Those of us in the insurance industry are always talking about Customer Experience and having a professional relationship with our clients, not just a transactional relationship where we provide an off-the-shelf product to our clients.
I have always felt that there is a big difference between a “customer” and a “client”. I have also always been driven towards process improvement.
Some of my clients wanted to be able to fill in the annualized premium field in the AMS360 system they use. They could use the pro-rate wheel to capture a prorata factor, then divide that back into the prorated premium, then multiply…. Ya, it was quite a few steps that usually ended up being a “stop sign” to their team members.
So I theorized that was needed was a calculator to handle this task. This calculator would basically operate as a pro-rate wheel in reverse. It would provide the annualized premium. I started to create one of my own in Excel but knew that there were some ways to make it better and more accurate.
So I headed to Fiverr (an online marketplace for freelance services) to seek out a person with greater skills than I had. I found a person based here in the US, told him what I was looking for and he quickly delivered a tool that did more than what I ever dreamed of and charged me a whopping $75.00.
I continued to use him for some other needs and in my cell phone his name is “Chris H Excel Master”. Over time he mentioned some of his other skills most specifically PowerBI. Fast forward to last year (2018) when I approached him about creating a dashboard using PowerBI for something that I had been thinking about for a while.
What I wanted to do was create a dashboard to track submissions (both New Biz and Renewal) across the entire agency.
He took on the project and we created a joint project called AMS Insight, LLC. The dashboard took on the “Submission Check Dashboard” name. We sold that tool to a handful of my clients who now use it to make sure all submissions are on track. It’s a pretty handy tool and if you want to see a quick explanation video check this out.
Now we are working on other dashboard concepts and last week I approached him on another issue many of my clients encounter. This is the distribution of a Customer Aged A/R reports to their sales and service teams.
I approached a good client-agency who currently does this via a worksheet attached to an email. We needed some actual data to create the dashboard that we had conceptualized and I thought that they likely would be willing to participate in the development.
This agency has some 20 service teams, so this means a pretty high level member of their Finance and Accounting department consumes about 3 hours twice a month to get this out to their teams. (BTW this person absolutely HATES doing this task).
The recipients then open the email, open the worksheet (excel) attachment, save it to a local folder and add notes about each open item. Notes include items such as Disputed, Client Contacted, Refund to Client and the like. Often they might have several versions of the same report and have to decide which one is the most current.
The service team member then emails that worksheet back to another equally high member of the F&A team. This person then reviews the replies and pastes the replies into a different report showing unpaid items to their carriers. This report is then used by the company payables team member to make sure that no items hit non-pay status.
All-told, two high level persons in their F&A department spend about 15 hours a month on this process!
Today we demoed a concept to that client that takes two related notifications uses three Microsoft Office tools that they already have but are not using. (BTW if you are a Office 365 user, you likely have them as well)
The end result will be a vast improvement in communication with their team, two way flow of information and all of it seamless! This process will not involve email! It will be inside of a dashboard system that eventually will be part of their intranet. The two reports that are needed to dirve this process can be run by anyone within the F&A team. Eventually, this step won’t even be necessary as it will pull automatically overnight. The data will display based upon who is assigned to the account. The recipient will be alerted to items that need their attention based upon a set of rules (new items, items past a certain number of days etc).
The F&A manager was smiling from ear to ear as we were making the presentation. She has already thought of two other processes that they do via email that could be done with a similar process.
Two take-aways here:
First – Connecting with a person for a very basic process but learning from them what other skills/abilities they have. AKA Not treating the connection as a transaction, but a relationship.
Second – Paying attention to what agencies do and looking for ways to smooth it out without them having to ask! For instance, I noticed the choppiness and inefficiencies of the process and approached them about a way to improve it.