Agents Care About the Customer Experience, Too Tim Slevin, Sales Coordinator | Aug 22, 2018

Alternative Capital

The customer experience has fast become a top priority for every carrier. But how many have considered the experience of their agents? With more product and service options than ever before, creating strong relationships with your customer has become paramount and the insurance industry is no different. Agents have many places where they can place business, but they will always work with the carriers that make it easiest to do business. And, believe it or not, systems play a major role.

While there is no substitute for sitting down face to face, shaking hands, and having a conversation, things like video conferencing, email, and text messaging are becoming the norm. People are no longer just building relationships with people; they are building relationships with technology. As carriers look for ways to increase business and improve relationships with their agents they need to look no further than their systems.

In a recent article published by The Insurance Journal, Christopher Swift, CEO and Chairman of The Hartford commented on the company’s 36 percent increase in year over year earnings for the second quarter. He attributed the gains to ongoing efforts to make the company more “customer-centric,” including the use of “technology and digital tools to make Hartford an easier company to do business with, streamlining the underwriting process, and improving the customer experience”.1

A tale from the trenches

Recalling my days as an agent when my phone was ringing, the paper on my desk was piling up, and my inbox was filing up, the last thing I wanted was to work with systems that were inefficient and difficult to use. And I certainly did not want a system that made me pick up a phone call to an underwriter only to be pushed to voicemail. I wanted to use systems that were straightforward, easy to use, and gave me a quick response. There is no coincidence in my opinion that the focus on technology and systems at The Hartford has resulted in success.

A real-life example of this played out between two carriers who were competing in the small commercial construction space. One of the carriers which I will refer to as Carrier A had an easy-to- use system where I could process business and get a quick response on whether the risk fit their appetite. Carrier B’s system, on the other hand, was very difficult to navigate and it often felt like it led to a dead end where I would have to call the carrier’s help desk because I didn’t know what to do next. Even though carrier B’s pricing was slightly better than Carrier A’s, because of the ease of use and the ability to communicate quickly and efficiently I placed more business with Carrier A and had a better relationship with them. Carrier B was left only with the business Carrier A turned down.

Underwriting 2.0

With access to information and collaboration more important than ever, insurers should consider the following key features when upgrading their underwriting systems:

  • A highly-configurable rules engine to help streamline straight through processing
  • Efficient task management capabilities along with email and text message reminders
  • SLAs for tasks and referrals to ensure underwriting staff is responding to their agents in an acceptable time frame
  • 24/7 visibility for all user types
  • Built-in document generation and management
  • Open APIs to connect with data or other systems like calendars and contact information

With the proper systems and processes, every constituent from consumer to agent to underwriter has visibility at every step of the underwriting process. Everyone knows exactly who is responsible for the next move, eliminating the need for back and forth follow-ups. Modern systems create an online collaborative environment that allows underwriters to build strong relationships with their agents, write more quality business, and most importantly, increase revenue for the carrier.

1 Hartford’s Q2 Results Reflect Big Commercial Lines Gain. Insurance Journal. July 27, 2018.

Tim Slevin began his career in the insurance industry in 2003. Starting as a Claims Adjuster at Commerce Insurance, Tim moved on to work as a Commercial Lines Account Manager for Eastern Insurance, one of the largest retail insurance agents in the state of Massachusetts. With his deep domain expertise, Tim joined OneShield Inc as a Business Analyst in 2009 and within one year was promoted to Pre-Sales Engineer. In 2017 Tim joined Instec as a Sales Executive, with the goal of helping insurers solve challenging operational issues with tailored solutions. As a Sales Executive, Tim serves as a key partner, guiding prospective clients through the sales engagement and initial implementation processes.