“We love sales.”
Helvetia Germany emerged successful from the most recent strategy period and is already actively tackling the challenges of the next five years. Creative ideas and concrete requirements – i.e. free rein and constraints – need to be skilfully paired. A conversation with Volker Steck.
Interview and photo Klaus Michl
Now that the helvetia 20.20 strategy period is over, where do we stand at Helvetia Germany and what have we achieved?
We’re already in the thick of the next strategy period – helvetia 20.25 – and are focusing all our attention on that. On that score, our successes with the helvetia 20.20 period will stand us in good stead. In certain segments in Germany, we cleaned up portfolios that had a high frequency of major losses. We have created a stable basis for profitable growth by centralizing operations and claims, and developing products that can be taken out online (and the corresponding sales channels). We’ve done a pretty good job of all this.
What is the Helvetia Smart Factory? And how does it benefit customers and agents? What are our key approaches?
The Smart Factory is geared to the people in our company. That’s because we believe our employees are our unique selling proposition (USP) – one that cannot be copied – and our most important asset. They are the deciding factor for customers and agents to choose Helvetia as their insurance partner. Our goal is to give our employees in their diverse functions as much time as possible to attend to the concerns of customers and agents alike. The Smart Factory will allow us to use algorithms to handle all activities where customers feel the involvement of employees would not add value. In short, we want our employees to be able to devote as much time as possible to sales and to customer/claims service.
So, we’re forging ahead with the digital transformation then?
We have already made a lot of progress with high-frequency offer- and acquisition-related processes. The task now is to move forward in the back office.
How do we know what our customers want?
We have to ensure our project landscape and product development are geared to our customers’ expectations and provide them with benefit. Before beginning anything, we ask ourselves a simple question: “Is there good reason to believe customers will appreciate this product or solution?” Statutory or regulatory obligations are the only ones not subject to this condition. This approach is complemented by comprehensive market analyses aimed at identifying incipient trends and customer/competitor behaviour. Everything hinges on customer benefit, and that can be gauged in particular by looking at today’s top-selling products. This approach formed the basis for the current launch of Helvetia’s eCar product. Innovative and up to the minute.
“The Smart Factory is geared to the people in our company. They are our unique selling proposition (USP) – one that cannot be copied,” says Volker Steck, CEO Germany.
What marketing channels does Helvetia Germany intend to use to grow its business?
Our established sales channels, our agents and our exclusivity all offer us good opportunities for growth. With these partners, we rely on continuity and innovation. We offer our stationary sales partners the technical capabilities for integrated off-line and online products. That puts them in a position to offer their hybrid customers everything from a single source. Broker pools and alliances can deliver additional growth. Standardized interfaces enable policies to be issued in automated form.
Which of the four strategic priorities – customer convenience, suitable offers, profitable growth and new opportunities – are you focusing on?
We love – and live from – sales, and profitable growth is the result of our hard work and passion. When we achieve that, we are satisfied and successful, and can offer our employees secure jobs going forward. That’s how we help Helvetia Germany advance.
What are the biggest challenges Helvetia Germany faces?
We have many ideas, but also challenges and obligations. Though some of these aren’t new, they are still waiting to be solved. Ultimately, the investments needed to do so must generate revenues. Our goal is to accomplish this together with our employees, so that we can all benefit from our success.
Where would you like to be in 2025? How do you want Helvetia Germany to be perceived by the market?
Rock-hard foundations remain a top priority for 2025. We need diversity – especially when it comes to customer access and sales channels as well as products – but we also need to reduce complexity. It’s important to me that our customers, whether young or old, experience and appreciate Helvetia Germany as a fair insurance partner in all phases and aspects of their lives – ideally by taking out at least one insurance contract with us. If we could accomplish that, it would be a great achievement for the Helvetia team.