We often speak with brokers about 'being digital' in commercial lines. What does this mean? Where do you start?
If you had asked that question 10 years ago, the response would have been 'paperless'. Being digital meant that you had become paperless. And though there were benefits to the end consumer, the real benefits were operational. Less time completing a task meant more time to focus on more business.
Few businesses today, including brokerages, are completely paperless. Yet we've all made progress along this path. So now when someone talks about 'being digital', we don't default to being paperless. The problem is that we don't necessarily default to any one idea.
Instead, 'being digital' is so broad that it's almost overwhelming. Pose the question to 5 different brokers and you'll likely get five different responses. Everything from lead generation to chatbots to a better UX (user experience) will likely drive the conversation.
In commercial lines, everyone acknowledges the need to 'be digital' yet many aren't sure how to get there. It's a quoting portal for small business. Or letting customers self-serve for certificates. Or data exchange with carriers.
What's important is not the destination. It's getting started on the journey. Here are three suggestions to start down the path of 'being digital' in commercial-lines.
1. Gather Machinable Data
Every day, your commercial staff are gathering data. Collecting information for a new business submission. Endorsing a policy. Ask yourself this: is the information entered once and then used throughout the policy lifecycle without someone having to copy & paste? If yes, then it's likely machinable.
In our world, machinable data is information that is collected once and is able to be used within and between systems. It's standardized information. If "being digital" was a language, machinable data would be the alphabet.
2. Think workflow improvements
Let's imagine, for instance, that your CSR's need to re-type data and re-format a Word document to each time they need to issue a certificate. I've heard of CSR's spending hours to issue certificates, day after day, week after week. This is a workflow inefficiency.
Invest in the time to analyze your workflows to find the weak points. Then search for tools that can help staff do their jobs better, faster. Funny enough, the unintended outcome is often happier customers.
Talk to a company like Gradient Solutions. These guys bring a blend of systems knowledge with broker workflow experience to their consulting practice. Download their eBook, Inefficient Workflows are Hurting Your Business: Using Lean Methodology to Build Better Processes.
3. Analyze the customer experience
In the rush to 'become digital', there is a push to digitize entire customer interactions. One of the most popular is having small businesses get an insurance quote, automatically, without ever having to speak with a broker.
While small package policies are becoming commoditized, it doesn't mean that insurance advice is not needed. Instead of thinking about entire workflows to automate, stand back and think about when insurance advice is needed along the customer buying journey. Those times when advice is needed, make it personal. When counsel is not needed, look for ways to offer a digital interaction or solution.
It's a journey and a destination
Becoming digital in commercial-lines is a journey. Don't try to 'become digital' overnight; it doesn't work that way. Instead, think about how the customer buying journey and broker-value intersect. And above all else, start collecting machinable data.