What We Learned in Recent Years: Lessons and PerspectivesBy Fernando Lledó | Tue, 09/13/2022 - 15:00
Consumer habits have changed significantly over the last two years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the digital boom of the 21st century. Moreover, we can say that people’s habits, overall, have changed, including the way they take care of their health, choose their food, exercise and access medical services. In that regard, we can also consider how they look at insurance policies, coverage, prices and innovation.
I’ve worked for Bupa for a long time and it has been more than a couple of years since I became general manager in Mexico. I can say, without a doubt, that these have been challenging times for me, the company and for society as a whole. I can also say that innovation has helped us achieve outstanding results, not only in terms of business but in the way we have overcome obstacles in an ever-changing environment. That could be said of all times but we know this is a special, different era, at least for us.
The Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions (AMIS) has declared the pandemic the greatest catastrophe that the insurance sector has faced in the country. Companies had to make quick decisions to protect people: for example, Bupa has offered free unlimited remote medical and psychological consultations for all our policyholders since March 2020. It has been and still is a successful strategy, as we have continually gained people’s trust.
We also developed programs like Bupa en Casa (Bupa at Home), through which we covered the most common needs of families and individuals related to their health, without having them risk going to hospitals and clinics during the peaks of the pandemic. These changes had to be immediate since we knew people’s health was at stake.
On the consumer side, things have also changed: streaming services, smartphones and videoconference platforms are probably more popular than anyone thought they would be. Perhaps some did but not in 2020. Even doctors have started to use digital devices as a main way to communicate for professional purposes.
A few years ago, patients would not have trusted having a medical checkup through a phone call or a videoconference. Now, people increasingly prefer it as a first option and, if needed, have an offline follow-up. This does not mean technology will replace personal medical care. But we, as humans and professionals, always tend to make our work more efficient with the appropriate tools, platforms and up-to-date knowledge.
I think this is how innovation develops. Some have worried that in-person meetings, medical checkups and other traditional dynamics would be forgotten. They won’t. We simply adapt and adopt new means if they’re beneficial to us and make our lives easier and safer. That is what we work for. The human component is a keystone of our philosophy, of how we are as a company.
That leads me to another essential characteristic of an innovative, humane business: customer centricity. Nowadays, consumers are not only aware of what they need and want, they are vocal about it.
Thanks to social media, satisfaction surveys and market research, we can get to know what people are looking for. It is part of our job to listen to them and, sometimes, even get ahead if we see clear trends emerging. That is, in fact, the first step.
Customer service does not end there. Older and younger generations both want advice and accompaniment from their favorite companies. We, as an industry, need to offer the best quality insurance products and services, excellent customer service and, of course, humane, personalized attention.
COVID-19, besides all its negative consequences, triggered a profound shift in how we live and interact. Whether we focus on insurance or consumer packaged goods, we need to learn the lessons provided by the pandemic. How were we doing things before and how can we improve today? Evolution is natural and desirable and we must not be afraid of what is coming next.
As I’ve mentioned, our consumer habits and offerings as companies have changed, both before and during the pandemic. Nonetheless, the substance in the market – and all other spheres of life – remains. People want to be treated as what they are: individuals with different needs, preferences and diverse contexts. We better listen.
At Bupa, we invest in innovation because we believe in it: in the last two years, we acquired a medical services network, developed a digital app and launched new products with national coverage. None of that would have any value if we did not use the proper tools correctly and for the right purpose. For us, the goal is to help people live longer, healthier, happy lives and to make a better world.