Not known as an industry quick to change, Insurance companies are stepping up the pace of advancement in building strategic initiatives that add emphasis to data, analytic and innovative aspects of our business.
This is a necessary adaptation to the influx of technological solutions/ enhancements across both the industry and our customers, and how they are being embraced by both customers and employees. From claims to underwriting, we continue to thoroughly review entire processes and workstreams. The deeply rooted mindset of, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” has been replaced with an introspective question, “Why?”
The answer to some of these questions indicates a general trend: a movement away from only prioritizing the projects that produce the traditional financial-based ROI but also prioritizing those that generate soft ROI.
Two recent projects further illustrate this trend: West Bend Mutual Insurance Company’s decision to implement a new payment platform to substantially reduce the cost of issuing claim payments follows the more traditional path to ROI.
And yet our project to offer SMS text as a communication channel for our claimantswas not based on a direct monetary incentive, but rather our desire to improve overall customer experience. The fact that both initiatives ranked high on strategic priorities is a testament to this evolving focus.
Continuous change across the industry is the established reality with a multitude of reasons for and against any technological option. Rather than speak to the pros and cons of any one technology, or a particular means of vetting vendor partners, I’d like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of the human side of change.
Any industry whose customer and employee bases span across several generations will be challenged to find the right pace at which to implement these innovations. It’s caused us to move beyond just “why” to also ask “how?”
After the daunting task of determining what solution and tech partner are best situated for optimal ROI, adoption by employees is crucial. Organizational Change Management is often discussed, but rarely applied where top-to-bottom enthusiasm gives a sense of ownership across the entire enterprise. When evaluating any innovation, it is our responsibility as leaders to foster this experience. Early identification of impacts and early/often communication of the importance of change is crucial for employees to be part of the journey. A top concern will be the direct impact to their jobs. In other words, helping employees figure out the “how” is really crucial to getting them to embrace the “why.”
West Bend employs dedicated individuals with experience ranges from days to decades. Even before our text platform went live, our claims leadership worked closely with frontline management and pilot users, communicating frequently and celebrating success stories. Only slight resistance emerged. By continuing to highlight positive customer feedback and lack of negative impact to workflow, we were able to provethe benefits that exist for the customer, claims handler, and company, there by closing the gap and making the transition a success.
We are encouraged that the pace of advancement continues to accelerate within this traditionally stable industry. New technologies are becoming increasingly important to grow or simply maintain market share. Within the insurance industry, especially claims departments, we roll out new processes and tools several times a year. This means the roles and responsibilities of a claims adjuster will update within a matter of months. Some changes will be small and focused, while others will be large and disruptive.
No matter the size, leadership’s efforts to successfully bring these initiatives to fruition are increasingly important. Equally vital is the need to realize internal buy in with employees in order to create positive experiences with customers externally. West Bend’s associates are the reason for the prosperity and perpetuity of our 126-year-old company. Any initiative would be a failure without their trust and dedication. As you work to implement that next innovation, improve your odds of success by making your employees a priority in the process.