1 How mobility improves the insurance sales process White Paper Stephanie Wolf Business consultant, IBM Business Consulting Services
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3 Page 3 Contents 3 Executive summary 3 Becoming an on demand business the trend in insurance sales 4 Streamlined sales two approaches 8 Understanding the business value delivered by mobility in the sales process 12 Qualifying the benefits of mobility 14 Quantifying the benefits of mobility 17 Improving sales force effectiveness 18 In summary Executive summary In the on demand world, insurance companies are working to transform their processes to support increased efficiency and flexibility in the marketplace. Resilient, integrated organizations have a competitive advantage, and improving the sales process can help boost bottom lines. Adding mobility capabilities to the insurance sales process is one area of opportunity for streamlining processes and reducing costs if mobility is properly linked to business process enhancement and systems integration. Mobility can be deployed with multiple technologies and should be considered by the insurer s sales organization as it transforms itself into a responsive, flexible, on demand enterprise. In some cases the gains in productivity can be as high as 30 percent. By helping companies leverage technology to solve business problems, IBM helps bring business value to the insurance industry through the proper implementation of technology in accordance with business goals. Becoming an on demand business the trend in insurance sales To acquire on demand capabilities, insurers begin by building on demand operating environments information technology (IT) infrastructures that support resiliency and flexibility in the marketplace. This process includes modernizing or replacing legacy systems and moving toward a more componentized operating model. Once a business process, with the enabling technologies and organization, has been isolated into its components, insurers have the option of examining discrete capabilities along process, organization and technology dimensions to optimize the value of their IT systems. By focusing on high-value-added, differentiating capabilities and aligning the economic model with business and operating strategies, business component modeling approaches and virtual business capabilities can create real business value. Several key technology enablers help drive this value.
4 Page 4 The efficiency gap is quite stark. Streamlined sales two approaches Early insurance carrier systems for sales support/product applications, policy administration or customer information were only partially integrated and tended to support a single line of business rather than being compatible with IT systems across the enterprise. The sales processes themselves were mainly manual and paper-based, and they had to work across multiple system boundaries in order to generate a proposal and process the contract. This led to unnecessary duplication of effort and technological capacity, and tended to make the business process far less efficient than it could be. In fact, the efficiency gap is quite stark. Several 2002 IBM wireless and mobility survey projects that focused on field force automation identified significant benefits that could be obtained by introducing mobility technology into core business processes. 1 These studies found that mobility solutions could help reduce call center traffic by as much as 30 percent, while increasing dispatch efficiency by up to 20 percent and field force efficiency through improved skills-based routing by up to 15 percent. While these figures refer to companies outside the insurance industry, IBM believes that insurance companies can achieve similar results from wireless technologies. In a 2003 survey of insurance agents, 2 58 percent said they spend too much time on administrative tasks, and 79 percent thought improving the sales system could significantly reduce administration time. Also, 52 percent said an up-to-date sales system could increase the number of new deals, while 34 percent thought it would also reduce customer cancellations. Adding mobility to the sales process can help companies realize these benefits. There are two approaches to determining how to take advantage of mobility: through modernization or through transformation.
5 Page 5 A modernization approach preserves and leverages IT investments by integrating new techniques into the existing infrastructure. Modernization strategy A modernization approach preserves and leverages legacy IT investments by integrating new technologies into the existing infrastructure. This strategy is most effective when core insurance systems and processes provide good, cost-effective functionality, but new capabilities are needed to capitalize on revenue growth or cost reduction opportunities. Typical modernization initiatives focus on: Front-end enhancements such as mobility and/or Web enabling of existing enterprise applications Replacing one solution element with a more modern one, without redesigning the entire solution. For example, many insurance companies are now replacing their existing user interfaces with Web-based versions. They re adding functionality at the front end, using technologies such as IBM WebSphere Portal software. The portal can serve as the base for mobility extension of functionality to multiple mobile device types through IBM WebSphere Everyplace Access software. Transformation strategy A transformation approach turns inflexible or unresponsive core insurance systems into more powerful engines to drive your business in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world. This strategy is most effective when core insurance systems and processes cannot be reverse engineered, and when their limitations are no longer acceptable.
6 Page 6 In IBM s experience, insurers typically execute successful core transformation in a phased approach. When transforming systems, insurance companies can choose to: Develop customized solutions using a component-based approach for designing their business application architecture Purchase and deploy comprehensive third-party vendor packages and/or components Use a combination of both customized and vendor solutions the most likely option. Building a fully customized solution may be appropriate only for the largest insurance companies. The decision will be based on the overall strategic vision of the enterprise, taking into account the size of business, the degree of customization required and the performance needed to support high transaction volumes. In these cases, packaged offerings are often useful in the interim, while a longer-term customized solution is constructed. Whatever the approach, one thing is imperative: new systems must be integrated around a unified IT architecture. Where this foundation does not yet exist, it must be created. In IBM s experience, insurers typically execute successful core transformation in a phased approach, whereby each phase must deliver clearly defined business value in support of the core process master plan. One such value-oriented phase is centered on mobility. It can be implemented either as part of a modernization strategy or as a precursor to transformation initiatives, allowing remote workers to gain security-enhanced access to back-end sales systems without requiring application modification. It can also allow office-bound workers to respond to messages that remote workers generate, or it can trigger
7 Page 7 IBM offers a roadmap to help insurers find the best approach to meet their unique business needs, including mobility considerations. messages to remote workers. This allows a company to start quickly and simply, providing substantial business benefits before the broader transformation initiatives are complete. IBM offers a roadmap to help insurers find the best approach to meet their unique business needs, including mobility considerations. In developing such a map, a review of the insurer s needs might include: Core insurance diagnostics, to assess current capabilities and identify areas where additional value can be created The identification, validation and selection of near- and long-term strategies to drive improved business performance. These strategies could include modernization, optimization and transformation. A review of the IT infrastructure to determine whether it is capable of supporting new business and IT strategies A review of the business impact of technology to create an integrated workforce mobility plan that combines technology with business strategy to drive competitive advantage and differentiation. As part of the latter review process, various sales scenarios that include mobility have been developed, based both on IBM s experience and on recent industry trends. These scenarios have two focus areas: Understanding the business value expressed in both qualitative and quantitative measures of improvement that can be delivered to a transformed sales process Recommending the hardware and software and associated services required to implement the scenario.
8 Page 8 Many companies now see that the simple extension of the existing Webbased access to mobile users can be accomplished without changes to the legacy application. Understanding the business value delivered by mobility in the sales process To realize the sales benefits of mobility, you must examine the sales process and the way in which current efforts have already expanded the connectivity outside the walls of the insurance company. Many insurance companies have extended existing and personal information management by adding mobility capabilities to existing laptops, or by acquiring hand-held mobile devices that specialize in delivering these functions. Many companies now see that the simple extension of the existing Webbased access to mobile users can be accomplished without changes to the legacy application. However, while this approach is a good start, it will achieve only limited benefits based on the level of integration among legacy systems. More dramatic benefits can be achieved over time with the transformation of legacy systems to take full advantage of what mobility can offer today. Figure 1: Mobility opportunity in the insurance sales process Suspect/qualify prospect Qualify for coverage Manage proposal/produce new business Identify/evaluate needs Produce quote Agent Contact prospect Conduct initial interview/ schedule Capture/ prioritize needs Collect information to determine Perform initial trial close Handle objections Present proposal Present to customer Conduct interview Create value proposition Generate formal proposal Handle changes Close deal Assistant Sort list for agent territories Issue complete policy doc Create list of potential prospects Perform QA on new policy Underwriter Determine eligibility Produce Quote Mobility opportunity
9 Page 9 Data is transmitted wirelessly to agents, enabling them to receive these lists not only at the office, but also while on the road visiting customers. Let s now look at five phases of the sales process and highlight the potential benefits that can be achieved through mobility, as well as the impact of mobility on each of the sales phases referenced at the top of figure 1. Phase 1 suspect/qualify prospect More accurate and timely client information means an increased number of qualified leads, which allows the agent to focus on the right customers. Leads may be captured regardless of how they are received and which distribution channel will be used for follow-up. The agent s productivity is improved by reducing the time spent on phone calls or visits, and by having more flexibility in scheduling initial interviews. Internal employees produce focused customer lists for a special marketing campaign by using an up-to-date and integrated customer relationship management system that collects customer data from all possible sources. This data is transmitted wirelessly to agents, enabling them to receive these lists, not only at the office but also while on the road visiting customers. Agents can now use the time between customer visits to call prospects and schedule new interviews; they can also react promptly to new offers while visiting customers. Having all customer data available whenever agents need it facilitates the interviews and allows a more focused customer approach.
10 Page 10 Using a mobile solution, they can check the customer s history, use tool-based interview guides and sales tools, and have all product information ready, even for unexpected customer requests. Phase 2 identify and evaluate needs Up-to-date customer and sales support information gives a better overview of the customer s needs and can enhance cross- and upselling. Tool-based interview guides support the gathering of relevant information and help choose the right product for the right customer. Once the prospect is identified, it s important for agents to capture the customer s wants and needs. Using a mobile solution, they can check the customer s history, use tool-based interview guides and sales tools, and have all product information ready, even for unexpected customer requests. Armed with the supporting information, agents can identify the customer s needs and respond properly by generating an appropriate proposal. As a by-product, all captured customer data is directly documented in the system and, based on an integrated solution, can be used by the call center to answer subsequent customer requests. This can increase the quality of both the advice and the customer service, enhance customer satisfaction and enable the agent to realize cross-selling and up-selling potential. Phase 3 qualify for coverage The mobile solution leads to quicker eligibility checks and improves agents productivity. Improving the quality of customer information enhances credibility and trust, leading to increased customer satisfaction. The mobile solution helps agents collect relevant customer data for the eligibility check.
11 Page 11 Agents can capture all customer information directly in the application form and submit it to the back office. For simple products, the check can be automated and the customer can get a prompt response. For special cases, the agent can send the data directly to the underwriter, who, with complete and relevant information, can react quickly to requests. In most cases, the agent is able to generate an appropriate proposal during the first meeting with the customer. This means reduced cycle time, reduced travel time and reduced administration time, and thus increases productivity for the agent, while helping to ensure better advice, reliable information and enhanced agent credibility for the customer. Phase 4 produce quote For a simple product, the agent can submit applications for straightthrough-processing and get real-time quotes, which improves the agent s productivity by reducing administration time. The tool-based application helps capture more complete information, which leads to a more accurate price, helping to increase the number of closed deals. Agents can capture all customer information directly in the application form and submit it to the back office. They then have a chance to directly handle possible objections, get a quote in real-time and present an approved proposal. If the client signs the proposal promptly, the agent can inform the back office right away, without having to fill out any further forms at his or her office. This saves valuable administration time and enables the agent to focus on customer-related tasks. Of course, these outcomes are based on the assumption that both frontoffice and back-office systems (such as policy administration systems) are well integrated.
12 Page 12 Typically, going through these five steps of the sales process has taken more than one meeting with the customer, but a mobile solution can potentially close the deal during the first visit. Phase 5 manage proposal/produce new business A mobile solution reduces cycle time associated with binding the policy by capturing more complete and relevant data. Administrative time is reduced by eliminating paper-based work. The agent has already negotiated the contract with the customer and the proposal is approved by the back office. All customer data is already in the system. If the customer signs the proposal promptly, price and conditions are well understood and the policy can be issued at once, without any paperwork by the agent. Alternatively, if the customer wishes to think about the proposal for some time, they can address possible questions to the call center or the agent. An answer is easy to obtain at any time, because customer history and proposal details are already captured in the system. If price and conditions have changed, a new proposal matching the customer s needs can be generated expeditiously. Typically, going through these five steps of the sales process has taken more than one meeting with the customer. But a mobile solution, combined with a proper integration of front-office and back-office systems and the immediate availability of back-office functions, can enable quick data exchange and potentially allow the agent to close the deal during the first visit with the customer. Qualifying the benefits of mobility The preceding section enumerated where many of the qualitative benefits of mobility can be found in the five phases of the sales process. The likely benefits have been summarized without indicating the degree of improvement in accelerating processes, in enhancing communication or in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the agent and the internal staff. IBM Business Consulting Services has developed a Microsoft Excel tool, called the Benefits Assessor, which can be used to identify those
13 Page 13 Analysis of both the initial ratings and responses to the questions are then presented in a graph format. areas of the process in which sales and back-office staff believe they will find the greatest potential benefit. The tool asks the sales department for an initial rating of each of the five phases of the process, ranging from 1 very weak to 9 very strong. The tool then presents a series of questions asking respondents to indicate how they feel about a particular statement. The responses run along a range from Yes, significant improvement can be expected to No, significant worsening may occur. Analysis of both the initial ratings and the responses to the questions are then presented in a graphic format (see figure 2), indicating at a glance where mobility might provide the greatest return. In the sample below, based on the current state (the lighter line) and the answers provided (the darker shape), the areas of the greatest benefit are in the identify and evaluate needs and manage proposal/produce new business phases of the value chain. Figure 2: Qualitative benefits of mobility in the insurance sales process Non-financial benefits Suspect/qualify prospect Manage proposal/ produce new business Identify and evaluate needs Produce quote Qualify for coverage Before After
14 Page 14 Now is it time to look into the quantitative aspects of the benefits. Qualitative benefits are rarely enough to sell the idea that a project must be undertaken. There must also be sufficient quantitative evidence that a project or undertaking will deliver on its promise to provide measurable improvement. Quantifying the benefits of mobility Now it is time to look into the quantitative aspects of the benefits, first by explaining the major productivity drivers of the sales process and then by discussing where and how the benefits can be found, as indicated in figure 3. All the numeric productivity increases presented below are extrapolated from IBM s experience, both with its own transformation, and with consulting engagements in the insurance and other similar industries. Figure 3: Quantifying the benefits of mobility in the insurance sales process Agent time spent during sales process (percent of day) Time saved Administration Travel Generate proposal Identify prospect and schedule interviews Customer-facing time Without mobile solution With mobile solution
15 Page 15 IBM estimates the potential time savings at 15 percent. Administration As noted earlier in this paper, 58 percent of insurance agents say they spend too much time on administrative tasks, such as policy administration, proposal management, inputting customer data or corresponding with back-office function areas. Implementing a mobile solution, together with integrated front- and back-office systems can significantly reduce the time spent on administration, thus leaving more time for revenue-generating tasks. IBM estimates the potential time savings at 15 percent. Travel An integrated mobile solution makes it easier to close a deal during one meeting with the customer and so reduces both the number of visits with each customer and travel time. Also, field agents can reduce their time traveling to the office by receiving all relevant data online and in real time from any location. IBM estimates the time savings to be about 10 percent of the time currently spent on travel. Proposal generation Given integrated front-end and back-end systems, and a potential to correspond with back-office functions in real time, a mobile solution makes it possible to gather all relevant customer data for an eligibility check, produce a reliable quote and generate a valid proposal for the customer at one time. This reduces both the number of customer visits and the time needed to handle objections. IBM estimates the time savings to be about 20 percent of the time spent on proposal generation today.
16 Page 16 Time spent with the customer in evaluating customer s needs, presenting new products, giving advice to the customer or negotiating contracts is directly linked to increasing sales. Prospect identification and interview scheduling Proper identification of qualified prospects relies on high-quality customer information. This quality can be achieved by continuously connecting integrated systems with customer data and analyzing the data and customer history. Agent productivity can be improved by providing a contact list of qualified prospects, including contact information for special campaigns. By using a mobile solution, the agent can receive the data any time and at any place, without having to drop by his office to synchronize the data. Meetings can be dynamically scheduled during the day. IBM estimates the time savings to be about 20 percent of the time typically spent on prospect identification/interview scheduling today. Customer contact Time spent with the customer in evaluating customer s needs, presenting new products, giving advice to the customer or negotiating contracts is directly linked to increasing sales. In the IBM model, the time spent with the customer for selling purposes is not reduced, because this face time is critical to most insurance company business strategies. However, as shown before, implementing an integrated mobile solution can reduce the time spent on research, scheduling, proposal generation, administration and travel, which accumulates to at least an hour per day (based on the 10-hour working day typical among agents, who often work independently). This time savings can be spent on increasing the number of customers visited. Assuming the average duration of a customer visit is 1.5 hours, this can translate into 190 more customer visits per year (with 280 working days per year) and, based on a constant close rate, a productivity increase of 30 percent.
17 Page 17 When properly integrated into the workflow, a mobile sales solution can reduce time spent on research, administration and travel and increase time spent with the customer. Improving sales force effectiveness The experience of IBM Business Consulting Services in implementing mobility solutions in the insurance industry has shown that, when properly integrated into the workflow, a mobile sales solution can reduce time spent on research, administration and travel, and increase time spent with the customer. Based on the productivity increases calculated above, this time savings allows a higher number of customer visits and a productivity increase of 30 percent. To understand the full efficiency benefits available to your organization, there are a number of baseline measures that can either predict or quantify the post-implementation benefits. For example: How much time does a sales agent spend on different tasks? How many customers does the agent, on average, visit during a given time frame? How many people are involved in the sales process? What is their average salary? What is the degree of integration between front-office and back-office systems? How many contacts/qualified leads does an agent receive at the beginning of a marketing campaign?
18 Page 18 Mobility can have a measurable impact on the productivity of the insurance sales process, the generated revenue, and ultimately the carrier s relationship with its customers. In summary Whether a sales department has decided on a modernization or transformation strategy to improve sales management systems and processes, mobility can have a measurable impact on the productivity of the process, the generated revenue, and ultimately the carrier s relationship with its customers. Implementation of a workforce mobility strategy focused on improving the sales process should ultimately provide the following benefits to sales management employees: The ability to access relevant sales information, virtually any time and from any place, while extending resources beyond the desk and office environments The ability to access applications and resources (sales support, customer data, policy administration, eligibility information) virtually any time and from almost any place The resources for better and faster decision-making Better control over schedules. And decision-makers should reap a number of benefits as well: Improved customer advice, service and, therefore, customer satisfaction and retention Increased productivity of agents, field employees and office-bound staff, benefits that can be reaped as additional capacity or as cost savings.
19 Page 19 IBM brings unique insights into the business process and is a leading expert on aligning an organization s business strategies with its technology choices. Once an assessment of both the qualitative and quantitative benefits of mobility solutions has been made and the focus areas for implementation have been identified, selection of the appropriate approach and technical components of the architecture will begin to take shape. As on of the world s world s largest technology and business consulting organization, IBM brings unique insights into the business process and is a leading expert on aligning an organization s business strategies with its technology choices. The result: solid business outcomes that help meet your business goals. For more information To find out more about IBM Business Consulting Services and mobility solutions for your insurance salesforce, contact your IBM representative or visit: ibm.com/bcs
20 Copyright IBM Corporation 2005 IBM Global Services Route 100 Somers, NY U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, the On Demand Business logo, Everyplace and WebSphere are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Footnotes: 1 Jacobs, Carolyn, and Urbain, Peter. How Mobility Improves the Core Insurance Claims Process. IBM Global Services White Paper, July, Psyconomics AG, Comema AG and IBM Business Consulting Services. Success factors in tied agents sales organizations, Available from any of the authoring firms. G
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