Meet Edwin Foster. Every morning, he looks at his list of customer visits, follow-ups, arranges his papers and application documents in his brief and steps out for meetings. Some of these meetings are with potential customers, who he has identified as suitable for certain insurance products on his shelf and others are in the stage of application, policy issuance, risk assessment and so on. He is mostly on the field meeting, following up and scouting for customers. Now, his classic dilemma is to choose between the marginally different insurance products he has at his disposal from different insurance companies. What’s in it for him to sell a certain company’s insurance products over the other? What would make it easy and hassle-free for him to sell these insurance products?
The success of any insurance company globally is critically dependent on distribution partners/ producers like Edwin. The number of distributors the insurer onboards within a given timeframe, the strategy to attract the best ones, ways to ensure that the insurer’s products are in the distributor’s consideration set are factors that impact the insurer’s revenue targets. A distributor is, thus, the sole pivot and touch point with the customer – The Lynchpin.
It is, then, amply clear that fundamentally addressing their “what is in it for me” question must be the key prerogative for any insurer. Let us look at the needs of the distributors which need to be fulfilled by any Insurer.
1. Compensation and Payments: Most distributors expect their remuneration to have a direct correlation with the quantity and quality of business they produce. Those with strong customer relationships, high persistency, low Loss Ratio naturally desire to be compensated suitably. Higher or differential compensation and quicker payment cycles to acknowledge their skills and performance, KPI-based incentives and upscale commission fee for exceeding target sales are few ways in which insurers opt to energize the distributors financially. A few questions that are on the mind of any distributor:
- How quickly can you onboard me?
- Will you pay me differentiated compensation based on my performance?
- Will you pay me a commission at a shorter frequency?
- How many contests do you launch in a year?
- I am a small broker. Will you provide me administrative support to payout compensation to my team based on my compensation rules? Will you launch contests for my team?
C2L BIZ Promise: SymbioSys Distribution Management System helps Insurers to attract and motivate Distributors through differentiated compensation, faster payouts, innovative contests, timely information to deliver higher results. It manages quick onboarding, complex hierarchies, and automated movements among others.
2. Productivity tools: When Edwin meets a customer on the field, time is of essence to him. His sales cycle involves understanding the needs of the customer, generating sales illustration, effectively responding to customer’s objections/queries, completing the application information (KYC documentation etc) and capturing health/lifestyle questionnaires for underwriting. Only upon completing the entire cycle will the policy get issued marking the end of the transaction. Any tools that can expedite or ease out the process for the distributor has a direct impact on his time spent and efficiency. Here are a few aspects that the insurer must look at addressing to attract the smartest distributors:
- Sales engagement tools to empower distributors to manage end-to-end sales process with branding of distribution partners
- Seamless integration with the tools of distributors via APIs
- Graphical Illustrations with the distributor’s own branding
C2L BIZ Promise: SymbioSys Sales Tool empowers distributors to conclude sales on the field by managing the end-to-end sales process, including solvers for addressing customer’s objections and field underwriting. It also provides APIs for seamless integration with the existing tools of distributors
3. Self-service tools: As Edwin grows his portfolio and team, he needs to keep himself up-to-date on the status of his activities, the team’s activities and customer interactions with the insurer. It is important for Edwin to spend more time on the field but he would now need concurrent access to information on the status of the application, claim, endorsement and others; information about the performance of the team, compensation, how many more applications need to be closed in order to qualify for incentive or contest, alerts like policies that are likely to lapse or application for surrender etc. The insurers could consider providing access to sales service portals which distributors can access themselves, eliminating the need for distributors to visit the branch offices of the insurer or follow up repeatedly.
Insurers must, therefore, look at providing the following capabilities to Distributors:
- Self-service portal or App, with seamless integration to the portal of distribution partners
- Periodic information on shortfall against qualification for incentives or contest
- Detailed information on compensation with the complete break-up
- Ability to define alerts and many more such points of information.
C2L BIZ Promise: SymbioSys Distributor Portal provides the self-service capability to distributors anytime, anywhere with an ability to get pro-active and actionable insights into his and his team’s performance, to manage a team effectively and remain connected to the customer with adequate information.
4. Underwriting Service: The key to quick policy issuance is Underwriting Efficiency. Distributors expect insurers to have a high Straight Through Processing (STP) rate for Good Order cases and also quick decision-making for cases that need Underwriters’ involvement. A few questions that distributors ask:
- What is the Underwriting STP rate?
- Can I get higher non-medical limits or relaxed underwriting rules based on the quality of my business?
- Can you assign me a dedicated group of underwriters based on my performance?
C2L BIZ Promise: Symbiosis Underwriting helps improve underwriting efficiency with informed decision making, supported by effective case management for quick policy issuance. It offers benefits such as – consistent decision making, reduced underwriting and new business acquisition cost, higher quality of analytical information for enhanced underwriting and offers improved distributor and customer experience.
Insurance companies have a lot at stake if they are unable to attract and retain the key lynchpins of their success. In some countries, for example, the churn rate of captive agents is as high as 50 percent! This implies high training costs, an impact on the quality of customer relationships, a string of orphaned policies and more. On the other hand, hiring and rewarding the best partners can change the market position of an insurer and its products dramatically in short periods of time. In most business cases, a team of happy, well-managed, skilled distributors can singularly determine the performance of the insurance companies. This story is true globally.