Jun 2019

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Customer loyalty-oriented management through digital transformation

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Feb 2017

CSC was afforded the valuable opportunity to interview Mr Yutaka Hashiramoto, Director of Saison Automobile & Fire Insurance Co Ltd, about the challenges he faces as a leader of the insurance company’s system services, as well as his outlook on the company’s IT strategy and the non-life insurance market. Read on for a summary of the interview.
  • Saison aims to be a digital-leading company through the proactive use of digital technologies in its business model focused on direct marketing;
  • To meet the expectations of new customers, Saison plans to promote further support services for accident prevention and safe driving with a strong focus on quality customer-contact services through applications; and
  • Saison will proactively conduct research and development activities and implement trial applications with speed while promoting digitalisation with the support of the SOMPO Group’s experience and resources.
CSC: Mr Hashiramoto, can you please tell us about your role and how it supports Saison’s business?
Since April 2016, I’ve been overseeing the Market Department (sales development and market planning) and the Operations Department (operations and planning) in addition to the System Department. So, my current role is to see things from the perspective of both business and systems and bring about optimal solutions. 
   As the business and system functions sometimes have conflicting opinions on the execution/achievement of strategy and on planning, I make efforts to coordinate them to produce the best possible cooperation among those functions. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve the company’s business goals and to this end, I think I am expected to navigate optimally along this journey by coordinating both of these perspectives. With the demands on IT from the business side ever increasing in recent years in terms of quantity, quality and speed, I am constantly faced, as a navigator, with challenges and difficulties these 
   We aim to be a digital-leading company through the proactive use of digital technologies in our business model focused on direct marketing. We would like to encourage many potential customers to visit our websites by posting easy-to-understand messages, underwrite insurance policies for many such potential customers, provide reliable and satisfying services to existing policyholders and thereby retain such policies for as long as possible. 
   We will promote system planning and execution as a company-wide initiative in conformance with Saison’s management policies: (1) providing and proposing comfortable customer experiences; (2) the thorough pursuit of convenience through digitalisation; and (3) the establishment of a sustainable business foundation as a direct insurance company.
CSC: What is Saison’s outlook for the non-life insurance market in Japan?
Our core product is automobile insurance. Saison’s share in the entire direct automobile insurance market is around 7% (7.4% in FY2015) and the growth rate has not been as substantial as expected. 
   The latest growth rate of the entire automobile insurance market is about 3%, whereas it is 7% for the direct insurance market. While we are essentially competing for the share in the limited automobile insurance market, the ratio of the direct insurance market in it is expected to reach 10% in FY2020, and we see a substantial potential for us to increase our share in the market. 
   In this kind of market situation, new automobile insurance packages that include support services for accident prevention and safe driving using technologies such as IoT are emerging, which means insurance products themselves are gradually changing. We are determined to remain competitive to survive fierce competition.
CSC: Digitalisation has completely changed the dynamics of customer engagement. How is Saison gearing up to meet the ever-evolving expectations of customers?
We launched the Tsunagaru Button & App (Figure 1) in November 2016 as a new Internet of things (IoT) service to provide customers peace of mind and safety with the underlying concept of “You can connect anytime in an emergency.” 
   This is only the starting point of our journey to meet the expectations of new customers and we plan to promote further support services for accident prevention and safe driving with a strong focus on quality customer-contact services through applications. 
   In regards to the future competition of products and services, I think we should remain in constant contact with customers and continue to provide comfortable customer experiences at each contact point so that we may continuously evolve. In my opinion, digitalisation is essential in surpassing competitors and improving the basis of operations, such as with efficiency and quality, which are an important part of digitalisation; and its true purpose is to increase customer loyalty. 
   If only to fulfil the three management policies I mentioned earlier, we should focus on customer loyalty-oriented management in the future. From this point of view, as of January 2011, our policyholders are approaching 600,000 in less than six years from the launch of Otona no Jidosha Hoken and we have set the goal of having one million policyholders by FY2019. 
   We appreciate the great number of existing policyholders and recognise the critical importance of continuing to fulfil expectations from those customers, and even providing comfortable customer experiences beyond their expectations so that we may increase customer loyalty. 
   To achieve this, the entire organisation must transform to fully implement customer loyalty-oriented management, and for this kind of transformation, we need to get to know our customers better. So, we will work to gain various insights from the analyses of massive amounts of data, actual customer experiences at each customer contact point (Web, call centre and accident claim reception, etc), and customer experiences at competitors, etc; and, then use such insights for the management of better quality and to maximise our marketing effectiveness. 
   We do need to increase the value of our customer experiences by improving overall services and products, but providing one-to-one, personalised services is imperative to staying competitive and increasing customer loyalty, considering that our competitors, such as Amazon and Rakuten, already offer their customers this value; this competition requires us to offer at least an equivalent level of services to our customers.
   Digitalisation is a very effective means of strengthening customer relationships. Saison, aiming to be a digital leading company, sees data analysis capabilities as a critical source of corporate competitiveness in the digital age; in other words, excellence in such capabilities is an essential ingredient of successful digitalisation. 
   In the digital age, where changes take place rapidly, development of a PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle using data analysis as a core function is important for continuous improvement of corporate strategies and we put a priority on the journey toward it. 
   The launch of the Tsunagaru Button & App is the starting point of this journey. In order to ensure constant customer contact, which has not been sufficient in our practices, we will make focused efforts to grasp the actual customer experience value through techniques, including data analysis, and provide better services by optimal means. Going forward, we will expand and evolve such commitment further by using digital technologies in order to continuously offer innovative services.
CSC: Please tell us about the current challenges you face as a business leader in pursuit of Saison’s strategic goals?
To drive greater digitalisation, we need to boost communication across systems and owner departments, and build organisational capabilities to allow for the flexible transfer of responsibilities between them. Also, the establishment of an ecosystem with the active use of external resources, as well as information gathering and partnerships in various aspects, are essential to achieve the desired changes in a timely manner. In this respect, the enhancement of digital sensitivity and partnering capability of both departments should be among our top priorities. 
   In the case of business functions in particular, a substantial leap in data analysis capabilities is required as the basis to guide digital strategies. I believe the shift to data-driven operations will be a critical prerequisite for loyalty-driven management and greater digitalization.
CSC: At Saison, what are your plans to leverage technology innovation towards business transformation and growth?
To improve service quality at each routine customer contact point through the Tsunagaru Button & App, we see potential in technology, such as IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI). To keep pace with the speed of digitalisation and ride the wave of innovation, we have to establish an ecosystem involving external partners. 
   To be a true digital leading company, Saison will proactively conduct research and development activities and implement trial applications with speed while promoting digitalisation with the support of the SOMPO Group’s experience and resources. To this end, we first need to release our new IoT service Tsunagaru Button & App, announced on 28 November 2016, to lay the foundation of our future success.
CSC: Please share with us your experience of partnering with CSC.
CSC has kindly provided us with very strong support in the field of Systems of Record (SoR) based on their packaged suite, Integral. 
   As we were forced to build systems at a fever pitch, they worked closely with us to solve many problems, and I feel that this opportunity has helped to substantially grow the members of both Saison and CSC. 
   In the future, we have full expectations of CSC making contributions to the field of Systems of Engagement (SoE), while they continue to support our mission-critical systems. As SoE requires quick growth and development, the needed skills and know-how of employees and our operational methods must also change. Accordingly, there will be an abundance of opportunities where we can grow together with CSC, and I would like to continue this partnership with CSC in the future.
About Saison Automobile & Fire Insurance Co Ltd
Saison Automobile & Fire Insurance (‘Saison’) is a direct non-life insurance company of the SOMPO Holdings Group offering Otona no Jidosha Hoken automobile insurance as its leading product.
   Otona no Jidosha Hoken is recognised primarily among people in their 40s and 50s – a demographic group with a rate of lower accidents – as cost-effective insurance for its distinctive insurance rate settings based on age-specific accident rates that are calculated each year.
   As part of its commitment to enhance support for accident prevention and safe driving, the insurer started a new service, ALSOK Reliable Accident Site Support Service, in April 2016, and launched the Tsunagaru Button & App in November 2016. Saison has been employing the latest digital technologies to provide new services and functions.
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