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SA insurance industry leads in favourable consumer sentiment

Published Oct 7, 2023


SA insurance industry outperforms banking, retail and telecommunications for net sentiment, according to the South African Insurance Sentiment Index report.

For the third consecutive year, PwC South Africa has collaborated with DataEQ to benchmark consumer sentiment towards 15 of South Africa's major insurers.

These findings were detailed in the firm's newly released South African Insurance Sentiment Index report which analysed over 530 000 public non-enterprise social media mentions for the period of April 1, 2022 to March 31 this year.

The insurance industry has outperformed banking (9.4%), retail (3.3%), and telecommunications (-14.0%) for the Net Sentiment as it achieved a ranking of 16.1% to set the benchmark.

This was as some insurers demonstrated savvy use of social media to drive positive sentiment, a factor attributed largely to an increase in Hellopeter compliments and educational campaigns.

This year, the industry achieved a score of 16.1%, marking consistent growth from 6.8% in last year and -0.4% in 2021. MiWay maintained its spot atop the performance rankings, registering a Net Sentiment of 73.3%.

The report said the influence of the Hellopeter platform in shaping consumer opinions was undeniable. From making up just 10.8% of insurance-related conversations in 2021, the figure climbed to 22% in this year. This uptick closely aligned with a significant positive swing in the industry's overall Net Sentiment.

Liska Kloppers, DataEQ head of Client Strategy, said the surge in conversations about insurance on social platforms like Hellopeter, provided an invaluable opportunity for insurers to meet consumers where they were most comfortable and understood consumer needs.

“While there's room for growth, the data shows significant progress in customer sentiment specifically due to improved responsiveness from certain insurers. As a data source this offers insights to enhance insurer’s claims handling and regulatory compliance and investor relations,” Kloppers said.

Another key highlight had been the dramatic improvement in customer service sentiment, an aspect that rebounded from negative Net Sentiment score last year to a commendable 25.3% this year.

“Staff” was the most discussed topic within customer service, and the only one to register a positive Net Sentiment. This shift was largely fuelled by praise of staff efficiency and responsiveness, particularly on Hellopeter.

Competitions and socially relevant campaigns also saw positive engagement from content that connected brands to their audience in new ways and resulted in a boost ​​of 10 percentage points to industry-wide reputational Net Sentiment.

While the industry performed well in many aspects, turnaround time for claims, platform responsiveness and digital security, as well as industry-wide contact difficulties indicate the need for more agile digital solutions.

Customers often turned to social media after encountering issues on traditional communication channels, often providing insight into these channel challenges. The need for broader office hours or alternative communication methods stood out, as nearly half of the actionable mentions were posted outside regular business hours.

Call centres dominated this discussion, accounting for 63.5% of all complaints about customer service channels. The number of mentions about call centres was significantly larger for the South African insurance industry than it was for banking (14.6%) or telecommunications (16.5%) industries. Email and app-based services generated similar complaints of unresponsiveness.

Riaan Singh, PwC South Africa Digital Transformation Solutions Lead, said the insurance industry was seen as a laggard in technology when compared to other vertices like banking.

“As such, there is a pressing need for insurers to shift from ‘digital’ capabilities to becoming truly tech-enabled. Integrating emerging technologies and advanced analytics can provide robust data insights for a more targeted understanding of how to meet customer needs and increase overall sentiment. Fully utilising AI-enabled tech can circumvent manual processes to effectively and efficiently service and communicate with customers, allowing staff to focus on value-adding engagements,” Singh said.

This year’s report aimed to help industry stakeholders fine-tune their strategies to meet consumer expectations. Not only does it spotlight the industry's strengths, but also called out areas that required immediate action, ensuring a sustainable roadmap for years to come.

Vis Govender, the co-founder of Everything.Insure and Group CEO of FirstEquity Group, said South Africa stood as one of the most unequal societies globally, underscoring the critical importance of financial inclusion in the nation's progress.

“Beyond growth and development, expanded financial inclusion promises to empower a broader spectrum of South Africans, allowing them to actively engage in the country's economy and protect their assets, thus fostering prosperity among individuals, businesses, and communities,” Govender said.