Zipcast Episode 28: Digital Transformation in Insurance and Beyond with Laura Drabik

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Many industries are currently experiencing rapid digital transformation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this process. On this episode, we speak with Laura Drabik, chief evangelist at insurtech powerhouse Guidewire. She has her finger on the pulse of digital trends in the insurance industry. Laura’s perspective on customer communication, engagement and automation is bound to resonate with almost every business.

Featuring

Laura Drabik
Chief Evangelist, Guidewire
Scott Heimes
Chief Marketing Officer

Scott Heimes:

Welcome to the Zipcast, where we talk about the latest trends in texting for business, customer communication strategies, and technology. I’m your host, Scott Heimes, chief marketing officer at Zipwhip. And thanks for tuning in. So many industries are currently experiencing rapid digital transformation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this process. Today we speak with Laura Drabik, the chief evangelist at insurtech powerhouse, Guidewire. She has her finger on the pulse of digital trends in the insurance industry. Her perspective on customer communication, engagement, and automation is bound to resonate with almost every business. Stick around to learn more about digital transformation in the insurance industry.

Scott Heimes:

Welcome to the Zipcast, Laura.

Laura Drabik:

Thank you for having me, Scott.

Scott Heimes:

So excited to have you on the show today. I’m looking forward to talking about digital transformation in the insurance industry. So Laura, you’re the chief evangelist at Guidewire. Tell us what Guidewire is all about and what you do there as a chief evangelist.

Laura Drabik:

So Guidewire, house, property, and casualty insurers revolutionize how they serve their consumers through our platform. I’ve been with Guidewire now for close to, gosh, 15 years. I joined pre IPO. So I know our story because I was a part of the journey to post IPO success story. Okay. Now, to get to your question, what does a chief evangelist do? I am privileged to tell our story. I get to talk to carriers about how our industry is evolving and how our solutions empower them to capitalize upon those new opportunities.

Scott Heimes:

Got it. And folks on the line should think about Guidewire as really kind of the preeminent CRM in the P&C insurance space. Is that a fair way to think about it? And then you’ve evolved into all kinds of different solutions and capabilities that help insurers engage their customers, innovate more quickly, and drive growth for their businesses as I understand it.

Laura Drabik:

Well, we first of all started in the claims space. So we are enabling carriers to revolutionize how they initially first managed claims processing for their consumers. And then we evolved into policy as well as billing and then into digital as well as data. So we really have the insurance life cycle managed both the behind the scenes transactions as well as those transactions that interact with the consumer.

Scott Heimes:

Yeah. Got it. So Guidewire is one of our partners and we’ve collaborated with you on a really tight integration with our texting capabilities into your claim center. How’s that been going so far?

Laura Drabik:

Wonderful. We are privileged to have you as a partner, especially what’s been happening during the pandemic, having you has really helped to connect our carriers with their consumers better and then also back to the Guidewire solution. So we’re really privileged to have you as a partner.

Scott Heimes:

We feel the same way. By coincidence, actually this week, both Guidewire and Zipwhip hosted completely different online conferences on the same days. How about that? I see that you gave one of the keynotes at your conference called Connections Re-imagined. How did it go? What were some of the key takeaways from it?

Laura Drabik:

So, first of all, congratulations on your conference. I know how hard and how much work it takes to get one of those across the goal line. So congratulations.

Scott Heimes:

Thank you.

Laura Drabik:

I had the pleasure, Scott, of presenting three keynotes, it was a pleasure and a privilege. And based upon the audience chats that were live streaming across my screen, I think the key takeaways were Guidewire is the partner carriers trusted to handle their mission critical business operations. Two, Guidewire is also the solution that carriers can innovate with. And then lastly, we’re here for the long haul and we will continue to be there to help our customers navigate through a swiftly evolving landscape.

Scott Heimes:

Yeah. Well, that evolving landscape is exactly what I wanted to talk about today. Digital transformation trends. I’d like to sort of start with a 30,000 foot view. What’s your sense of how the industry is changing over the past several years? And what has that meant for the evolution of digital engagement, which is really at the core of this transformation?

Laura Drabik:

I love our millennials because the millennial generation is serving as a catalyst for change across all industries, including our own. As you probably know that the first digital native generation, they’re completely comfortable with using tech. They have digital service expectation spurred from using Amazon, Netflix, and Google. And it’s really raised the digital bar on our carriers. So consumers expect personalized and simplified insurance processing via digital omni-channels. And when you look at the innovative value, perhaps that new entrance, like insurtechs that brought to our industry, they leverage digital. For example, visual based estimating, chatbots, and of course, integrated text messaging.

Scott Heimes:

Yeah, that’s what I love [inaudible 00:05:30]. So how about the pandemic? How has that affected or accelerated digital transformation in the insurance space?

Laura Drabik:

I was reading an article from McKinsey and I have to quote them because it’s really befitting here. “Since COVID, digital has volted five years forward in a matter of months.” So we are seeing a faster uptake of digital solutions and it’s born completely out of necessity. Take digital documents, mail and file units weren’t operating during the pandemic. Many of our carriers were not accepting paper. So out of necessity, carriers accelerated their Guidewire portal work, which included digital docs. And we had carriers go from processing millions of pieces of paper a year down to zero.

Laura Drabik:

Also, integrated text messaging, consumers needed reassurance and direction from their carrier during the lockdown. Excuse me, text messaging solutions like Zipwhip, when it’s integrated to Guidewire allows carriers to push out updates and notifications to keep the consumer connected and reassured.

Scott Heimes:

And you think about the policy holder’s lifecycle of communication between the carrier, the agent, and the consumer, texting just offer some really unique advantages. Doesn’t it? It just allows for that immediacy of response, it drives a higher level of engagement and response, and it has some real business impact as well in terms of reducing cycle times and increasing customer satisfaction.

Laura Drabik:

I couldn’t agree more with you. I think some of the areas that you hit on are just dead on correct.

Scott Heimes:

So what’s the importance of the human to human connection in that communication experience, right? That’s one of the advantages that texting offers is that one-to-one human to human connection versus the experience that you face in automation or AI, there’s place for that for sure, but what’s your thoughts about the sort of value of the human to human conversational experience that happens via text?

Laura Drabik:

I think it’s incredibly important to keep both the end consumer and the carrier employee really tightly integrated and connected. One of the trends that I’ve noticed is that, and what we’re doing is really automating low manual redundant activities to free up the human so that they can focus on really delivering compassionate concierge service. So what’s really incredibly important is that you can use text messaging as a way to deliver empathetic service through an automated fashion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the human behind the carrier delivering it, but then it frees up that human to do what only a human can do, which is deliver empathy as well as intelligent serving to the consumer.

Scott Heimes:

So if you think across your customer base, what are some of the more impactful business changes that some of your customers have made to accelerate digital transformation? We’ve talked about texting as an important part of that, adding to your arsenal with communication tools, but what are some of the other things that businesses are doing to accelerate that digital transformation to meet that millennial where they want to be?

Laura Drabik:

So you’ll have to keep in mind that I’ve spent the last 14 years working for Guidewire. And what we do is we replace legacy applications. So my answer is going to reflect this or reflect that. But to accelerate digital and provide omni-channel Amazon-like service, our customers replace their legacy systems of record with a modern solution like Guidewire. So our platform forms the foundation that carriers can then use to build digital services onto like Zipwhip, which integrates to Guidewire. Another thing I’m noticing our carriers do is create and establish digital factories. You want to launch new digital ideas without the constraints of the parent organization, digital factories are the way to do that.

Laura Drabik:

And then the third and final top theme I’m seeing from our carriers is that they’re hiring experienced digital talent. You need the right talent to be able to create a digital mindset. And many of our carriers are hiring from outside our industry, for example, from retail. So they get digital knowledge experts with new refreshing ideas.

Scott Heimes:

Those are great recommendations. How about business impact? How are you seeing some of your customers measure the business value impact of digital transformation?

Laura Drabik:

I think it really depends upon the nature of the digital initiative. For example, if it’s getting a new digital line of business to market, carriers will measure GWP or DWP. If it’s a digital claims initiative, they use customer satisfaction scores and PS scores, and social media impressions. Some might also leverage claim metrics like improvements in claim closure times.

Scott Heimes:

Got it. Those all sound good. How about the future? If you look forward into time, where is digital transformation going in your mind? When do we feel like we’ve transformed and we’re operating under a digital mindset through and through?

Laura Drabik:

I think that we are actually probably there now, meaning that consumers, when I say we, I mean consumers are there now where they’re expecting digital omni-channel service. It’s the industry that needs to catch up with their expectations. So some of perhaps my recommendations for carriers is get that modern platform like Guidewire implemented so that you can build onto your digital strategy and have that one objective source of truth of all customer information that’s coming through. And then also keep connected, keep connected to thought leaders that are outside your industry and bring that knowledge in.

Scott Heimes:

Hey Laura, one last thing. I saw that you are on the board of directors for Girls in Tech. Can you tell us a little bit about what that organization is striving to do?

Laura Drabik:

Well, thank you for asking. And it is a wonderful organization. And the objective or goal is to help support women through all stages of life that are working within the technology sector. Scott, this is such a timely question right now because with the collapse of the childcare sector due to COVID-19 and drastic reductions in school supervision hours, this could drive millions of working women out of the paid labor force or workforce. So what we try to do is give them the support, the education to help get them through, and then also advance their careers in tech.

Scott Heimes:

Oh, that sounds like a worthy effort. So they run conferences, do programs. What are some of the activities and structure that they do to help women advance in the tech industry?

Laura Drabik:

We do. We do all of those things that you just mentioned. We have a 6,000 attendee conference every September. It’s gone virtual right now to best support women and men attend as well during the pandemic. We have virtual hackathons, virtual mentorship programs. I would highly recommend if there’s a woman listening to this or a man who wants to support women in our industry, please log onto girlsintech.org.

Scott Heimes:

Got it. Well, Laura, that’s a great way to end our podcast today, and we’ll make sure we include that link in our notes. And thanks so much for joining us today on the Zipcast.

Laura Drabik:

Thank you for having me.

Scott Heimes:

Thanks for joining us. Ever wondered how email compares to text when it comes to customer communication? We do too. So we commissioned a survey. You can check out the fascinating results at zipwhip.com/email-ebook. Make sure you subscribe to the Zipcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen so you can get the latest episodes. Feel free to text us with topics you’d like to hear about or other feedback for the show. Just send a text to 347-772-3529. Until next time.

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