Working smarter, not harder may never be truer as new simplified appointment processes are proving. Appointment times are being shaved to a matter of days, and in one case, minutes, warp speed compared with more traditional waits of weeks or months.
Companies that make it easier for agents to do business with them are using these new processes to their advantage. “Companies are trying to make it easier for data to get submitted to the home office,” says Michael Sladek, senior marketing director, E-Commerce, for Zurich Life, Schaumburg, Ill.
Some companies are using technology, while others are doing things like making shorter applications, he says.
“I think its a trend in the industry to make it easier for the agent to do business with you,” Sladek says.
In the fight for an agents business, carriers like Zurich Life have taken steps to streamline certain internal processes, as demonstrated by the fine-tuned appointment processes.
In May of 2002, Zurich Life introduced an online agent appointment system called Z-appoint. This Web-based appointment system reduces the amount of paperwork, while automating the appointment process, according to Sladek.
“The appointment process in non-sensitive states can take less than 24 hours for the actual appointment, we will actually file the paperwork that quickly,” Sladek says.
But getting appointed in some sensitive states, Sladek explains, really depends on how fast the state sends the official paperwork declaring the agent is appointed. “We can file the paperwork within minutes of receiving the online appointment application,” he says.
Sladek explains that since Zurich is working with a general agency distribution system, there are 2 steps to their Z-appoint process. First, the general agent fills out an online form, then the agent reviews the form and submits the appointment application.
“From the agents perspective, if the general agent entered in all his information correctly, it takes less than a minute to file,” Sladek says.
Since this initiative is still in its early stages, Sladek says it is difficult to measure the success of the program. But he contends that since inception, there has been about a 15% adoption rate, and that continues to rise.