“No bank or insurance company can afford to disregard digital channels,” says Dorien van der Linden, marketing manager at Virtual Affairs. Virtual Affairs is a one-stop shop for companies in finance and insurance who want trans-formative digital experiences, offering a full suite of products and services that create engaging customer journeys. Last week, we sat down with Van der Linden to talk about what makes Virtual Affairs unique, the customer experience landscape, and tech.
Modus Operandi: Customer Centricity
“We focus on the customer of our customer. We bring it back to what consumers need,” says Van der Linden, qualifying the statement with, “We have a professional candidness that companies appreciate. We’re always honest about what we know will or won’t work for them.”
Virtual Affairs specialises in giving institutions in finance and insurance that crucial digital customer experience. They deliver services like GDPR and accessibility workshops and mobile, website, and portal development, and UX design. The company also provides three comprehensive software solutions: BankingRight; InsuranceRight; and InvestmentRight. Virtual Affairs leverages its experience in banking and insurance with the technical know-how to make ideas work.
Currently, their most popular offerings are their InsuranceRight product and their GDPR workshop, the latter of which is tailored specifically to digital engagement for banks and insurers, and gives a practical translation of the regulation. The organisation has also released a whitepaper on the GDPR.
What’s the Deal with Digital Experiences?
In this day and age, digital, and especially mobile, products are a must for financial institutions and insurance companies. An important part of why they are so critical is due to customer expectations. “The modern consumer expects every insurer and bank to have great online solutions for almost all services provided by the company,” Van der Linden says. These online and digital solutions need to fit into a boarder technical ecosystem, a task with which many companies struggle, and at the same time be part of omnichannel propositions that cover offline interactions. Virtual Affairs does not design these offline interaction experiences but does take them into consideration when tailoring their products to fit the needs of financial institutions and insurers.
In designing these digital ecosystems that are part of omnichannel solutions, Van der Linden says companies need to keep three things in mind: consistency of brand identity; client needs; and compliance. “Our experience in these areas is our greatest asset,” says Van der Linden.
AI and the Digital Banking and Insurance Experience: Key to Customer Engagement
“Imagine you’re stranded on the road and you’ve just had a car accident,” say Van der Linden, “You have your phone with you and you want everything to be solved as quickly as possible. Do you want to spend your time filling out checklists and forms?”, she asks. Insurance customers in this situation want to know what they’re covered for and when/where they can receive assistance, “and this is where AI and conversational UI can really help, because it can be used in existing channels like Facebook or WhatsApp to bring a human-like customer experience at all times of the day and night without someone being present and available 24/7,” says van der Linden. In fact, Virtual Affairs is experimenting with chatbots for its insurance products to aid claims and they have also released a whitepaper on chatbots in the insurance industry.
Mobile and AI, Van der Linden says, give insurance companies the ability to provide context to situations, like in the above example of a motorist being stranded on the side of the road after an accident, giving people all they need to get the help they need in that particular situation. Here, part of the function of employing digital means is to also make space for human interaction and empathy in the event of a stressful situation, delaying more procedural processes like paperwork until a more appropriate time.
As far as banking is concerned, Van der Linden says that one of many added values of AI is that it can be to used to better understand customer behaviour. For example, if a customer has a portfolio, AI can monitor their portfolio behaviour and predict what type of products they would be interested in and make suggestions on follow-up steps to actions taken. “AI can drastically increase client satisfaction and cross-sell opportunities,” she says.
Back to the Future
In this world of growing automation, digital already has the ability to replace many human-based interactions, concludes Van der Linden. In the future, human interaction will only appear where it “provides added value in terms of an emotional element,” she says, adding, “the human involvement in standardised actions based on predefined rules will ultimately disappear”. This growing digitisation should keep Virtual Affairs very busy for the foreseeable future.
By Elliot Lyons, Research Analyst