Swift Digital Insurance is a relatively young company, having officially launched in June of 2018. But ours is not the story of a start up, in fact, Swift Digital’s story is one of revolution. As countless businesses now scramble to reinvent themselves, we though it would be appropriate to share our story.
We began our digital journey in a world before COVID-19 made such a pivot necessary. We view our revolution as a company as just that, a journey, perhaps with no end, but with trajectory of constant change. Swift Digital has successfully operated as a purely digital insurance broker for almost two years and yet today we, like so many businesses, are working as hard as we can to better our digital selves.
Swift Digital Insurance’s parent company, Cornerstone Insurance Services, has operated as a traditional insurance brokerage in Saskatchewan for over 70 years. The insurance industry has been largely spared the disruptive forces we’ve seen over the last 15 years. We have seen unprecedented pressure on many long established traditional businesses to reimagine themselves. Household names like Blockbuster and Rogers Video gave way to Netflix, while Sears and Zellers disappear due to pressure from retailers like Amazon.
We at Swift Digital had the luxury of beginning our genesis slowly, in a world where there was little pressure to accelerate our digitization. That certainly is not the case today. In the hopes that our experience can help other businesses, here are some of our most impactful digital learnings.
Path Not Product
An initial hurdle we considered, was that insurance itself is highly legislated- it’s a very old very traditional product. So how would we re-invent insurance so that it would work online?
The answer – we didn’t have to. Our product didn’t need to change, it was just the path by which we reached and interacted with our customers that needed to change. In fact, Swift Digital sells virtually all the same products that Cornerstone Insurance has been selling for over 70 years.
We realized that people were now searching for insurance online, more than they were listening to the radio or reading print ads. We set about gaining expertise in online marketing to replace our more traditional marketing efforts. Once we knew how to be where our customers would find us online, we had to create an online experience that met our new customers’ expectations. This was a lot of trial and error, but we found the best formula for success included:
- A clean website, with ultra easy navigation.
- An environment that facilitates learning with information on our products, which allow customers to learn on their own time.
- Lead generation so when clients are interested, we provide the ability to begin almost any transaction with us online.
At the end of the day, from the information we gather to the product we ultimately provide, the only real difference is the way we interact with our customers in doing so.
Initially our aim was to be an entirely digital experience for customers- information entered, quotes provided and policies purchased. We quickly discovered that this wasn’t actually what consumers wanted from us.
Customers told us they wanted to learn about the insurance products that were of interest, they wanted to start and even receive quotes online, but they wanted to interact with someone, ask questions and get the personalized touch of a human before they actually finalized a transaction.
With that in mind, we’ve carefully thought through each product, its applications and the target audience. Some products are available to buy online, others will return pricing and information, while some simply allow the customer to request contact to discuss. By calibrating the automation to the product and the prospective customer we’ve been able to deliver a more customized and successful digital experience.
The real take away from this is that most people still want to interact with other people. We had to embrace new ways of interaction when face to face meetings weren’t possible, such as email, live chat, video chat, video proposals, video clips, blogs, white papers etc.
The Customer Is Always Right
Year ago, acquiring a good or service almost always meant going to someone’s store or office and making an inquiry. As technology advanced, transactions by phone, online, by email and by video have taken root.
We learned early on that our customers are unique and have unique preferences for communicating. To that end we endeavour to be present by whatever medium our customers choose to interact with us. If a customer calls us we call them back, if they email us we return by email.
By catering to each individual customer’s comfortable communication style we’ve been able to be present for our customers in new ways and ways they ultimately are more comfortable with.
Buy or Rent?
As we’ve become more digital, certainly there has been expenses in doing so. We’ve had to invest in technologies, integrations, web development, content development and training for our staff.
A key consideration in this undertaking is if we wish to develop a technology ourselves, which amounts to “buying” the technology. This allows for ultimate customization and differentiation as our technology is one of a kind. However, the expense of updates, maintenance and the need to redevelop to maintain a competitive edge are ours.
Where we don’t wish to develop our own technology, there are many solutions available as an “out of the box” option provided by our vendor partners, which amounts to “renting” the technology. In this case there is typically ongoing licence costs, the technology is not often unique and customization can be more limited. However, there is no major outlay of resources to develop a new technology, updates are taken care of by the software provider and we always have a current version
Ultimately there are instances where either approach can be best suited. By keeping the rent vs buy pros and cons front of mind in making decisions, we’ve been able to achieve more than we would have had we pursued one strategy over the other exclusively.
No two digital revolutions will be the same. Online is a medium that allows for a great deal of differentiation, which can be both exciting and intimidating.
As our fellow business strive to serve their customers in a changed world, we look forward to seeing our friends in the business community succeed via the innovation we know is possible online.
The Swift Team