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Webinar Highlights: Digitally transform your business to increase sales and process efficiency

By September 23, 2021April 13th, 2022No Comments

Thank you to those who attended the webinar that was recently concluded on 24 September 2021. 

This webinar kickstarts our new series and touches on the theme of how intermediaries can digitally transform their business to increase sales and process efficiency.

For those who were not able to attend, fret not as this article will summarise the key points of the webinar!

Key highlights

The webinar was broken down into the following segments:

  • What does sales and process efficiency really mean?
    • Peaking into the past – lessons to learn 
    • How the pandemic has ‘forced’ this upon us
    • Decoding sales and process efficiency related pain points of an intermediary  
  • In a highly efficient world, what are the tangible benefits for your business
    • Zero business leakage
    • A supercharged relationship and processes with insurers 
    • Digitalisation and doing it for the right reasons 
  • Tips and myths (debunked) about efficiency 
    • Networking virtually and tips to do it efficiently
    • Myths and facts about productivity and efficiency solutions 
  • The digital evolution has begun
    • Efficiency in customer interactions 
    • Why the new age intermediary cannot be replaced 
    • Consulting not selling

What does sales and process efficiency really mean?

We started off with this segment to give attendees the full context of what we mean by sales and process efficiency.

This was done by taking the approach of looking back in time and then comparing it to the times we are in right now.

The following chart form a report byOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was shown:

It was shared that technology drives efficiency and eases workload. But it also potentially replaces the jobs of many. Almost half of all jobs could be wiped out or radically altered in the next two decades due to automation.

However, the speaker also shared that specifically for intermediaries in the insurance industry, that if intermediaries constantly search for ways to be on the right side of technology – harness the power rather than be overpowered, this trend will not be something that will impact them. It was also shared that here in Singapore, we see the government already trying to act ahead of the curve to encourage digital transformation; for example, the Digital Acceleration Grant for insurance intermediaries announced by MAS at the middle of this year.

To further prove this point, the following quote by John Maynard Keynes from the year 1930 (British economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments) was shared with attendees:

We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come–namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour. But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem.

Essentially, there was a huge lost of jobs as technology started picking up – however, as John Maynard Keynes rightly predicted (now with hindsight), it is only a period of maladjustment and in the long run, we have invented tech to solve or handle our economic problems by being more productive.

The key takeaway, looking at this, is that intermediaries should look to harness the power of technology rather than be overpowered by it. 

This thought on the importance of the role of the intermediary as a human advisor was further echoed in an interview article with the president of GIA in April. The following excerpt was shared:

But while we are observing a growing preference for purchasing general insurance products digitally, our survey work with YouGov also reaffirmed consumers’ preference for the human touch – purchasing policies from agents and brokers – even among digital natives. Despite operating remotely, general insurance representatives play a critical role in enabling the sector to fulfil its promise of protecting customers, boosting financial literacy, and narrowing protection gaps. To this end, efforts to expand the talent pool and upskill the sector workforce to keep pace with an increasing digital economy should and will continue to be a priority for the sector.

How the pandemic has ‘forced’ this upon us

We then switched gear to focus on the times we live in right now, amidst the pandemic and how we have learnt to adopt tech for our own betterment (whether by choice or not).

We have learnt the benefits of automation

  • General Insurance policies are not the simplest to understand or digest. 
  • During our user research for Surer, 9 out 10 consumers (i.e. clients of General Insurance agents) mentioned that the quotes that were presented to them were simply too difficult to digest.
  • Quotes can now be generated and presented automatically in a digestible format

We have learnt to work more collaboratively with peers

  • Intermediaries do have clear target audiences and have a define set of services they provide to them
  • However, we have seen more collaborations happening
  • Intermediaries are starting to expand their network and work together to better serve clients by sharing expertise

We have learnt to free up more time by leveraging tech

  • Intermediaries are starting to use more sales tools to increase productivity. 
  • Tools that have features to track your deals, to help communication and path planning can help you increase your productivity significantly
  • Essentially, we have learnt to free up more time on process management so we can spend more time on sales.

Decoding sales and process efficiency related pain points of an intermediary

We then jumped into decoding the specific pain points that we understand hinders intermediaries when it comes to sales and process efficiency.

Tedious quote sourcing practices

  • Every potential new deal also means a lot of time having to be spent on tedious, repetitive administrative tasks.
  • From the get go, we saw that sourcing for a quote can be quite daunting, especially if multiple of such is required.

Manual, labour intensive tracking of deals

  • The days of having to look through email threads and whatsapp messages to track a particular deal NEEDS TO BE SOLVED.
  • The tediousness of having to repeat actions like informing multiple parties of the same thing NEEDS TO BE SOLVED.
  • The lack of automated communication on key actions to be undertaken, during and after a deal is concluded NEEDS TO BE SOLVED.

Slow network growth

  • Especially so for new intermediaries
  • We believe that by facilitating intermediaries to work as a collective, they can be empowered to grow the overall business pie to the benefit of everyone!

We then shared that in a recent survey we had conducted, the top 3 pain points intermediaries faced today (ranked by % selected) were

  • 61.8%: Difficulty in getting multiple quotes for clients due to multiple systems by insurers
  • 50%: Too much administrative work
  • 47%: Difficulty obtaining quotes due to slow or non-replies

The first segment of the webinar concluded that many of the pain points are related to manual and laborious processes. Sales and process efficiency basically means not being hindered by such to scale your business.

Attendees were then taken to the next segment of the webinar that touches on the idea of what can be expected when intermediaries leverage tech to drive efficiency.

In a highly efficient world, what are the tangible benefits for your business

The first point shared was that this will result in Zero GI business leakage

Zero GI business leakage

The leaky bucket

  • Many times, we do not realise a leaky bucket because we have the ability to constantly top it up with more water than what is leaking out.
  • Some do realise it, but can live with the knowledge… and honestly, there is no shame in that. Especially if it takes more effort to fix the leak than to top it up.
  • Whichever way you see it though, a leaky bucket is a problem; and every problem, especially a rampant one, calls for a solution.

Having defined what we mean by ‘leaky bucket’, we went on to breakdown what causes such.

Cause of the leaky bucket: ‘too troublesome’
‘Wah this client ask so many things, want so many quotes. I only have one GI principal… too leceh. Forget it lah.’ 

  • While it is indeed too much of a hassle to expand the number of Principals just for a couple of deals, that does not mean that an intermediary should self condemn and not do the deal!
  • We hear a lot of non-GI focused agents sharing this with us. 
  • They want to help their clients, to the best of their abilities when it comes to General Insurance – as a service and to retain their client, if for nothing else.

Technology can drive greater efficiency to enable intermediaries in similar situations to be able to work with insurers and peers via automation!

Cause of the leaky bucket ‘too complicated’
‘‘Too complicated lah. This GI is not my area of expertise. Forget it lah.’’ 

  • It is better to stay focused and specialise in certain segments, given how broad General Insurance can be.
  • However, an intermediary should not have to pass up on an opportunity just because it is outside of his/her scope of expertise.

Technology can provide automated guidance through templated forms, suggestions and process ‘hand-holding’

Cause of the leaky bucket ‘small money’
‘‘This deal, how much only. Not worth the work. Forget it lah.’’

  • It does make sense to weigh opportunity cost
  • The amount of work one needs to put in versus the amount they can earn is an important factor in how you allocate your time

Technology makes light work of previously tedious tasks, so that this supposed ‘small money’ is income that you can easily keep.

Sharing about the ‘leaky bucket’ and the reasons for such is to heighten the awareness amongst attendees that tech helps to minimise hassle to allow you to capitalise on business opportunities!

Supercharged relationship and processes with insurers

We then shared about yet another benefit that can be derived from a highly efficient process; that of a supercharged relationship between intermediaries and insurers.

There are enough evidence in the industry today that showcases the fact that this is as important an initiative for the intermediary as much as it is for the insurer.

Supercharging the efficiency of the sales force

  • Insurers will deploy technology to empower intermediaries much more, leading to an even better experience and performance. 
  • Much like how Insurers are looking to automate processes in their back office, a world where the intermediaries can automate processes that take up so much of their time they are unable to prospect or service their clients (the purchasers of insurer’s products) is not that far away.
  • By combining technology with human intermediaries, insurers can deliver better conversations and higher customer satisfaction

Research online, purchased offline

  • The internet has changed the game. 
  • It has changed how people are informed and get informed.
  • Consumers can readily do their own research 

Research has shown that the majority of customers still WANT to hear from a physical salesperson, even at the early stages of their research. What has changed is the expectations of the customer, when they speak to an intermediary.

Syncing the two worlds

  • Tech will cannot replace the ‘feelings’ side of an insurer’s relationship with customers 
  • Especially for non-commoditised insurance products that are not so much about price sensitivity.

Tech will remove efficiency barriers but one needs to be mindful to not ‘over-digitise’ and for insurers to run the risk of becoming ‘less human’.

Of course, the goodness of tech is what we propound. However, it was also shared that intermediaries should do so for the right reasons!

Digitalise for the right reasons

The speaker started this segment by using the analogy of ‘adding chill to laksa’ and said

You add chilli to your laksa to make it spicier. And you do it because you like it spicier. 

Not because you see everyone adding chilli and you just follow suit right?

Essentially, trying to drive home the point that one should not just follow a trend just because it is a trend! Do it because it helps the business.

Know your why… then think about how

WHY

HOW
I want to close a deal faster Cut out all the (repetitive) effort you have to put in to source for multiple quotes
I want ease in managing my business Automate the tracking of all your deals (past, present or future)
I want to close more deals

Expand your network digitally to get more referrals

The above table was shared to illustrate identifying the ‘why’ and then determining the ‘how’. Going back to the Laksa analogy… the ‘WHY’ = I want my laksa to be spicier. the ‘HOW’ = add chilli!

Essentially, tech is available to help rid process and sales efficiency barriers. But how you leverage it and how the users are trained to use it will require effort.

Tips and myths (debunked) about efficiency

Having covered the psegments on what the past and the present has taught us about efficiency and showcasing the benefits of creating a highly efficient world for businesses, we then moved on to offer some tips and also to debunk some myths around efficiency.

Myths about business productivity solutions

  • MYTH: Productivity solutions add more layers to and complicates tasks
    FACT: Productivity solutions should be removing silos and encouraging productivity by streamlining complicated or mundane processes such that more business can be done FASTER and at SCALE
  • MYTH: These productivity solutions help you multitask
    FACT: The act of multitasking has been proven to make someone less productive – a good multitasker might not be a productive person! We actually lose about 40% of our productivity when we multitask. Productivity solutions or tools are here to help you take care of repetitive tasks or automate processes to ensure you can… TAKE YOUR MIND OFF IT
  • MYTH: These productivity solutions overly up-play the value of task tracking
    FACT: Task tracking is tedious UNLESS IT IS AUTOMATED. Task tracking is highly valuable in both the short and long term. In the short-term, automated task tracking helps you relax in the knowledge that your attention is not needed unless prompted. In the long-term, task tracking allows you to look back at past deals and give you a full picture of what transpired for a particular deal
  • MYTH: productivity solutions overload us with information and forces us to be ‘always-on’
    FACT: productivity solutions do not want you to be connected all the time – they want to help you shut down, with a peace of mind.

Virtual networking tips

  • Give context when connecting on LinkedIn
    • Linkedin is a very powerful platform to connect with peers and clients but…
    • Do not assume someone will accept an invite to connect
    • Providing context to why you want to connect is important
    • Add a note before sending an invitation to connect
  • Make the connection meaningful
    • Virtual networking is still less memorable than a physical one. So…
    • do not just go on a virtual networking spree without putting in the effort to maintain these connections.
    • Add these connections into your newsletter if you have one 
    • engage them directly via PM or your content! (remember?)
  • Let connections know you are willing to ‘give’ as well
    • We either often focus too much on overstating our OWN reasons for wanting to connect OR understate our own value in a professional connection.
    • When given the opportunity to connect, be mindful to not only state what your intentions are, but to also share how you can bring value to the relationship.

The digital evolution has begun

We entered the last segment of the webinar by sharing how, whether we like it or not, that the digital evolution has begun.

What this digital evolution entails is that expectations of the customers have vastly changed as well – they know how technology IS available and will expect a more efficient experience. Having said that, the new age intermediary will still have their place in the ecosystem and an important one as long as they focus more on consulting instead of selling. To uplay their advisory skills now that they can leverage technology to free more time to do so.

  • Efficiency in customer interactions
    • The rise of f2f video communication
      • The reason physical meetings still happen, even with the rise of multiple communication services (from email to chat platforms) is because nothing can take the place of good old eye contact, body language reading and spontaneous responses.
      • However, what the pandemic has taught us is that video communication such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype etc. really is a good alternative to such.
      • It retains the key value of physical meetings and rids the cumbersome nature of physical commuting.
    • Automation will be an expectation 
      • With the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and bots, all of us are kind of spoiled when it comes to getting quick responses.
      • While arguably not immediately relevant to General Insurance intermediaries, what this inadvertently does is create an expectation from the client’s perspective 
      • Tech savviness to help you be more efficient is now a necessity not a luxury!
    • Remote deal closing will be the new norm
      • Technology will ‘give time back’ to all of us by cutting down on repetitive tasks
      • Solutions are aplenty when it comes to removing the need to physically for e.g. compile quotation and for clients to make payment
      • We already know how fast Information can be transmitted today. 
      • The foundation of remote deal closing has already been setup. Technology can / will be leveraged such that this information can be automatically structured in a format that cuts down the need for physical presentation or explanation.
  • Why the new age intermediary cannot be replaced
    • Don’t disrupt just for the sake of it
      • Insurtech should focus on creating solutions to problems the aim should not be to disrupt for the sake of it… 
      • ‘Delivering the proposition better’ or success, for this matter, is ultimately brewed with the same basic ingredients – there’s a risk to be underwritten, someone needs to underwrite this risk, a fee is paid for this underwriting – and the end product is similar; a coverage plan or policy!
      • HOWEVER, what can differ is the efficiency with which this success is ‘brewed’ and how the end product is distributed.
    • Enhancing your value with technology
      • Your business model is not built purely on a transactional level with their clients. 
      • It is a model steeped in intangibles… relationship, market knowledge, understanding of the products and services that is available vis-a-vis the client.
      • The opportunity for the intermediary is to enhance their business by leveraging technology; not fearing it. Technology has the power to complement, enable and support many of the core processes that underpin the intermediaries’ work
    • Technology can help improve not replace
      • Technology can help to improve the efficiency of placement – to get a proposal out faster, and get as many quotes simultaneously.
      • It will not replace the relationships between intermediaries or insurers, rather it helps all parties analyse, structure and ultimately serve the client better, closing a deal faster.
      • Technology still needs the guiding hand of the intermediaries, and if leveraged well, will enhance their position within the entire value chain… not diminish it!
  • Consulting… not selling
    • More time can be spent on… Qualification
      • In terms of either sounding your clients out on help they might need or identifying a problem you have the solution for. Essentially, qualifying that you can bring value to the client.
    • More time can be spent on… Assessment
      • Spend more time to help the customer explore the possibility or assess the need for a solution.
      • Here is where you can really be the advisor their clients need.
      • What are past experiences you have had with other clients in similar situations? Were there any learnings you can share? Does it make fiscal sense to purchase a policy based on the client’s business?
      • Qualification = help you identify if you are relevant and can bring value 
      • Assessment = you will be able to tell what kind of value you can bring to your client
    • More time can be spent on… Solutioning
      • More time can be spent showcasing your value – a value that your clients will not be able to derive on their own.
      • An example for General Insurance intermediaries would be your ability to get the best coverage possible for your client’s insurance needs – this does not mean just pricing, but also requirements of the policy.
      • In doing so, you have provided an additional tangible value to your clients – not only have you become a single source for your clients to explore their options, you have also used your knowledge and expertise to  help distill these options down to the ones that work.

Thank you to those who took time out to join us at the webinar. We hope it was a fruitful session for you. For those who are reading our highlights because you couldn’t make it, we hope this article gave you a good summary of the content shared! 

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