An old industry adapting to the digital age
Insurance, something that we all need, but never want to pay for. It’s a product that we never really think about, until times gets tough and life happens. Most insurers will highlight the fact that you’re paying for the peace of mind, the relief of knowing that when disaster hits you have a safety net. An industry that dates back to the 1700s, a product that wasn’t just a fad. Insurance companies have a historic reputation of being a boring, stuffy, risk averse, and quiet simply an old man’s board room.
All of this is or once was true, but as the world around us changes insurance companies have had to understand the new types of risks society and businesses can face. The industry is quickly changing and adapting. I can tell you when I was first recruited by Liberty Mutual during my undergrad years the recruiter actually said to me “insurance is sexy.” While I wouldn’t go that far, I can tell you even in my 3 short years here I have seen multiple transformations take place, all driven or enabled in technology or digital disruption. I should preface this by saying, yes I work at Liberty Mutual as a member of their Human Resources team. So before you begin to ask me questions “How do I lower my premium?” and “What are your latest predictions on CAT loss this year?” I can say I leave those type of questions to the expert talent which I hope we employ and develop.
Liberty Mutual has is a company that has been in business for over 100 years. It was a company which started specializing in workers compensation, and has quickly grown into a fortune 100. Today Liberty has global reach and is quickly climbing the ranks as a competitive property and casualty insurer. Today, the company’s drive towards innovation has helped not only recreate the way in which we approach the concept of insurance, but has aim to create a cultural workplace shift towards test and learn.
A few years back our IT teams began to start a journey away from Waterfall methodology to Agile methodology. In the simplest terms, waterfall methodology is a way of working which is highly process driven and focused on the final outcome, whereas agile approach is rapid and iterative. While waterfall focuses on building a final product, agile focuses on constant delivery and improvement. What sounds like a simple switch for software developers, further challenged every area of the business to re-think the way we worked and the way in which we provided products and services to our customer, whoever that may be.
Agile was just the beginning. As a once recruiter for Liberty, I had the pleasure of attracting talent on this new journey. Liberty worked to create an environment that combined agile methodology and design thinking to redesign the customer experience. Our business leaders understood that other insurer carriers were no long our only competition, we are competing against any and all companies known for having an amazing digital and online experience buying products. In order to stay sharp I had a hand in helping to build out the talent for our customer centric agile design teams. These teams brought together talented technologists and developers practicing agile methodology with creative, user experience experts who brought design thinking practices to create something transformative.
I will admit it was a difficult endeavor to break through the formal reputation which Liberty Mutual has always maintained, but through this journey the company transformed itself.
- Our digital transformation teams worked in start-up like environments in co-located spaces, some even within WeWork.
- Our teams were getting even closer to the customer through real time customer feedback loops and making digital upgrades and changes directly after engagement
- Removing deadlines, and focusing more on making the life better for the customer
These are just a few of the ways in which the Liberty help to set these teams up for success. Small squads were built with a combination of IT talent, business knowledge, and UX experience. Each team worked around one customer journey to improve the life of the customer, we called these digital platform journeys. One of the pioneer and most success journeys was called “I Buy Motorcycle.” This platform team redesigned the online customer experience of purchasing motorcycle insurance online. The team was able to deliver a minimum viable product to the market in 28 days. By getting closer to the customer, as well as understanding the digital experience transformed the sale of this insurance product and allowed for future improvement and development. This is just one experience of a journey team, the easiest way that I would explain the way we think to candidates was this:
Picture yourself as a customer, you just have just won the lottery and find yourself with a lot more wealth. With that new found wealth you decide to quit your job and buy a yacht. You are sitting on the yacht with a nice cool glass of wine in your hand enjoying the beautiful Mediterranean sun shining down. Now, before you leave that slip how am I (Liberty Mutual) going to have you purchase and fully insure your new yacht without ever having to put down that glass of wine…?
The agile and design thinking culture used by our business has further ingrained itself into all areas of the LMI, even those not part of our digital transformation teams. Who would have known that change in our online presence would challenge the way we think as an enterprise? I have seen a culture shift in the way we work, we value innovation and thrive on customer feedback made to improve our end products and services. I can honestly say that Liberty Mutual Insurance is not just your grandfather’s insurance company anymore…
See for yourself …