“We are not controlled by digitalization. We do, however, take it seriously. And we believe it offers many more opportunities than risks.” That was my recent response to the question of a journalist who wanted to know whether the “digitalization nervousness” in our sector these days was somewhat exaggerated. The question is a thought-provoking one because it shows what kind of image the insurance sector (or at least parts of it) is conveying publicly when it comes to digitalization. You could say that we are literally like a deer caught in the headlights – with the headlights representing the rapid pace of change and the new fintech players on the market. At Swiss Life, we have decided against adopting the paralyzed “what now?” stance. We want to move forward and seize the new opportunities firmly. We have agreed upon a clear vision and an appropriate organizational governance for our digital transformation. During this process, we were guided by three hypotheses:

First: Our customers expect a consistent consulting experience across all channels.

One of our guiding principles is the provision of a seamless customer experience in everything we do in the area of digital development. This is why we are developing our platforms not only for interaction with our customers but also for our physical marketing channels, the Service Center, our brokers and our partners. The goal: A uniform perspective of the customers for all participants. For our customers, this means that they will receive consulting of the highest quality at all times via every channel and with regard to every detail of their customer relationship. As self-evident as this may sound, it is very challenging to implement in the reality of the day-to-day business environment. It requires a fundamental rethink of many processes in our value-added chain, as well as a rethink for our employees. Which brings us to the next hypothesis.

Second: True (digital) customer orientation requires “Transformation 2.0”.

After making a concerted effort to improve customer orientation and the corresponding behavior of our employees at Swiss Life over the last few years, we are now starting “Transformation 2.0”. This means that we will be fostering enthusiasm for digital opportunities at the Service Center, in our own marketing channels and among our partners, as well as questioning traditional working approaches. How will we be utilizing the new tools? How will we communicate with our customers in the future on the same (digital) level? Which digital services do they expect from us? The term “omnichannel marketing” plays a significant role in our internal discussions. We are convinced that personal customer contact does not lose any of its importance because of additional digital access points. On the contrary, it becomes even more important. In the future, however, it will take place with a completely new quality to it, since our customers will be much better prepared before meeting us personally. And we will be able to carry out consultations in a new and improved manner that will be more beneficial for customers.

Third: Only those who offer customers digital added value will lead the way as digital pioneers.

Since the beginning of 2015, we have been offering our private and corporate customers digital access that is unique within the sector. With the “Swiss Life MyWorld” portal, they not only receive a comprehensive view of their individual pension situation, which includes all three pillars of the Swiss pension system, but also access to a community that offers a large number of useful self-services, such as simulations carried out with users’ own pension information. The portal also delivers attractive, clearly structured services that go far beyond the usual pension-related topics. Looking for a new condominium to purchase? In “Swiss Life MyWorld”, customers not only find suitable real estate in their immediate vicinity, but we also show them how they can finance their purchase based on their personal pension situation.

We have set ourselves the goal of acquiring 220,000 customers as active users on our portal by 2018. To accomplish this, we must build on the new understanding we have gained – in other words, “Transformation 2.0”. We will then be able to automatically offer “Customer Experience 2.0” as well – and join the digital pioneers in Switzerland.

About the author

Ivo Furrer studied law at the universities of Zurich and Fribourg and wrote his thesis on employee benefits in Switzerland. After joining Winterthur Life in 1982, he worked for several years in international industrial insurance in Switzerland, the UK and the USA. In 1998, he was appointed Chief Underwriting Officer at Winterthur International. He subsequently moved to the Credit Suisse Group, where he was Head of e-Investment Services Europe and a member of the management of Personal Financial Services. Ivo Furrer began working for Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) in 2002, initially in Germany as head of the international key account business, and in 2005 as a member of the Global Corporate Executive Committee.

In 2007, he was appointed CEO of Life Switzerland and member of the Global Life Executive Committee of Zurich Financial Services.SwissLife_logoab

In September 2008, Ivo Furrer joined the Swiss Life Group as a member of the Corporate Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer Switzerland (CEO Switzerland). The Swiss Life Group, private partner of Greater Zurich Area AG, is one of Europe’s leading providers of comprehensive pension and financial Solutions.

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