FWD has had a digital transformation. iFWD rose to become the number 1 direct and digital distribution channel, capturing 32% market share and selling HK$100M in Life APE. It aims to continue to lead while driving development in FinTech innovation at FWD and in the overall market.
To shake up the staid Hong Kong insurance sector FWD tore up the traditional industry playbook. Out went ‘stone age’ thinking, processes, collaboration and products. In their place the company built iFWD, a disruptive ecommerce platform that married the latest in financial innovation with cutting-edge technological application.
The iFWD revolution started internally with new ways of thinking, new products, development and engagement. It delivered anonline experience that made insurance fun, simple and relevant to peoples’ changing lives.
The results were stellar. From June 2015 – June 2016: 8 products for sale on iFWD; 20,000 policies issued; 1.3M visits to the website; life APE sales of HK$100M; and HK$600M in premium income. In Q1 2016, iFWD became the market leader with 32% market share.
But the real disruption was in the minds of Hong Kong people. In May 2016, a Clusters quantitative market survey found thatthey ranked the company first in categories ranging from ‘innovative’ to ‘refreshing’. iFWDtruly succeeded in using technology to change the way people felt about insurance.
How tech enables FWD’s internal processes
To disrupt the Hong Kong insurance market, FWDknew it had to first disruptitself. So it discardedthe linear, inside-out product development process. In its place itimplemented an organic, agile approach that drew on the wisdom of the crowd.
For business intelligence it leveraged the cutting-edge artificial intelligence of IBM WatsonAnalytics. For testing it collected data via Chalkmark, axure RP and Survey Monkey; and for optimization it turned to Google Analytics and Visual Website Optimizer.
iFWD then went further, adopting the latest engagement tools to enable digital interactions throughout the customer journey. FWD was the first insurance company in Hong Kong to launchLiveChat, bridging the digital online experience with offline human connection. FWD’s 24/7 hotline allowspotential customers to interact with the company whenever and wherever they wanted. The iFWD online platform and mobile app gave people full control of their policies on the move. Lodging certain digitally-enabled claimswas simple thanks to the e-services app. And customers were kept informed of the latest offers through regular eDMs& customer newsletters –all backed by state-of-art CRM tools.
Collaboration with agencies, brokers and internal staff
The new technological tools and processes weresupported by a reshaped culture and organization.
iFWDwas set up as an internal disrupter, mimicking a FinTech start up. It rejected a top-down hierarchy in favour of a flat, bottom-up structure. It pulled in people with diverse backgrounds and experiences – and gave them permission to take calculated risks. They were empowered to fail fast and learn fast. These learnings were shared within the company and exported to other FWD markets.
iFWDwas far from a standalone unit. It fully integrated with FWD’s 2,000 agents, 50 telemarketing customer services representatives and 6 insurance solution centres. This delivered a seamless online to offline experience for customers and potential customers. Interested visitors could complete the DIY insurance application process online or get offline services by requesting to meet an agent, a call from our customer service representative or an appointment at our insurance solution center.
FWD gave agents FAPP, a mobile app that enabled them to provide a fully digital experience for customers. With FAPP, agents could conduct the online financial needs analysis (FNA) and create and send electronic proposals. FAPP shortened the underwriting process with automated checks that ensured the accuracy of required data.
iFWD also used technology to deliver effective cross-industry partnerships. Connecting to partner platforms via APIs, iFWD offered special discounts, customized offers, product bundling and rewards via point redemption. Partners included Ocean Park, Agoda, The Club, CSLSony, Cathay Pacific and CfuCome.
Building the iFWD platform
The iFWD platform was a world away from the traditional insurance experience. It was a mobile-first, responsive HTML site that reinvented every stage of the customer journey.
Hard-to-understand commercials and collaterals were replaced with a simple e-commerce website and targeted, tailored digital marketing. Customers were able to skip the intermediary and get online FNA and 24 hour support. Rather than filling out reams of paperwork, they couldbuy general insurance products in just a few clicks. iFWDwas also the first in market to offer a flexible universal life product, Savie, online.
The iFWD experience adapted over time. The site UX was enhanced every 14 days through ongoing A/B testing with an aim to optimize conversion rates. To decrease time to market, iFWD used the latest automated testing technology,speeding up testing and reducing potential human error by testers.
Digital marketing and tailored targeting presented relevant products to match people’s needs. From launch, general insurance sales have increased 460%. Ad optimization has lowered initial marketing costs by 50%.
Overcoming regulatory and compliance challenges
A forerunner in the development of digital insurance, iFWD worked closely with the regulator, OCI, to explore new ways of selling insurance online. Together, they addressed a variety of compliance and sales practice issues like anti-fraud and anti-money laundering measures.
With full support and guidance from OCI, iFWD set out to create a new way of selling insurance. Offline FNA’s consist of boring forms.iFWD envisioned an engaging, visual and interactiveprocess with fun, simple UX and no intermediaries. With OCI, iFWD wrote compliance into the code, becoming the first insurance company in Hong Kong to launch a fully online FNA and product recommendation engine. This facilitated Savie, a fully online life insurance application.
FWD’s overall competitive advantage and growth
iFWD is now a core competency for FWD. Its flat structure allows quick turnaround and decisions, and has reduced the new product development lifecycle to just 1 month. The learn fast, fail fast culture it created spurred the internal agility needed to cater to rapidly changing customer needs.
With the first mover advantage, iFWD rose to become the number 1 direct and digital distribution channel, capturing 32% market share and selling HK$100Min Life APE. It aims to continue to lead while driving development in FinTech innovation at FWD and in the overall market.