How Zimnat’s digital transformation disrupts the insurance sector in Zimbabwe

How Zimnat’s digital transformation disrupts the insurance sector in Zimbabwe

For over seven decades, the people of Zimbabwe have placed their trust and belief in Zimnat to protect their assets, manage their wealth and ensure that their assets and funds are passed onto future generations. Over the past two decades, however, the global financial services industry has radically transformed, and technology has become the key driver. As the global industry continues this evolution, Zimbabwe has been playing catch up. But with over 15mn mobile customers and around six million internet users in 2018 alone, now is the time for Zimbabwe to fully embrace the technology conversation and leading companies like Zimnat will play a key role in this shifting landscape.

“From a global perspective, the industry is evolving and as Zimbabwe further opens its arms to technology and innovation, we want to be at the forefront,” says Mustafa Sachak, CEO of the Zimnat Group. “We want to position ourselves as the first ones to both create and implement a digital offering to customers here in Zimbabwe.”

As the industry evolves, so does the customer and Sachak is keen to stress that when Zimbabwe fully embraces technology, it will be defined and driven by the customer. With more than 15mn digitally enabled customers, through internet and mobile usage, the financial customer of today demands one thing: speed. “People want convenience and they want ease of use,” he says. “The CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos put it best when he said that the customers of today are divinely discontent as their expectations are never static.

“They will see insurtech offerings happening on the global financial stage and they’ll expect that from us. That’s what set us on our journey.”

That journey is an ambitious digital transformation, not only of Zimnat’s insurance offering but of Zimbabwe’s entire insurance space. As the company prepared to embark on this transformation journey, it needed a roadmap defined by the customer experience.

Sachak notes that in this digital age, it is no longer good enough to satisfy the customer. A company has to go above and beyond to exceed the customer expectation and ensure that it is providing the greatest customer experience possible. In the insurance space, the customer journey begins from the very moment they lodge a claim. “From that moment, to the time we actually pay the claim, there are a series of touchpoints along the way,” he says. “This digital journey is all about understanding and improving that customer experience. Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can really set themselves apart from their competitors and that’s what we are striving to achieve with Zimnat.”

In order to better understand the customer experience, Zimnat has invested in data analytics. For Sachak, the long-term ambition will be for Zimnat to be able to utilise Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in order to move from protecting customers from risk with financial products to actually preventing risk in the first instance. “Data is the new gold,” he says. “Big Data, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence… technologies like these will enable us to leapfrog the competition.

“Having the ability to use digital technologies to actually help prevent risk from occurring through making intelligent predictions, that would be completely game-changing.”

The challenge that comes with data capture, particularly as an insurer with millions of clients and customers, is turning that data into a real and quantifiable value. To this end, Zimnat has implemented a number of dashboards that are readily accessible to all internal staff and advisors. Through these dashboards, Zimnat can dig deep into customer data to create a rounded picture of the customers and their behaviour in order to provide them with relevant services and solutions. “Through data analytics we can really personalise our service offering for customers because not all customers will want the same insurance cover,” says Sachak. “Once you start to analyse that customer and look at how they engage with Zimnat then we can offer solutions specific to them.

“At the moment this is very generic, but as we grow and the technology matures here in Zimbabwe there is incredible potential.”

Data analytics in particular is something that Sachak is extremely passionate about and has ensured that Zimnat has invested in the right resources to support this data enablement, creating a full time data analytics role as well as a marketing and digital officer to continue to better understand and improve the customer experience. Additionally at the senior level, the Zimnat Group has recruited a Chief Digital Officer and a Group Marketing Executive.

As a result of challenging economic environment over the past 20 years, insurance penetration in Zimbabwe has been stuck at around 1.5%. Rewind the clocks back to the 1990s and insurance penetration painted a different picture, reaching as high as 6%. Under the leadership of a new President, 2018 represents a changing tide for Zimbabwe and the insurance space and Zimnat’s responsibility to cement confidence in the sector is one that Sachak recognises.

“A major challenge we have faced is getting everyone in the leadership team and all of our stakeholders to fully appreciate that this digital transformation is real and that we have to embrace this technology,” he says. “This extends to our customers. We have not been able to access a large part of our population because the penetration of insurance and the education we can provide for them hasn’t been there. Technology and digital platforms will allow us to reach them.

“Through our digital transformation we have been able to find customers who would never be able to find us through traditional means. It’s actually increasing the market for us.”

Sachak feels that educating the market is a critical ingredient, not only in growing the company but developing the insurance sector in Zimbabwe. He points to the company’s purpose of “making life better” and how that starts with changing a negative perception that insurance and insurance companies have in Zimbabwe. “There’s a general view that insurance companies simply take money from the public and then don’t pay up when it comes to claims,” says Sachak. “Our digital journey speaks to our responsibility to educate them and change that perception. That’s our purpose: making people’s lives better. That’s what drives us.”

Key to moving forward and to making people’s lives better is listening to people and recognising where the company is both succeeding and failing and ultimately, responding. Sachak understands that in order to understand how the company is performing with the customer it must ask the customer. “We can sit and pontificate as much as we want but in reality, the customer defines that conversation,” he says. “It’s never been easier for a customer to move to another provider, so we have to ensure that we are looking after their interests and delivering on our promise.”

The insurance space in Zimbabwe will continue to evolve and so too will the customer prompting Zimnat’s digital transformation to evolve with it. Over the next 12 months the company will increase its investment into data analytics in order to establish and provide a loyalty reward platform. Sachak notes that Zimnat will continue to dive deeper into emerging technology trends and assess how it can bring those technologies from all around the world into both the company and the Zimbabwe market.

Ultimately though, Zimnat will continue to do one thing. “It’s really about a customised experience for the customer,” he says. “What we're doing right now and what we will continue to do, is strive to make sure it's not only a seamless experience for the customer but an experience that has them saying, ‘Wow. This was superior.’"

Mustafa Sachak