Conference season is upon us. Last week, the microinsurance sector met in Lima for the 13th International Microinsurance Conference. At the same time, the Mastercard Foundation held its 5th Symposium on Financial Inclusion in Accra. The Mastercard Foundation Symposium celebrates organisations that put clients at the centre and is a great barometer of where the financial inclusion sector is positioned with customer centricity. While customer centricity was on the agenda in Lima and microinsurance was discussed in Accra, I am still looking forward to the first dedicated meeting on customer centricity in microinsurance.
Customer centricity in microinsurance
Microinsurance is ultimately about providing insurance solutions that offer risk protection to low-income people, supporting them in their struggle and providing a buffer against potential crisis and disaster. We have probably all observed the introduction of products that are designed from behind a desk, based on the most profitable insurance products around. They often fail because they are not focused on the specific and unique needs of low-income people.
Customer-centric approaches are therefore critical to further advancing microinsurance. This requires a profound understanding of customer needs, based on qualitative and quantitative insights in order to design customer-oriented solutions. Let’s not forget that, for many low-income households, their first microinsurance policy will be their first experience with any type of insurance and it will shape their perceptions of insurance into the future. The responsibility we bear on our shoulders to make this first impression a good one is therefore considerable.
By making microinsurance thrive, we will attract more insurers and intermediaries to reach the three billion poor worldwide.
Customer centricity: great potential and big challenges
In its Customer-Centric Guide, CGAP identifies five pillars of customer-centric financial service providers. These include committed leadership and a customer-focused culture; operations focused on customers; and employees empowered to provide positive customer experiences.
While few people in the sector will doubt the need for more customer centricity, the following infographic from the Mastercard Foundation Symposium demonstrates the difficulties in walking the talk.
Customer centricity has already leveraged important results in microinsurance:
● Bima won the first MasterCard Client at the Centre award in 2015;
● MicroEnsure has been praised for their customer centric work; and
● Pioneer Insurance was a key contributor to CGAPs recent Customer-Centric Guide with a series of concrete tips on how to approach it.
But there are far more great experiences out there and many more lessons to be learnt. As a sector, we need to bring these lessons to the fore, to inspire each other in further embracing customer-centric techniques and best practices. Ultimately this will help us to better respond to the needs of our clients and create a more robust foundation for the microinsurance sector in general. The demand for adapted risk-reduction solutions is huge and still largely unmet. The potential is too great for us NOT to act by further developing more customer-centric approaches.
So when do we meet?
Bert Opdebeeck is founder of Microinsurance Master, a comprehensive 10-week microinsurance leadership programme. The programme starts in February 2018 with a 2-week immersion training at Pioneer Microinsurance in the Philippines, mostly out of the classroom. Next, participants will receive 8 weeks of tailored coaching by industry leaders to get the training takeaways kickstarted back home. Learn more on www.microinsurancemaster.org
Photo source: Mastercard Foundation (link)