Outdated, paper-based processes, information silos and legacy systems have been the bane of insurance carriers for years, hampering not only the efficiency of their internal operations, but also impacting the way they engage with agents and customers.
For example, if it’s too complicated for independent agents to do business with an insurer, they can easily go elsewhere to a carrier with whom it’s much easier to conduct business. David Liliedahl, Vice President of Insurance Client Management at NTT DATA, explains that when agents write new business, they want to be paid for that business as quickly as possible. “If it takes too long, and is too cumbersome a process, it establishes a negative perception of the carrier and makes it less likely the agent will write business with that carrier in the future,” he says. To keep agents loyal, carriers must not only have the right commissions structure, but also they must on-board agents quickly and easily, enable them to view their commissions on demand, and provide real-time, electronic tracking of pending applications’ progress. Typically, since expanding the independent agent network is often a key element of a carrier’s growth strategy, being “easy to do business with” is vital to the successful execution of that strategy.
Leveraging digital channels to refine product targeting fuels growth
Customers who prefer digital channels can be even more impatient when they can’t apply for policies or resolve claims quickly. They jump to competitors without so much as a blink. To make matters more complex, many traditional customers still prefer to communicate with their agents and insurance companies via phone, mail or face-to-face meetings. Thus, carriers must engage each customer in his or her preferred channel, and that requires accurate knowledge of customer preferences and integrated information silos.
Carriers know they have valuable information in numerous repositories—information they could be using to attract and retain customers, identify cross- and up-selling opportunities to existing customers, as well as reduce operational costs—but without a coherent, enterprise-wide data strategy and flexible reporting capabilities, it’s impossible for them to obtain a holistic view of performance or leverage insights from demographic data.
“When data is fragmented across the enterprise, it is next to impossible to have a clear understanding of the state of business operations and extremely difficult to glean any clear insight regarding actual performance,” Liliedahl says. “Additionally, enterprises with fragmented data experience many challenges when attempting to establish automated methods of writing new business, inhibiting the potential rate of growth.”
The following question serves as an excellent litmus test when pondering an organization’s need for a strategic data management solution: “How many of our current customers have more than one of our products?” If no one has the answer—or even worse, no one knows how to find out—the organization’s need is clearly apparent.
Seamless data management gives carriers the competitive edge
Most insurance organizations share the same goals for modernization: they want to make it easier for agents to do business with them, reduce per-policy costs, reduce lost business and achieve rapid, accurate forecasting and performance reporting. To accomplish this, they need a data management solution that encompasses efficient, seamless, enterprise-grade data aggregation, transactional capabilities, enterprise-wide data sharing, and data-driven business intelligence and analytics. These critical tools empower carriers to assess agent and product performance, profile the current mix of customers and products, and plot their strategic path for future growth.
As IT has evolved and customer profiles have become more layered with credit reports, household data and medical and claims records, this data must be integrated to provide a comprehensive view of the customer in real time. Bruce Bosco, Senior Insurance Sales Executive at NTT DATA, explains, “Carriers need to understand each customer’s unique and continuously evolving needs more completely and adjust their sales processes to have the best products available at specific times in their customers’ lives. Plus, if insurers can pick up on customer trends and patterns, they also gain an edge when developing new products.” The right data management solution helps carriers not only improve their sales processes, but also cross-sell their products and services much more effectively, while enabling them to focus their sales and marketing efforts on the right opportunities.
Since insurers have evolved independently, and at different paces, each has unique data management needs. Thus, a flexible solution is key. Bosco comments, “This is an evolutionary process—never a point of static conclusion. NTT DATA’s Data Management Framework for Insurance (DMFI) solution is designed as a roadmap and framework, taking insurers from where they are today to where they need to go.” He adds that DMFI accelerates the evolution of the carrier’s entire data management continuum − from managing agent data and analytics-empowered executive dashboards to leveraging data to understand customers more intimately.
The challenges insurance organizations currently face—from bottlenecks caused by manual processes, massive amounts of data that make little sense, information silos that slow executive decision making—soften their competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Without an effective way to manage data, which has grown immensely in volume, making it more difficult to identify the useful information within the clutter, carriers lose the power to make forecasts and timely decisions. Business suffers. An effective data management strategy that automates processes and clearly integrates customer data into a single, comprehensive view has the power to position carriers for healthy revenue growth.