Unbeatable ECM for Insurers to Surpass the Competition1 Mar, 2011 By: Laurel Sanders, Optical Image Technology imageSource
Unbeatable ECM for Insurers to Surpass the Competition
Insurance blogger Anne LeTran confirmed in her recent article “The Weirdest
Things Ever Insured (Part 1), ” 1 that insurers underwrite almost anything that
represents reasonable risk. Policies have covered such oddities as pianists’
fingers, goddess-like legs, and even a famous silent film actor’s crossed eyes.
Yet amazingly adept at covering others’ risks – perceived or real – big insurers
often neglect to address their own greatest threat: losing customers to a
Mark Breading states in his November 2010 article “CCM and ECM: New Levers
for Growth in Insurance” 2 that the top reasons insurers are moving toward
unified content management is:
- To improve customer services.
- To gain a better understanding of customer needs.
- To improve customer retention.
Mitigating risk: it’s all about the customer
Although it’s critical to surviving a soft economy, cost reduction assumes a
distant fourth place; numerous insurance writings confirm this trend. Service
trumping cost reductions? This might raise some eyebrows, but it
shouldn’t. After all, success depends on understanding, meeting, and even
anticipating changing customer needs. It’s a significant undertaking:
communications by, to, and about customers–including interactions with the
company and within the larger marketplace–range from emails to faxes, forms,
letters, voice messages, texts, and more. Tracking is burdensome.
Getting ahead: manage information resources centrally
Fallout from the financial crisis and a prolonged soft market are keeping
insurers on their toes. To advance their business, they must outperform
competitors in customer service, and must do so cost-efficiently. Customer
communications management software helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem of
managing scattered information effectively, a prerequisite for excellent
service. That’s where enterprise content management (ECM) and business process
management (BPM) shine, supporting the customer service drivers for improvement
as well as cost reduction.
ECM: unify information management
Insurers struggle to organize, use, and track dispersed information that’s
needed to understand and manage customer interactions, viewpoints, needs, and
buying patterns. Critical information remains buried in policy administration
systems, claims software, communications management, accounting systems, and
more. ECM rises to the challenge, centrally storing, managing, and tracking
incoming and outgoing interactions and communications throughout the customer
Thoroughly integrating ECM with insurers’ information and telecommunication
systems provides centralized and secure access to all customer-related
documentation, offering a holistic view. Highly regulated due primarily to the
sensitive information they manage, insurers are well positioned to capitalize on
the opportunities for advancement that ECM offers since the majority of
information is typically digital.
BPM: re-engineer and optimize processes
Automating routine business processes (underwriting, claims, payables, etc.)
isn’t just a chance to accelerate processing; it’s an unmatched opportunity to
begin anew and to do everything better. Mechanizing mediocre processes
accelerates second-rate service; in contrast, understanding, analyzing, and
improving processes one step at a time eliminates tasks that are no longer
valuable, improving service as well as the bottom line.
Your role? To launch a discussion, provide needed services, or simply offer
advice and step aside. Remember: whether you offer significant revenue-producing
services or simply provide meaningful tips gratis, better results build trust -
and trust is key to producing more business.
Defining your role
IT and management skills are not the only factor in determining a solution’s
success. It also requires an elusive treasure: time. As a potential
consultant and/or service provider, you can bridge gaps between the insurer’s
available information resources and the resources necessary to ensure success.
This allows your clients to stay focused on advancing their business as well as
providing you with new revenue opportunities.
At a basic level, success demands:
- A strategic approach to information governance.
- An ECM solution that can grow with the company’s vision.
- Smart systems integration that opens the pathways to appropriate
- Purposeful automation that orchestrates the movement of meaningful data
from wherever it originates to everywhere it has value.
- A dedicated champion to keep the project on task, on time, and on
It also requires:
- Knowing the insurer’s document types: how each is used, by whom, and
for what purpose.
Identifying every place customer data resides: how it flows into the
company, its business value, and the best way to bring it into ECM
(scanning, importing, integration, etc.).
- Understanding how your skills can support the ECM solution. Is the
software highly configurable, or will it need custom programming to adapt to
- Creating an indexing plan that considers long-term enterprise needs,
even if it’s a departmental solution (this eliminates time-consuming changes
- Understanding which systems integrations would benefit your client most
and knowing where to turn for expertise if you or the vendor can’t provide
- Recognizing that process improvements go beyond flowing documents
to include non-document-centric tasks.
- Streamlining and improving processes thoroughly before automating them.
- Working with clients to create training and testing plans so both the
staff and solution are 100% ready to ‘go live’.
- Ensuring disaster recovery & business continuity plans are in place.
- This means understanding the hierarchy of information within the
business so the most vital systems and documents can be restored first,
minimizing business interruption.
As optimism increases and the focus migrates further toward leveraging
growth opportunities, understanding the processes, documents, and communications
on which insurers rely to satisfy their customers will help you to respond
appropriately. Educate yourself about ECM, BPM, and integration. Make sure
your ECM/BPM vendor offers web services to facilitate thorough connectivity.
Ensure the solution will adapt to clients’ needs, rather than squashing their
dreams with limitations. Flexibility and reliability help them adapt to
marketplace changes quickly and successfully.
Significant revenue opportunities lie in providing advice & services that
help insurers achieve stronger outcomes using communications & other data-rich
systems many already own. Educate yourself about their needs. Understand how
ECM, BPM, current systems, and integration can collaborate to support long-term
goals. Investing in yourself is a ‘reasonable risk’. Transform yourself into a
successful matchmaker, help them grow their business through better information
management, and your future will be bright.
Footnotes: 1The Weirdest Things Ever Insured (Part 1), by Anne LeTran,
Insurance Networking News (www.insurancenetworking.com), November 22, 2010.
2CCM and ECM: New Levers for Growth in Insurance, Mark Breading, Tech Decisions
for Insurance (www.tech-decisions.com), November 4, 2010.
Good Resources for Insurance Industry Info:
Many resources are available to help you understand the insurance
marketplace and where technology is headed within various marketplace segments:
- IASA (www.iasa.org)
- ACORD LOMA (www.loma.org)
- Tech Decisions for Insurance (www.tech-decisions.com)
- Insurance Networking News (www.insurancenetworking.com)
- Insurance Journal (www.insurancejournal.com)
- Claims Magazine (www.claimsmag.com)
- National Underwriter (www.nationalunderwriter.com)
Laurel B. Sanders is the former Director of Public Relations & Communications
at DocFinity Software by Optical Image Technology. Visit
www.docfinity.com or call
814-238-0038 for company information.