We’re always impressed by the facility that technology offers the average man on the street. The question we’re often left with however, is; “how can this help the insurance business?” We’ve been looking at ways of reducing your overhead whilst increasing profitability through technology.
Insurance Brokers and Mobility
This may leave some readers disappointed but this isn’t about better cars. It’s about the use of mobile technology instead.
We’re left a little baffled on this. One of the highest overheads that most employers in the UK carry is the office space they provide. In addition to that – the commute is environmentally unfriendly and tiring for workers. In short they work an hour or more extra each day getting to and from the workplace.
Yet the terror remains of letting people work from home. What if they don’t do the job (You use the same disciplinary process you use on slackers in the office)? What if they don’t do the job as well (home working doesn’t mean forgotten about – you can still support, coach and train people over the phone or through videoconferencing)? How will we measure productivity (Same way as you always have – percentage of leads converted, number of complaints handled, etc.)?
There’s a technical solution for addressing every single concern. There’s a technical solution for allowing someone’s home set up to serve as a call center station for example. In short, the only thing holding us back is the fear of letting go. The management aspect may need more thought but the principles are all the same.
It’s not just your people and budget that should be benefitting from this change. Your customers should be too. It’s time that insurance brokers (and many other businesses) recognized the changing face of telephone usage. People now use their mobiles much more than their landlines and while call costs may have come down – they aren’t as cheap. Automated call routing needs to take this into account and offer stripped down options for mobile access.
In the same breath this should be true for your field personnel too. They should have mobile options that allow them to communicate and conduct the same business on a handset as they could on a laptop or in the office. There are plenty of mobile application options to allow this to happen.
One area that the UK lags behind the United States on is using mobile technology to validate insurance coverage. In the US 20 states have already enabled legislation that means a driver can demonstrate that they have car insurance without carrying any paperwork (it’s environmentally friendly) through their smartphone.
We think it’s a small step in the right direction. Given that smart card technology can be incorporated in mobile phones surely it’s time for travel insurance and medical insurance to be easy to access with the wave of a phone at a reader too? Imagine going to hospital and instead of having to remember your card or your paperwork you just hand over your phone and let them handle the rest?
There are plenty of other potential uses for mobile phone validation, the government is working on validating tickets through smartcard for transport networks for example. The insurance industry might be able to take results from trials like these and build their own added value applications for customers too.
The benefits of all these options should be clear. They save money. They save hassle. They improve productivity. They may improve the work-life balance. They’re also all clear selling points either to your clients or when you’re in the market for the top talent. We’d like to think that insurance brokers and insurers are in a position to start implementing some of these benefits in the next few years. The journey to increased customer loyalty and higher profits doesn’t have to an uphill struggle.