INTERACTIVE WEB SITES:
“The client is going to print a certificate of insurance in his own office - by himself!?!”
Clients will answer the dialogue boxes in an “overly optimistic” or deliberately untruthful manner.
Insureds will expect coverage to be bound because (in their minds) they “did it” on-line.
We lose the chance to explore nuances, ask questions, delve into the situation.
The agency will be depersonalized in the insured’s eyes and therefore will be easier to see as a sue-able entity, rather than as a friend and advisor..
Don’t fight this way of doing business. The client segment that like it will demand it.
Decide if you want to allow the client (or at least some clients) to print the desired product (ID card, certificate, binder, evidence etc.) or if you want to set up the request to go to the CSR/Account Manager for action.
Use the time that is saved by the insured doing the entry to think about his request or situation and reply personally or via email with relevant advice, follow-up questions, and or coverage suggestions. If necessary, adapt your conception of a CSR as order-taking processor to an account managing client counselor and friend. Interactive website usage will allow us to fulfill the predictions that insurance agents will be more relationship builders than information-gatherers.
Remember that the information in your system will now be used by you and by your client (and, in the full flower of Interactive Web- site Usage, by the carrier, in a seamless, paperless flow). That means that your system must be:
Consistent from policy to policy, no matter who its CSR, Producer, or carrier is.
Up to date. We will really have to be doing today’s work, today.
Downloads from carriers will have to be consistent with each other and with how data is input manually. For example, optional endorsements in correct fields (rather than dumped into “Remarks” fields) with consistent indicators (by manual number or Manual name or consistent/intelligible abbreviation.)
Be alert to the benefits of this way of doing business. There is an actual stored record of what the insured said and/or wanted. There is a clear trail of what, how, why, and when things happened. This is a vast improvement over phone calls whose documentation, at its best, is simply a version of what was said or done.
ACCEPTANCE AND NEW DEFINITION OF CONSISTENCY
As we all accommodate to technology in our personal and professional lives, we will have to accept that different clients will want to do business indifferent ways. Individuals in the same family or business may prefer to use different communication media with their agency.
While how we receive and transmit information from and to Client A may differ from how we do it with Client B, the standard of care and of caring must be the same for both. The result must always be a well-protected (or at least well-advised) client who gets what he/she wants and deserves accurately and quickly, and a documented activity trail that is easy to understand, easy to access and credible.
Virginia M. Bates is an educator on management and coverage topics and an independent consultant who advises insurance agencies and companies in the areas of E&O protection, successful technology usage, profitability, marketing, operations, and perpetuation. She can be reached at (781) 665-0623 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She returns messages.
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Copyright 2000 by Virginia M. Bates. Used with permission.