By Sheri Bruner and Jessica Nolan
DIGITALIZING THE APPLICATION AND RENEWAL PROCESS
Attention to detail (early and often) and a focused process can help boost adoption and positive results
The biggest complaint from clients is about the sheer amount of information that’s being requested in conjunction with repetitive questions across multiple carrier applications. This process is frustrating and time consuming, and insurance agencies and brokerages are increasingly turning to technology to simplify the process and improve the customer experience.
At Morris & Garritano, we specifically sought a solution to enhance the client experience surrounding the renewal process through technology, while also gaining efficiencies for staff by reducing touch points including client follow-up and data input. Our agency was an early adopter of Indio (see Rough Notes’ May 2018 article), and as we enter our second year using the program, clients and staff are beginning to realize efficiencies in the renewal process.
[T]here are times when things don’t necessarily work as intended. Having a dedicated [vendor] point person … to help us … has been instrumental to a successful partnership.
The platform helps us easily identify changes and updates from the client, eliminating the need to check and cross-check lengthy schedules. It also offers a verification mode, allowing clients to easily review prior-year information and update only what is needed. Other benefits include enhanced two-way integration using an import/export feature and the ability to send automated reminders to clients to minimize the amount of time spent on follow-up.
Staff was eager to adopt a solution with the potential to obtain a timelier response from our clients, but with change comes resistance. While most clients were pleased with the ease of completing forms in an e-platform, others were hesitant about learning a new way of doing things. Here are some things experience has taught us that can make the tech adoption process go more smoothly:
- Vet the technology to ensure the product is right for your organization. Request a demo from the product team and ask as many questions as you can think of. Request a demo log-in, if available.
- Communication, communication, communication. Keep the team informed with regular project updates—this creates desire among staff.
- Make sure staff understands why the change is happening and what’s in it for them.
- Pick the right project team to create and reinforce buy-in from staff.
- Create communication plans for your clients. Explain the benefits to help them understand what’s in it for them. This will help to improve your initial client adoption rate.
Continued discussion surrounding the benefits became a regular part of staff-client interactions.
While additional time savings will be realized in year two, there was still less information to complete, particularly when multiple applications were requested. Producer buy-in and utilization is challenging, as the product is primarily viewed as a servicing tool. Continued education and reinforcement could help an agency or brokerage overcome this barrier.
Learning a new process is always challenging. As with most new vendor/partner relationships, there are times when things don’t necessarily work as intended. Having a dedicated point person from the vendor to help us work through these challenges has been instrumental to a successful partnership.
Training was instrumental to a successful rollout. We found it beneficial for our project team to meet with Indio representatives several times early on in the process to explain and demonstrate various features of the platform. The vendor also sent a representative to our office to train staff in a live setting. Training was recorded for future reference and for those unable to attend the live sessions. These videos have been incorporated into our new-employee training program.
We learned some training-related lessons along the way:
- Include one to three account managers in the project team as subject-matter experts to provide ongoing support for team members. Identify a point person for errors, questions, requests, etc., to eliminate duplicate work and confusion surrounding who does what.
- Require staff to attend live training sessions before going live.
- Create a separate training and communication plan for the production team focused on how to use the technology for prospecting and new business.
In getting staff up to speed and to increase buy-in, we provided regular updates throughout the course of the project implementation. We also provided hands-on training, held contests and offered incentives for early adopters, regularly provided reminders and reinforcement in staff meetings, and identified subject-matter experts who were available to answer questions and reinforce the benefits.
Having a secondary round of training conducted by the vendor team helped with retention and adoption. We were assigned a dedicated liaison whom we met with regularly in the weeks following rollout. This helped us troubleshoot and work through barriers promptly. Moreover, we’ve been provided regular access to the vendor’s product team, and this has helped us to navigate new features, updates, and changes.
It is important to partner with a vendor that provides support throughout the implementation process and beyond. The ongoing support we receive from our customer success manager is invaluable. She is always available to answer questions or get us to the right person for problem solving.
The vendor team is consistently seeking feedback about our practices and procedures to enhance the platform. For this we are grateful, and we can’t wait to see what new and exciting features are on the horizon.
Sheri Bruner is the commercial lines service manager and Jessica Nolan is an account manager and training and development coordinator at Morris & Garritano Insurance in San Luis Obispo, California.