With many insurers now focused on becoming more ‘customer-centric’ as a way to drive growth and increase value, we spoke with Peter Roschke, Regional Chief Transformation and Customer Officer at AXA in Asia where the vision is to become ‘the most customer-centric insurer in Asia, and by 2030 serve 100 million customers.
How is this theme of ‘customer-centricity’ influencing the transformation agenda at AXA in Asia?
Our vision of becoming the most customer centric insurer in Asia and reinventing the customer experience really drives all of our transformation objectives and activities. We are running a broad set of projects across multiple portfolios but all with that vision in mind.
Virtually every transformation decision we make – from the shape of the internal organisation and how we operate through to what IT systems we use and what distribution strategies we activate – ultimately needs to respond to that end goal of delivering our vision.
Has that shift disrupted the operating and business model for AXA?
I think things that people used to assume were true about the insurance business model are no longer true and that is driving massive change. The notion of having an ongoing relationship with a customer is now actually quite realistic for insurers.
The flow and conversation back and forth between companies and customers is now much easier and that allows insurers to be more proactive, more collaborative, anticipate their customers’ needs and ultimately move from being a provider of risk transfer solutions to instead become a collaborative partner in the mitigation and prevention of risk.
Does that approach influence the way you conduct transformation initiatives at AXA?
It does. I think every insurer going through a transformation thinks about the data and technical expertise that is required. And I think they strive to create more agile and flexible organisations. But we start with an over-arching desire to deliver a superior customer experience and that really remains first and foremost in our minds as we move through our projects.
How important is agility in driving a successful transformation initiative in the insurance sector?
I think there is a lot of talk about ‘agile’ as an IT implementation method but where I think agility is really important is on the business and operations side. You really need to have an approach that allows you to implement something relatively quickly, see how it behaves, and have the people and processes in place to react. You need to have smaller, nimbler teams that are funded on an ongoing basis – not just an end-to-end project basis – who can evolve the capability, see how customers are responding and make changes as a result.
Asia is a very diverse region and customer preferences change from market to market and country to country. How does this influence the way ideas are generated and integrated across the region?
One of the most exciting things about the Asia region is its diversity and my view is that we essentially have 16 highly innovative, highly engaged entities – that are keen to develop customer solutions in different markets and under different conditions.
And many of those ideas and experiences have significant value for other parts of the Group. So we have a regional transformation teams that works closely with local transformation teams to share ideas, solutions and often even talent in order to bring great ideas to the wider Group.
We work hard to attract the right talent with a collaborative mindset to allow good work to be replicated quickly and cost-effectively. This diverse culture of inclusion, innovation and trust we foster enables us to build strong teams to drive mindset change.
Are there technical challenges with integrating those ideas and capabilities into the Group?
Over the past 5 years, we put significant effort into creating a strong centralised core in Asia with a common set of administration systems and common practices that has provided us with a very strong platform upon which to drive future growth across the region.
And we did this while also achieving our 5-year goals of increased delivery in earnings across both our lines of businesses in the region. It was a massive accomplishment but also one shows that our vision is strong and our ability to grow through disruption is resilient.