Oct 2020

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Protecting customers post-pandemic

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Aug 2020

Focus efforts on inspiring consumer trust, understanding their needs and digitising the customer experience.
Dimitris Mazarakis, SVP and General Manager, MetLife Gulf 
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world as we know it. Virtually overnight, nations were closed off, citizens were told to shelter in place indefinitely, and entire industries were put on pause as the world worked to navigate the worst public health crisis in generations. When the pandemic ultimately subsides, tomorrow’s world will look quite different from what it did just a few short months ago. 
As economies around the world start to reopen cautiously, the pandemic is catalysing change in how industries – insurance included – adapt to their customers’ evolving needs. As insurers, this is fundamental for us since we are entrusted with safeguarding our customers’ health and well-being. 
At MetLife, we have focused our efforts on embracing these inevitable changes and reinventing our business model to adapt better and support our customers as they navigate the new normal. To achieve that, we focus our efforts on inspiring consumer trust, understanding our customers, and digitising the customer experience.  
The current pandemic has brought insurance to the forefront of consumers’ minds. Individuals that may have never considered insurance before are now beginning to open up to the idea, and we need to ensure that we fully understand their needs, given the new environment. 
As a customer-focused organisation, we have been learning about our customers for more than 150 years, studying socio-economic trends, and listening to their feedback to meet their evolving needs. Our dedication to helping customers lead confident, enriched, and healthier lives has withstood and outlasted the other significant challenges of our time. Consequently, to ensure that we reliably meet our customers’ ever-evolving needs, we continue to carry out customer feedback surveys that provide us with valuable insights for much higher product customisation, and guidance on how to improve our value proposition.  
Consumer awareness and trust 
In light of the current COVID-19 environment, a heightened need for customer value and transparency is critical to establishing consumer awareness and trust. In this regard, MetLife welcomes the UAE Insurance Authority’s new life insurance regulation that comes into effect on 15 October. This regulation, which is focused on increasing value and transparency for customers, will transform the market positively and empower insurers in the region to operate in a more transparent and customer-focused manner. 
At MetLife, we are well prepared to implement the new changes and look forward to working closely with our partners to ensure adherence to the highest standards.
Digital demand 
Since the pandemic, we have been witnessing a shift in consumer behaviour with increased demand for remote and digital processes and transactions. Thus, there needs to be an accelerated approach towards digitalisation and remote processes across many industries, including insurance and financial services. 
However, face-to-face interactions will still be necessary in some cases, especially in our region, as customers’ adoption of digital interactions continues to evolve. 
At MetLife, we have fast-tracked our digital transformation and enhanced our digital processes and servicing options so our policyholders can access their policies from wherever they are. We have equipped our agents and brokers with remote-friendly tools to allow them to observe all regulations and ensure that customers get the answers they need with speed and accuracy. 
Focusing on customers, safeguarding employee health, and providing support to help those impacted by COVID-19 has served as a powerful reminder for just how essential our sector is to those who depend on us. While the sheer amount of disruption, loss, and uncertainty that the world’s population has been forced to endure is truly unprecedented, our industry can help each one of our customers to get back on track. Tackling new challenges, providing essential relief, and allowing people to protect their future are some reasons why our industry exists in the first place. 
No matter how the pandemic plays out, customers must remain at the forefront of our industry. Answering questions quickly, providing prompt service, and paying out claims as soon as possible is not just good business practice – it’s the right thing to do. M 
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