendly. Gamification is a great way to improve customer service by making customer and potential customer interactions more valuable, interesting, and fun. Better customer experience in turn increases customer loyalty, attracts new customers, and improves customer retention.

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