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Swiss insurers: who’ll win the race for the customer interface?

Car illustrating the race for the customer interface
  • New participants entering the market and changing customer requirements have put established players under pressure to adapt.
  • The interface to customers can be seen as the core in the strategic (re)orientation process.
  • Insurance companies offer three possible options for action per business segment.
3 minutes to read
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How can the Swiss insurance industry assert itself in an increasingly digitalised market? As part of our joint insurance study conducted with Synpulse and ZHAW, we surveyed leading exponents of the Swiss insurance industry and developed a model to improve orientation for insurance companies in the current transformation phase.

Innovations and new market participants are also putting pressure on existing business models and providers in the insurance sector. Here the interface to customers can be seen as the core in the strategic (re)orientation process. Who will occupy the customer interface in the future, and how? These questions are the main focus of the joint study conducted by Synpulse, ZHAW and Zühlke, in which both C-level exponents and professional experts from leading Swiss insurance providers participated.

New starting situation in the customer interface race

The most important strategic questions concerns how one’s own company might position itself in the race for the customer interface. The decisive factor in this respect isn’t just the company’s own starting situation in terms of brand awareness, technical readiness or personnel skills; the relevance of the insurance product with a specific customer journey is also crucial. This must be assessed realistically: compared to other sectors, the insurance industry suffers from the common perception that insurance is simply a secondary product and the degree of interaction is often very low. On the other hand, the fact that customers generally have a high level of trust in insurers when it comes to maintaining data integrity is advantageous.

Where do market participants stand today?

It is a fallacy to say that a company can be digitalised on a linear axis. In other words, that you can trigger a transformation process in a traditional, non-digital company and expect to find a fully digitalised company at the end. Instead, companies need to ask themselves: ‘What strategy do we want to employ to drive the specific change for each individual business area?’ 

At company level, meanwhile, four general approaches can be observed in the Swiss insurance market: Some insurtech firms are clearly positioned (1) as ‘insurance factories’. The large all-line insurers are split into offensive (2), explorative (3) and waiting (4). Companies that are on the offensive want to take on the role of ecosystem orchestrator for defined business areas. Explorative companies are testing initial partnerships, while ‘waiting’ insurers are monitoring the development.

Options for action in the next stage of the race

Today, it is relatively easy to assign Swiss insurers to one of these camps. This is probably due to the different demands placed on the organisation and corporate culture. But how do we expect the market to develop and what options for action are available to the various market participants? This is exactly where we come in with our model.

Insurance study: model of the insurance sector of the future
Lukas Urech Zühlke
Contact person for Switzerland

Lukas Urech

Director Business Development

For more than 20 years Lukas Urech has been helping companies implement digitalisation projects. He joined Zühlke in August 2016 and is responsible for the insurance business as Director Business Development. Lukas holds a MAS in General Management from ETH Zurich and specialises in solution-orientated business development. Creating value for customers is his number one priority. 

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