Matthew Lehman is the Head of Industry Strategy, Financial Services (Industry Principal) at RingCentral, an American publicly traded provider of cloud-based communication and collaboration products and services for businesses. Matt was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.
Matt, how has your diverse background in the banking and insurance space shaped your current view of the insurance industry?
“I've been fortunate to work across a number of large banks and insurance companies helping drive transformational digital changes. The biggest change has been around how the customer has become a bigger and bigger voice in the process. If you think back to the early 2000s, we were still taking a very provider-centric lens to the digital experience as nascent as it was at the time.
One of my most interesting memories is running a UX test back in about 2004 or 2005 using very crude technologies to try to assess an account holder’s feedback for a new account opening process. Now, we have the ability now to get real-time feedback that matches the data with the tools they're using: a mobile device, browser or tablet.
If you combine some of the technologies we have these days, you can begin to build really solid personas and customer journeys. Having the diverse background of transitioning from the provider lens to the customer lens has helped shape the change to a customer-driven experience that will be intelligent and more powerful going forward.
I would argue that banking is always a little bit ahead of insurance, mostly because it historically tends to be a higher interaction model. When you think about your mobile banker, they're logging in roughly 20 times a month. Whereas a lot of insurance customers, particularly on the P&C side, do so twice a year. At renewal, maybe if at all, interacting with your agent. Banking was earlier to embrace a lot of these digital norms and customer centricity.
The way insurtechs are pushing the industry has driven a higher interaction model for insurance. They're embracing some of those digital experiences that were more the domain of banks. It started with personal lines and is now shifting into commercial lines. You're seeing a lot more digital transformation happening in commercial lines where personal lines were transitioning five or 10 years ago.”
How does the use of technology help the industry do things better?
“One of the hallmarks of my career, which I learned from working with really smart people at Progressive, Westfield and KeyBank, is that technology is not the end result. It's not the goal, it's the enabler. It's how you take an experience and make it easier using technology. A great example is the team I led at Progressive. They were using the mobile camera to make quoting an insurance policy easier by grabbing a snap of a driver's license or a vin. That has continued to extend as that technology has become ubiquitous, particularly in vehicle and in-home technology.”
Recently, there was a lot of writing about how we haven't fully transitioned, especially around underwriting, to embracing technology. It had historically been more of a customer acquisition capability. As I said, ‘How do you make a quote experience easier? Do you make a claims experience easier?’ The next phase is using technology to drive the entire customer journey from acquisition through underwriting, using data about the applicant to feed into the claims experience. Now, I’m privileged to be part of RingCentral because I get to help stitch the process together through communication. The technology itself is great, but if you lose that ability to utilize it in customer and agent interactions, then you're only seeing a portion of the value.
Being holistic from a communications perspective is a passion of mine. I'm the lead inventor on two patents for mobile insurance technology. That was always about enabling a better user experience. Now, that's transitioning to some of the analytics and intelligence to make some pieces of the insurance value chain more powerful and enabled.”
What’s the last mile problem for insurance distribution?
“RingCentral is a cloud-based, unified communications and contact center as a service provider. What has always been a huge challenge for insurance firms is the notion of the last mile challenge. Insurance agencies are spending significant dollars on their product set and digital experiences, but oftentimes, they fail to generate returns on those investments. This is because all of the end touchpoints from the policyholder to the agent are not solid.
A great example would be to think of how many insurance companies are rolling out UBI products, and they're investing or utilizing a third-party tool. But, if a policyholder hears about it, they call into the contact center and want the latest and greatest information. What if that contact center agent isn't fully up to speed or they don't have instant access to a knowledge worker? How many times did they call an agent about some information, and that agent has to then call the carrier who then has to get to a knowledge worker? It's like a game of telephone. Where companies like RingCentral can play a pivotal role is when you pull together your unified communications, you lock down that last mile.”
How do you successfully involve all channels in insurance interactions?
“It's a timely question because what's happening in the industry right now is we're moving from an omnichannel world to a right channel world. If a policyholder calls in, they're going to get bounced around through different channels to get a resolution to their issue. That's expensive for the insurance company, but it's also a waste of time for the policyholder or third-party claimant.
We've all grown up around this notion of omnichannel. I'm going to come in, and you're going to help figure out what's the right channel for my needs. With the advent of more intelligence and customer centricity, insurance companies are going to start making educated guesses as to what's the right channel to solve that customer or policyholder’s needs. Over time, those guesses are going to become intelligent, and they're going to get it right most of the time.
The benefit is to the policyholders as they get their issue resolved quickly. It also begins to make those channels much more productive and efficient. Policyholder satisfaction and agent satisfaction are going to increase. You'll see this approach cascade through the industry over the next two to three years.”
What are you most looking forward to in the future of the insurance space?
“I grew up in the nexus of technology, business, product and marketing within digital financial services and insurance. What I'm most looking forward to is when that right channeling moves even more. People will understand my needs and be much more proactive. That's been the holy grail, right? How do you move from reacting when I have a need, claim or even a lifestyle change to finally piece together all of the backend intelligence and data?
You're almost reaching out to me right before I need it. The notion of truly knowing and protecting me is on the horizon both because of what's happening in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning but also in those communication capabilities. We've all been talking about it for as long as I can remember. We're finally on the precipice of it, and I'm super excited because as an industry, we don't always have the best reputation. This will help change that to becoming a value for policyholders.”