The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered changes to enterprise, the pace of which we’ve never seen before. Practically overnight, the business world shifted to primarily remote operating models, underpinned by whatever technology they had or could get their hands on and implement quickly.
“As we continue our remote operations, it is impossible not to reflect on how the COVID-19 outbreak has fundamentally changed the global economy and the way we work at a stunning pace,” said Taylor Rhodes (pictured), CEO at Applied Systems – a global provider of cloud-based insurance software for agencies and brokerages.
“Seemingly overnight, the pandemic shifted office-based teams to remote workforces, testing the resilience of our work tools, critical infrastructure and capabilities to interact with and support each other and our customers. And through all the uncertainty created by this extraordinary disruption, there have been inspiring moments of individual and collective strength and perseverance that have resulted in a successful – even if unplanned – test in remote working.”
As the realities of the “new normal” set in, insurance agencies must focus on the digital path forward and the technology that can help support their businesses throughout the pandemic and beyond. To help with this, Applied Systems has shared some common challenges that agencies are facing today, and some vital tools to help agencies on their digital path forward.
Challenge one: I need to take my face-to-face meetings for renewals and new business virtual.
With renewals just weeks out, many agents are concerned about how a lack of in-person meetings might impact their success rate for renewals and new business. But the customer relationship shouldn’t be negatively impacted or diminished via digital channels. Rather, digital tools should enhance the customer experience.
For example, with Applied Indio, agents can conduct the commercial insurance application and renewal process in a completely remote manner with their customers. The real-time, online collaboration of Indio streamlines agents’ processes, while maintaining a high standard for customer experience – no matter the location of the agency’s staff. Another tool Applied offers is Applied Benefits Designer, which allows agents to perform remote plan modeling. This is currently being used by hundreds of agencies who have had to move their renewal meetings to a remote format.
Challenge two: I need to ensure my employees are being as productive as possible while remote.
This was a big area of concern for many companies at the start of the pandemic, partly due to the pace at which companies had to switch to remote working. Despite early concerns, the results have been largely positive, but with the future of COVID-19 uncertain, agencies are still looking for ways to preserve top productivity from their employees.
Data analytics has been brought to the forefront in every industry during this pandemic. Now more than ever, people are relying on the data they have to help them navigate what’s to come. In Applied Analytics, several dashboards are available to help monitor employee productivity. These include an employee productivity dashboard, which aggregates employee work efforts from what Applied Epic activities have been added, what activity notes and tasks have been added and what activities are overdue. There’s also an employee summary dashboard, which displays policies in force for new and renewed policies as well as what policies are canceling/non-renewing per employee.
Mobile capabilities are also key with employees working remotely. Anytime, anywhere access to management system information is more important than ever. Through Applied Mobile, agents can access client, policy and sales information from their mobile device so they can address client questions wherever they may be.
Challenge three: I need to find new and unique ways to communicate and interact with my customers.
In the digital era, there is no shortage of ways to communicate and interact with customers. For example, agents can make use of text message to reach clients and prospects, and because it immediately delivers a message, it has both a high open rate and a high conversion rate. Integrated text messaging notifies staff when insureds send a text response to ensure a consistent stream of communications within daily workflows. Applied has partnered with Twilio, a leading SMS vendor, to enable agents to provide mobile service by sending, receiving, and logging text messages directly within Applied Epic.
Online customer self-service portals and mobile apps are what customers want today. They give customers the freedom and flexibility to interact with agents when, where and how they want. Together, Applied CSR24 and Applied MobileInsured enable insureds to: initiate policy changes and quote new policies online or through an agency branded mobile app; view, download and print policy documents; and pay their bill online, without having to go into an office.
Challenge four: I need to find the right markets for risks while increasing ease of doing business with my insurer partners.
Agents can automate their search for commercial insurance markets by using IVANS Markets. This search tool immediately presents agents with a list of insurers, MGAs and wholesalers with an appetite for their specific risk. Meanwhile, the IVANS Exchange provides agents with an easier way to track current and new download connections, thus increasing insurer and MGA connectivity.
Applied CEO Rhodes commented: “As the outbreak intensified, we recognized that agents would need to manage their business operations differently and quickly activated several initiatives to help them navigate the new, remote reality. These programs provide easy access to the technology needed to support remote operations via the cloud and ensure your customers have access to your business anytime, anywhere via online portals and mobile apps.
“We also know that managing through this crisis and the abundance of information available can be overwhelming. A couple of months ago, we pulled together a COVID-19 Resource Hub – with content covering business continuity guides, technology tools and business management tips – to provide a central source of information to help you navigate the growing business and employee experience implications. We have kept that a living and breathing resource for our customers, adding new content as the situation has evolved. Our COVID-19 Education and Training hub also provides customers a single access point to find:
“Know that, whether it be late-night check-ins or after hours spent moving customers quickly to the cloud, our team remains laser-focused on making sure each of your businesses are able to keep your office lights on – no matter where you are.”