I was recently having a conversation with an insurance agency principle who was trying to increase business written with a particular company. He was a bit perplexed because although he encouraged agency Customer Service Representatives(CSRs) to quote with this company whose products he preferred to offer to clients, he was getting resistance from CSR’s to include this company in the quoting competition. He decided to do some digging into the reason for their reluctance and his discovery left him a bit surprised.
The Root Cause
He chose to talk with a CSR who he knew was tech savvy, consistently recognized for her high level of productivity and positive attitude. As the two talked he heard the following from her: “Are you the same boss who told me you want me to be productive?” “Yes”, he responded, “why do you ask?” “Because if you want me to be productive”, she continued, “I can’t include that company in my quoting efforts because it takes me too long to get a quote out of their system. It’s hard to use and there are too many problems with it. I don’t have time to call and report system problems. I have my own work I need to get done.”
The CSR’s comments helped him to understand why, despite his requests, quoting volume with this company wasn’t increasing. Her comments sum up a key flaw in many policy quoting and application systems: they’re cumbersome in design and not easy to use. As competitors raise the bar on ‘ease of use’ the willingness to go to battle with a clunky or confusing system continues to plummet. While comments like this may be common among CSR’s, what’s unique here is that this comment reached someone at a management level who knew what steps to take in order to help the voice of his CRSs be heard at the company level.
Ways to Improve Your Technology ROI
In today’s competitive marketplace quoting and administration systems that are easy to use and designed to reflect how CSR’s think have the greatest potential ROI for both the companies delivering them and agencies using them. Here are a few ways you can integrate the voice of the Agency CSR and the Underwriter into the quoting and policy administration design equation to improve technology ROI and meet the bar on ease of use.
1.) Find out How your System Stacks up – Conduct a focus group with CSR’s of varying experience level. Ask them to show you how they complete a quote and to talk aloud as they go through the quoting process. Observe and document their pain points as well as their wish list of cool features they mention competitor systems have that your system doesn’t. Prioritize their wish a then create a plan to enhance your quoting and application system to reflect key features mentioned. Remember there’s value in a plan but you need to prove you’re committed to making these improvements by delivering on them according to your proposed schedule. Even loyal customers will only wait so long for the improvements.
2.) Ongoing Feedback Loop – Customer’s appreciate when you ask for their feedback on system designs. If you’re thinking about making some changes to how to add an Additional Insured or add Comp Only to a policy, draw up some simple screen shots of the proposed design and run it by a few CSR’s or underwriters. Not only will you likely garner a few surprising comments as you understand how your customers interact with your system, you’ll likely save your company lots of money by preventing the need for redesign later. The bonus is the positive impact this approach will likely on your company’s branding because of these efforts. These real outcomes are often evident in the bottom line with increased quoting activity, which generally leads to new customers and more revenue for the company.
3.) Technology Advisory Board – If you’re committed to keeping the voice of the customer in your design process for the long run, consider creating a Technology Advisory Board composed of a few CSR’s and Agency principles who can serve as the voice of your larger group of agents. Set up periodic meetings to get their feedback on proposed technology enhancements and include them in the review of proposed technology redesigns early in the process.
So what are the take-aways?
- As customer-centered design continues to bring huge gains for companies who get it right, include activities in the project schedule that integrate the customer expectations. It will foster project success rates.
- These activities need not add time or dollars to the project budget. As a matter of fact, in case after case, these up front steps to include the voice of the customer in the early stages of the design process have proven to save time and money.
- Done right the results increase the ROI of your technology design efforts will quickly become evident. Everyone wins!
About the Author: Jill has led the development and implementation of new products as well as brought hundreds of enhancements to Personal and Commercial Lines Quoting and Administration Systems into production. She helps companies design systems that delight customers and boost the ROI of their technology investments. For more information visit http://www.brainlogiconline.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org