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Marc Lauer (Foyer Group): The assurance of successful innovation

 

Following current trends, the insurance sector and the Foyer Group are implementing their digital transformation. An interview with Marc Lauer, CEO of Foyer Group.

 

What does innovation mean for an insurer?

 

We must reinvent the relationship between Foyer and its customers. Innovation means making a daily effort to change habits and look to the future. It comes in different forms: creating an online customer area that develops along with technological progress, taking customers' opinions on our services into consideration via questionnaires, and providing modern, functional tools. The fact that our customers can send their health reimbursement requests via mobile phone, or that we can film a claim via video conference with the loss assessor creates high added-value for our customers, and therefore for Foyer. The company is also working more closely together internally. Our agility means we can react rapidly to a constantly changing environment. In the past, the boss knew everything and the employees did what they were told. These days, the move is towards a participative company, in which each team has its own responsibility. Among other things, this has led to the creation of a collaborative Innovation Hub where our employees can become involved in change and take part in numerous innovative activities, such as brown bag sessions or hackathons.`

 

How do you put this innovation into practice?

 

Our “ELAN” programme, launched in 2015, helped us recognise everyone’s potential. Through this programme, employees suggest ways to improve their working processes and therefore the quality of our customer service, focusing on continuous improvement. The potential for innovation is huge: it does not stem from fundamental research, but from a succession of everyday improvements. We also seek to demystify mistakes, as they are part of the learning process. Finally, the heads of department work closely with other teams. This necessarily results in a cross-departmental approach, showing that problems do not exist in only one department, but often concern the whole of the Foyer Group. The members of the Executive Committee, including myself, regularly take part in operational department meetings outside our own department, to give us a better understanding of the issues affecting the whole company. Leading by example is essential. 

 

Has innovation changed everyday life for you personally?

Yes, definitely! The era of the CEO as captain of the ship, alone at the top of the tower, seems to be a thing of the past. Today, he manages a fleet of small sailing vessels in which everyone knows how to hoist the sails or save someone who's fallen overboard. Based on this vision, wWe have also decided not to create a post of Chief Innovation Officer. Instead, we have an Innovation Coordination Officer who gathers ideas, but everyone must be involved, as innovation is a joint mission. Finally, our presence in the innovation ecosystem appears to be crucial. Currently the sole insurance partner at the LHoFT, our positioning as an innovation guinea pig is atypical - we don’t want to invest in start-ups, we prefer to test their products or ideas, offering two possible outcomes: either we become their first customer if their product fits our strategy and gives us added value, or we offer them detailed feedback to help them develop. It’s a win-win situation.