In the 19th century, the invention of metal bearings was a giant leap forward for the Industrial Revolution because it enabled manufacturers to take friction out of countless processes and products, thereby making it possible for everything from band saws to buggies to operate more efficiently.
In the 21st century, ambitious insurance companies are leading an “Insurance Revolution” by finding ways to take the friction out of procedures that consume time and add cost to even the simplest tasks. In fact, while its imperative to have solid underwriting and offer relevant products at competitive prices, these companies know it is absolutely critical to implement business processes that make it easier for their distribution partners to do business with them, rather than their competitors.
Today, cheap computing, fast connectivity and easy-to-use Web interfaces have made it possible to pitch piles of paper and accomplish in seconds what used to take hours. The benefits include better customer service and more productive business relationships, coupled with higher revenues and better margins for all involved.
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Yet, surprisingly, not all companies recognize the importance of developing frictionless business processes. A recent report by Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass., reveals that even as Web-based business tools have proliferated, many insurers continue to pass administrative tasks on to writing agents. Apparently, companies engage in this practice in a shortsighted effort to reduce home office costs. What these companies fail to appreciate is the extraordinary value of doing everything possible to enable writing agents to focus on the all-important tasks of generating new business and maintaining customer relationships–activities with enormous benefits for everyone involved.
The key to fully realizing such benefits requires:
1) The vision to recognize the long-term value of frictionless processes; and,
2) People who can harness technology to make those processes as productive as possible.
To enable these innovations to flourish, leading carriers have created cross-functional, home office teams of specialists from IT, sales, marketing and service. Full implementation also requires a close relationship with distributors who provide priceless insights into what works best in the field because they are, in effect, the forward observers on the business battlefield.