A holistic approach to service design in the insurance industry


Wondering what is a holistic approach in service design? What tools can combine different ways of delivering insurance products into one efficient methodology? Finally, would you like to know how to increase sales of insurance products and create an ecosystem that supports customers in the purchasing process? In this article, we will provide you with all the answers to your questions.


Insurance industry: Popular business models

Before we take a deep dive into the service design process and related UX research methodologies, let’s take a look at how the insurance market works. Here is a brief overview of two popular business models for selling insurance products or services.


Direct approach model

In companies functioning in the first model we’d like to describe, sales are focused mainly on internet channels or call centers. A principal function of the call center concerns the processes of signing a contract remotely and making payments. 

Most services convergent with e-commerce models are focused on making online payments and minimizing service processes. 

In such a business approach, upselling depends on CRM data after acquiring the customer. However, it is a rare scenario. It mainly applies to policy renewals. An active call center intensifies communication with users and selling processes.


Agent network, multi-agents, or broker model

Here’s how service providers work in the second approach we’re looking at. The primary sales channel is an agent or company representative. It is a very responsible role in educating customers and requires significant knowledge.

Some mechanisms allow intercepting the client after they leave the path of contact with the agent. Yet, that’s not common situation. There may be conflict situations inside the organization if the customer paths support an additional channel (e.g., search engines). It is significant to add that this does not apply to remarketing.

Drawbacks? Systems are often not ready for additional upsell. This is why it is often in the hand of agents.


Introducing the holistic approach to service design

It’s time to present an alternative to the above-mentioned models, i.e., a holistic approach to designing services. Here are its main characteristics:

  • The customer’s path is based on design thinking and the construction of scenarios implemented for specific personas.
  • Building linear scenarios, effectively keeping the customer on the purchase path, or creating non-linear ones that allow free migration between them on the purchasing path.
  • There is a big focus on customer education with materials and tools that allow clients to make a remote decision or support the agent and existing service.
  • Agents are not disadvantaged when switching from the path to the direct one. They become customer advisors (not only sales but also consulting specialists).
  • Self-service tools and comparative tools are strongly supported by the service provider.


Definition of the holistic approach to service design

Based on the above-mentioned characteristics, we can define what a holistic approach to modern service design is. Here’s our definition:

“It is an ecosystem creation that supports the customer in the purchasing process, regardless of the method of effective conclusion of the purchase.”

In other words, it is a set of supporting design tools and processes that need to be thought out, constructed, designed, and implemented on several levels.


The holistic approach to service design in the insurance industry

A holistic approach to service design means more than just saturating direct and off-line channels simultaneously.

The main emphasis in the holistic approach is on building appropriate scenarios. A bit like in the gaming approach, trying to read in advance possible user behavior and offering either linear or open, mock gameplay, which, however, is controlled by its creators. User experience tools, extended with analytics (UX research), are helpful in this planning activity.

Product design tools in a holistic approach can be helpful in two ways.


To maintain design hygiene and provide information correctly

This is a traditional design process. 

To verify, for example, the correctness of mockups in the case of sales support systems (for agents) or the product page itself (direct model), one can use usability tests, RITE tests (a research method that allows the detection and correcting of as many errors as possible in a short time), or other solutions.

The degree of tool use is often limited by budget and the design approach itself (incremental, linear, conceptual) rather than capabilities.


To examine the concept of product delivery

The formulation of the entire UX design strategy depends on examining the concept of product delivery. It affects appropriate approaches for other formats—product, marketing, sales, service, and maintenance.

Such a broad plan starts with connecting the dots between business plans for the delivery of an insurance product; researching the needs of customers, which are often hidden and not articulated, such as the need to design products based on micro-risks; actual budget implications; and building a road map of a holistic approach.

These are mechanisms similar to those of e-commerce, which require adaptation of service processes, depending on the adopted scenarios.


A holistic approach to service design thinking in practice

Enough theory. Now let’s look at the holistic approach in practice. These are the specific challenges faced by the insurance industry and the service design solutions that UX designers can provide.


Challenge #1: How to compare a service provider’s offers with competitors

Customers compare insurance components with the agent while verifying competitors’ products on the Internet.


Solution #1: Landing page to compare new services

Design the possibility of comparing the product with a guarantee of configuration and price. When a customer leaves an agent-built shopping funnel, a customer remarketing process takes over a comparative funnel.

A good example of such a solution is the preparation of a user-friendly product comparison landing page, with the possibility of fastening the appropriate tags for the customer that assign them to an agent (example: loyalty discount mechanism, or “enter your supervisor, talk about additional benefits” on the path to improving agent service).


Challenge #2: Proper tools for service users

Customer service tools should provide smooth guidance on the chosen path. The challenge for UX designers is to create a solution that will make the interaction between the client and the agent easier.


Solution #2: Process design for journey mapping

Use convenient forms of UX design for an agent who will be able to present different variants of product configuration in a coherent, graphical way, with a clear emphasis on the value they provide.

For example, in the case of a third-party liability policy, these may include accident insurance, car windows (additional products and micro-risk), supplementary home insurance packages, healthcare, a portfolio of products for a group of discounts, aggregation for a persona, etc.


Challenge #3: How to improve the user experience

Customer engagement improves sales processes. The challenge here is to develop appropriate educational solutions for the client that will support the work of agents.


Solution #3: Enrich the customer journey map with educational materials

If customers are not convinced about the product value (despite agents trying to shift the focus from price to quality), it is worth preparing materials for scenarios that support the agent in educational processes.

This is a so-called “side quest” method. When opening side discussions, we begin to pay attention to the details of value. Here’s an example of value for discussion: in addition to statutory liability insurance, in the case of purchasing assistance, it is possible to provide not only a replacement car but also hotel accommodation when it is not possible to provide the car within an hour.

Such design tools (for the agent) should cover the main path and paths for other scenarios—for example, when the client signals the call is on hold and moves to the online comparison path.

The agent may encourage the customer to use the appropriate ID (“customer passport”), which gives tangible benefits when buying online but maintains contact with the agent, as part of crossing scenario paths.


Challenge #4: What to do when a client falls out of the customer journey

When designing the sales process, we prepare agents for client behavior during individual touchpoints of the customer journey. A challenge arises when the client completely leaves the designed path.


Solution #4: Designing service scenarios that will bring the customer back to the shopping path

The idea of this solution is to secure against the possibility of a complete exit of the client from the programmed paths, for instance, by active remarketing.

If the client is at the agent’s office, the agent can trigger the action of entering a dedicated landing page at the meeting point (e.g., with a mobile phone: “look, here through the QR code we have a generated offer for the client and you will get my discount right away”) so that the appropriate tags for verification, where the path was interrupted, and what moment in the purchase was decisive are recorded.

Such a scenario can provide additional data to improve processes in the future or keep the client in the network.


Service design methodologies and UX design tools—five key principles

  • Develop scenarios based on user experience
  • Present the values in a thoughtful way with user research data
  • Pay attention to process preparation—the quality of analysis and service design matters
  • Implement IT support tools (microservices development, main tools, including back-office)
  • Remember marketing support, customer service, and maintenance (post-purchase, delivery experience, omnichannel support)



A holistic approach to service design can increase sales in your organization. The key to success is to constantly support the customer in the purchase process, regardless of the method of finalizing the purchase. Dedicated UX design solutions and proper service design tools make it as smooth as possible to achieve.

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