Information and services available at all times
This gives our customers an up-to-date and clear overview of information, policies and health programmes. They can, for instance, request benefits quickly and easily online or submit invoices to receive benefits. It saves all those involved a lot of time and reduces costs and paperwork.
Dr Rupert Schindler, Merkur Versicherung AG
The path to the customer portal
Digitalisation is a key topic in many industries, including companies like Merkur Versicherung AG. With the help of IT specialist DCCS, the new “Merkur Portal” has now been created, pursuing two priority strategies. On the one hand, a clear and compact digital contact point was created for customers to communicate with their insurance companies. On the other hand, Merkur received a tool facilitating policy management and health programme management, which leaves plenty of room for expansion.
Merkur is Austria's oldest insurance company, headquartered in Graz. Under the catchphrase #vorsichern, the company offers numerous preventive health programs for the young and old – from health checks and high-tech early detection to fitness and nutrition programmes. Previously, customers had to request the necessary documents for the preventive health programmes by phone or e-mail from Merkur. Similarly, benefit invoices were only submitted in person, via e-mail or mail. This involved a lot of time, expense and paperwork for both customers and the insurance company. Merkur requested this communication to be shifted to a customer-focused online platform. “We wanted to simplify the process significantly and give customers direct access to our offerings,” says CEO Christian Kladiva, who is responsible for IT at Merkur Versicherung AG, describing the objective. The benefits for customers were at the centre of the firm's considerations: “A customer portal must not merely be a policy management system. Customers must be able to perceive it as a personal benefit and also use it.”
A digital customer portal
“The change brought about by advancing digitalisation requires new ways of communicating with customers. Young consumers in particular are best reached on their smart phones,” Kladiva says. This is why Merkur Versicherung started looking for a portal that would, on the one hand, allow quick and easy access to personal information, contracts and insurance benefits, and on the other hand, make the range of preventive health programmes accessible, including online reservations for health services. “It was important for these new functions to be platform-independent and equally easy to use on PC, tablet and smart phone,” notes Kladiva.
Expertise as the decisive factor
Merkur chose IT specialist DCCS to be its partner because they had already successfully completed a joint project based on Liferay and had had good experience. “The constructive cooperation so far, but also DCCS's expertise in the Liferay area was decisive for the decision,” Project Manager Dr. Rupert Schindler describes the decision. That meant that Liferay was already in use at Merkur as a technological basis, offering extensive functions, being user-friendly and flexibly scalable. The joint use of a content management system and the seamless merging with Merkur Versicherung's own state-of-the-art web applications were two of the greatest challenges. This overarching system referred to as the “Merkur Portal”, was not to show any noticeable difference in use between Liferay and the Merkur applications.
In a first step, Merkur defined the requirements and the processes to be mapped with the portal in a workshop – including master data maintenance, overview of contracts and products, personal mailbox and benefit invoice submission. As a further procedure, a phase model was defined for the step-by-step completion of all tasks. In the next step, DCCS worked with Merkur IT to develop the customer portal's front-end based on Google Material Design. “At the same time Merkur IT created new web applications as well as processes and interfaces for the back-end systems,” explains Dr. Schindler. “A lot of expertise was invested in transporting information across all systems and back to Liferay in fractions of a second. An agile approach ensured that implementation was very quick and efficient. As soon as a service was implemented, it could be tested and launched.” The agile development approach proved to be transparent and consistent. It allowed results to be achieved quickly, which could then be developed on an ongoing basis. “DCCS proved to be a competent, reliable and flexible partner in terms of consulting and implementation,” the Project Manager looks back.
Accessing personal health programmes faster
In the new Merkur customer portal, policy holders and insured persons can register quickly and easily via their mobile phone signature. Online registration is also available for customers without a mobile phone signature. After logging in, they can manage personal master data, view their contracts and select and request health services and hotels. A personal mailbox is also available. As soon as the policy holder has selected a preventive health programme, the portal generates a code that they can then use to book their individual package personally with Merkur's health partners. “This gives customers an up-to-date and clear overview of their information, policies and health programs at all times. They can request services quickly and conveniently online or even submit invoices for services. This saves everyone involved massive amounts of time and reduces costs and paperwork,” says Dr. Schindler.
A resounding success
The new online portal has been very well received by customers. Internal usage statistics show that the Merkur Portal has been widely accepted by consumers in a short amount of time – even without additional marketing efforts. As planned, the customer portal will grow into an important communication tool also allowing non-customers to obtain information about the preventative and health benefits Merkur Versicherung AG offers by visiting https://portal.merkur.at.
The “customer portal” is currently being turned into a “Merkur Portal”. Liferay and the Merkur applications are being extended continuously, including processes and interfaces for Sales. In the future, it is planned to use Liferay in addition to the Intranet as a central hub for many user groups. The first calculation system for internal and unrestricted sales is currently being built into the “Merkur Portal”. Expectations and pressure are high. “With a strong partner and well-trained, motivated employees we will surely be able to complete the next steps successfully,” Kladiva summarises.