As a youngster, I worked for an insurance agent, which was a great chance to see a lot of important things. First, I saw CRM – the discipline, not the technology – as it is supposed to be practiced. Our agent, Gary Wenberg, was there for his insureds no matter the time of day or the day of the week. I saw him return from vacations early when his customers had a special need. This was customer relationship management of a type no technology could provide.
Second, I saw what happens when you fall behind the technology curve. Kathy, the other office manager, and I existed primarily to manage the administration of the office and to interface with the insurance carrier. To do that, we used not just software provided by the carrier but hardware as well; the green-screen, text-based system was already years out of date when we were using it, and it took a lot of effort to do simple things. The introduction of new products was difficult and the technology’s limitations meant that Kathy and I were doing a lot of things by hand.
Even then, I argued for an upgrade to the technology (even though it would have put me out of a job, probably!). Something modern, something flexible and something designed with the realities of the insurance industry in mind.
Today, about 20 years later, the green screens are gone but a lot of the same issues remain: technology often lets down the insurance industry. Functions like agent qualification, commissions and lead management are run on different applications, requiring someone like me to do things manually to bring it together. At the same time, the environment for insurers is more complex than ever before, making compliance an important issue for everyone involved.
While juggling all this, don’t forget: the way that insurance companies and insurance agents stay in business is to retain customers, and to get out and acquire new customers – selling, and encouraging loyalty. These are things that technology can help with – but, when technology is forcing you to work on administrative tasks, it can actually take time away from selling and forming bonds with your customers.
Various CRM providers have dipped a toe into the insurance space, but it’s proven too complex for most of them; the web of relationships and responsibilities between insurers, insurance carriers and insureds is more than CRM can handle.
On Thursday, CallidusCloud held its first-ever Insurance Summit in Chicago, and took a look at these issues, plus other issues: changing technology, changing customer demographics, changing demands. As in other industries, the need for human talent still exists, but the burden of administration keeps growing. Now, technology is vital if insurance carriers and insurance agents and brokers are going to remain profitable; the ones who figure out how to automate processes and preserve time for their customers are the ones who will survive in the long term.
At the summit, CEO Leslie Stretch and VP of Product Management Dan Koelhoffer demonstrated Producer Pro, a new product that handles much of the behind-the-scenes data management, qualification and marketing tasks on a single platform. It’s something only an approach like Lead to Money can make a reality; a single system (like CRM) can’t handle the myriad of activities insurance requires and then unify the data. Producer Pro shows what happens when the entirety of the process is considered in the software. It relieves the burden on producers and carriers and allows them to do what they do as insurance people, not as administrators or accountants or attorneys.
We’ll have more about the Insurance Summit on the website in the coming week. In the meantime, take a look at Producer Pro’s specifics and see whether it could be the answer to the problems that are ailing your insurance business.