Interview with Stefan Butzlaff: Being relevant for the customer

Stefan Butzlaff Interview Avenga

Stefan Butzlaff in an interview with Avenga about the challenges and success factors in the digital transformation of insurance and financial consulting.

Stefan Butzlaff is a member of the Management Board of tecis Finanzdienstleistungen AG and Managing Director of Swiss Life Deutschland Vertriebsservice GmbH. In this dual role, he is responsible for the overall digital strategy of Swiss Life’s companies in Germany.

Avenga has been supporting Swiss Life since 2015 in its efforts to further sharpen its strategy and to implement it in its individual companies. In this interview, we talk to Stefan Butzlaff about the challenges and success factors of digital transformation in the distribution of insurance and financial services.

Stefan Butzlaff Interview

Sascha Langfus (SL): Mr Butzlaff, for around ten years now, customers have been able to conclude legally secure electronic contracts with Swiss Life. This makes Swiss Life one of the pioneers in digitizing processes and distribution in the insurance industry. Since then, the web and the wishes of your customers have developed extremely fast. What needs and expectations do customers have of an insurance company today?

Stefan Butzlaff (SB): “Customers expect more transparency and flexibility. They want an insight into their finances and insurance – anytime, anywhere. Speed, simplicity, and at the same time, reliable data security are expected. And our customers do not want to be left alone. They still want personal advice. With our consulting tools, we satisfy the current needs of our customers and complete the consulting process. We offer our customers a financial home in which they can act independently.”

SL: Are Swiss Life’s digitization projects primarily aimed at intermediaries or are they aimed at customers? Is it even possible to separate the two nowadays?

SB: “Our digital tools benefit both the advisor and the client. One example is the Smart concept. It enables the individual and digital presentation of the results from the financial plan. The interface can be used by both client and advisor with similar requirements, thus accelerating the advisory process.”

SL: What challenges did Swiss Life face during the project and how did you deal with them?

SB: “A major challenge is the complexity of our business model which requires a large number of partner companies and their contract data to be digitally processed and converted into a uniform format. Data quality is one of the key issues here.

Additionally, the customer portal has to meet the needs of the various user groups (end customers as well as consultants) and thus, the corresponding wide range of requirements. A balance must be found between the interests and requirements in the frontend, i.e. what you see (functions, optics, usability), and the backend, what you don’t see (lean and stable processes as well as infrastructure, performance and security).

From our point of view, however, the most important thing is to be relevant for the customer and to offer him real lifelong added value. With our applications we want to simplify the customer’s life; our functions should be enjoyable and stand out from the competition.”

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With our applications we want to simplify the customer's life; our functions should be enjoyable and stand out from the competition.

Stefan Butzlaff

SL: In your opinion, what are the most important success factors in the transformation of sales and processes in the industry?

SB: “Our central focus is to know the needs of our user groups. Every technology, every project, starts from the user. A detailed analysis of the current pain points is the basis of every newly developed digital solution.

In addition, a cultural change of perspective, i.e. anchoring a positive assessment of change, is essential for continuous progress. Another key success criterion for distribution in the future is to consolidate and radically simplify complex work steps through digitization. This requires an agile and pragmatic approach. In a rapidly growing FinTech market, speed is required to remain competitive in the long term.”

SL: Why did you choose Avenga as your partner and service provider for this project?

SB: “Distribution companies are inherently confident. In the past, we would have claimed to know best which user interface was most suitable for our customer. This point of view has completely changed. We need the best specialists internally as well as externally to be able to provide the ideal solutions for our customers and sales partners. With Avenga we have one of the best specialists at our side. As a single source, Avenga provides us with everything concept, design, technology and at the same time, we benefit from their many years of experience in the industry. Accordingly, they understand our individual requirements down to the last detail which greatly enhances the progress of the project. A trusting relationship as well as an uncomplicated and quick exchange of information round off the cooperation.”

SL: Mr Butzlaff, thank you very much for the interview!

Project insights: the Financial Home of Swiss Life

Swiss Life Germany has implemented the approach on customer orientation as developed by Stefan Butzlaff and Avenga. This resulted in the successful “Financial Home” project.

In this German language video interview, Swiss Life talks with Sascha Langfus, member of the executive board of Avenga Germany (formerly Sevenval Technologies) about the relaunch of the customer portals of Swiss Life Select, tecis, Horbach, and Proventus:

Learn more about the opportunities and challenges that the digital transformation offers established insurers. We have compiled the most important topics in a comprehensive overview on digital insurance for you, from customer proximity to new technology.

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