4 min read
What's empathy got to do with it? Quite a lot actually. Here's why your empathy could be your most underrated asset.
Are you helping insurance companies introduce insurtech?
If so, you are in a unique position. You are standing on the border between one of the oldest industries in the world - one of swathes of blue suits and towering buildings - and one of the youngest: insurtech, where technology and insurance come together.
When insurtech first burst onto the scene in January 2016, in large part because of StartupBootCamp, it posed a unique opportunity. It held the potential not only to change the world of insurance for the better, but also create a more inclusive, empathetic industry.The tech industry as a whole had promised something similar, yet today there is an enormous lack of women in the sector and STEM - even in 2018.
Insurtech has the potential to be something new - to fight on a new frontier.
Involvement in London-based communities such as InsTech London, led by Paolo Cuomo, and Tech Talks, hosted by David Savage, have shown sustained discussion about diversity and inclusion from the city's tech leaders - including insights from Phoebe Hugh, CEO and co-founder of Brolly.
For an industry to truly make its mark on the world, it must be led by empathetic leaders. This interesting article from 'way back when' (2013) adds this element of 'emotional intelligence', humbleness and effective leadership to gender inequality in leadership roles.
Whether you are exploring artificial intelligence, chatbots or even voice for your business, here are three ways empathy is essential. And it may even be a life-saver.
The Spixiifiers at Plexal
1. Empathise with your end customer.
In a tech world without empathy, technology is designed in a boardroom in an office far, far away. But if there is one thing we have learnt - from our story, the BIBA hackathon, and these books on customer development - is this. Step outside and talk to people.
When starting the product development process, imagine the struggles of the customer and - if possible - try to feel their pain. Then reflect on your own experiences. When you last bought insurance, how did the experience make you feel? Were you frustrated, stressed or pleasantly surprised? Using this as a personal starting point, widen out. Do the people around you share your experiences? Through user testing, you can validate or invalidate your personal hypotheses.
Matteo, Spixii's UX designer, describes this process as an example of the "continuous progression towards the perfect customer experience, carried through by empathy". The customer development testing sessions carried out with clients are one of the most loved elements of the Discovery and Prototyping packages - something that continues to be incorporated today.
With a thorough understanding of your customer problem and in-depth user testing, your technology will be far better placed to meet KPIs and add value to your business's bottom line.
2. Innovate around problems and people, not technology.
From a high-level, innovation is centred on finding new ways to engage with your customers and step closer to them through analytics. Our chatbot solution is designed to build a bridge between insurance companies and their customers. To do this, empathy is crucial.
This can be seen in a recent award-winning project in claims. Our client saw that their customers wanted to file non-emergency claims outside of working hours, and reduce their time waiting on hold. The chatbot was developed around this problem, and provided a user-friendly solution with more than 75% Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Matteo believes we achieved this NPS thanks to our client and Spixii committing early on to user testing. The initial product was tested on a group of 20 individuals. Their comments varied widely from internal feedback.
"Embrace the challenges that can arise if others, whether team members or testers, have views that differ dramatically from yours. It is easier to empathise with like-minded people, but we must break out of that confirmation bias. Instead of taking things for granted, take a step back and see innovation from a different angle. Once you do this, your design will be more than what you wanted. It will be a greater vision that works for everyone."
3. Build empathy into your internal culture.
Empathising with your end-customer when implementing innovation is key to success. We have seen it time and time again with our clients, and now believe it to be one of our most important values.
Empathy does not stop there though.
You can use empathy internally to empower and strengthen your teams. For Sid the Sloth, it's the "gooey, sticky stuff that holds us together". For Star Wars fans, it's the force that "binds the galaxy together".
In a startup/scale-up like Spixii, you can see this gooey, sticky stuff in schemes like open and honest 1:1s.
Since the beginning of 2018, we started to formalise these once a week between team members. At first, an hour felt like a huge investment for a small team with a lot to do. Yet this, combined with two daily huddle meetings at 9:09 and 5:25 on the dot to align, has transformed the way we work.
The routine of reporting your top priority of the day helps you focus, and also look ahead for any potential 'blockers'. It also means you can quickly identify things that might become pinch-points before they become problems, empathise with team-members and help wherever possible.
This approach saw the first quarter of 2018 surpass the whole of 2017 in innovation, productivity, employee alignment and (yes, even) revenue.
Ultimately, if we are going to create a world that is 100% insured, we need to understand each other and know what is worth protecting. With empathy, our innovations, technology and people will be richer and more inclusive.
Thus, far from a soft asset, empathy is everything. The last question left is: how will you use it?
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