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Getting on-line – tips for brokers »

Have an on-line technology strategy

1.       Re-use, buy or build – When taking sales to the digital marketplace, the decision is often made to try to build the sales channel from the front end backwards. Technology teams & vendors will often see this as their opportunity to play with the newest toys. Certainly companies should not fear technology but adoption should be managed within a considered re-use, buy or build strategy.

Firstly, investigate if you can re-use components of existing technology. If you’ve already got it within the organisation, you can maximise utilisation while reducing risk.

If you can’t re-use, then look to see if someone else has already built it. Other buyers will have already taken the teething pain for you.

If you can’t re-use and nobody has already built it, then invest in a work program that keeps the business expectation & technology teams aligned.

2.       Back-end & Front-end alignment – Many back-end systems still used by the Insurance industry can be likened to the British Monarchy, gamely trying but struggling to adapt to the world changing around them. Whatever online technology & features you use, they should be kept in line with technology debt you have already invested in your back-end systems. In short, don’t let the front-end online technology write cheques the back end can’t handle.

3.       Strategic regularity – Technology moves quickly, a technology you chose 3 years ago may be superseded in no time at all. Therefore it’s important that you evaluate your technology strategy regularly. That’s not to say you should jump on the bandwagon of every new technological development but cherry pick the breakthroughs which fit your long-term goals.

Make sure it’s user friendly for you & your customers

1.       Triage before you sell – Face to face selling utilises the skills of the broker to identify the right products for the customer through asking the right questions, listening & experience. This ability to evaluate is diminished when brokering on-line. Many sites lay out products for the customer, asking them to use their own skills to identify the right product for them. Try to replicate the broker experience in an automated Q&A triage before asking the customer to complete risk assessment forms.

2.       Don’t speak Martian – Insurance professionals suffer with terminology which isn’t always easy to follow for the on-line buyer. This trait is magnified when written down. If you use language which customers find confusing, then they are likely to feel they are being deliberately bamboozled. Asking customers to comprehend a 20 page product disclosure statement as their only source of truth is foreboding . Wherever possible, keep the language simple to understand & offer advice routes where possible.

3.       Keep all lines open – Give some thought to integrating Internet video conferencing capability like Skype, with your on-line site to ensure instant advice is always available to customer. This can help remove the waiting for call centres to re-route & provides immediate face-to-face interaction for customers. Users can choose from a list of specialist advisors, who’s availability is exposed to the user via a graphical interface.  Multiple advisors can be brought in & out of conference depending on the need whilst documents may be passed between the parties speeding up dialogue.

4.       Get your game face on – The online world is populated by gamers and ‘Gamification’ is the use of game mechanics in a non game context to engage users. It’s a simple concept of competition, recognition & reward.  UK telematics  auto insurer ‘Insure the Box’ is a great example where customers are rewarded for safe driving miles & retail interaction. On-line users like nothing better than to ‘level up’, especially if they are rewarded for it.

Go beyond the web-site

1.       Be mobile – It goes without saying that your on-line site needs to be mobile ready, but don’t stop there when considering on-line sales tools. At the recent ‘FST Technology Innovation – Future of Insurance’ conference it was stated that 51% of mobile phone users never go more than 1 hour without using their mobile device. Also, 70% are never more than 1 meter away from their smartphone at any-time. Add this to fact, on average Australians have downloaded 28 apps on their mobile device (Our mobile planet: Australia – understanding the mobile consumer’ report) & we can see why mobile apps are so useful for brand awareness & marketing tools.  NRMA’s Insurance car park challenge app is a great example of a mobile application which became popular & promoted sensible driving standards whilst increasing NRMA’s brand awareness.

2.       Facing up to your customers – The insurance industry’s use of social media sites such as facebook & twitter is improving but some insurance companies are still struggling to comprehend its true benefits. Many make the mistake of assuming these sites are a public announcement system. However, what these sites are proving to be is an opportunity to address public relations both positive and negative. It’s been said that it is 5 times harder to win a new customer than retain an old one, but a negative customer experience can cost you both existing & future clients. Manage it poorly and it could become viral.

 
 
 
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