By: Carla Gregory, Senior Principal
The Holy Grail has captivated the imagination of humankind since its first appearance in twelfth century Gallic legends, and it has been the subject of countless tales of quests to obtain it. Similarly, Insurance providers embark on quests to find a treasure of their own – the perfect business processes. A perfect process is unobtainable; however, the journey towards business process excellence results in continuously improving workflows, service levels, and cost models. The quest for process excellence may not result in you laying down your life, but it does require focus, resiliency, and investment over an extended period. Business Process Excellence does not result from quick hits and easy fixes. It emerges from a dedication to designing, implementing and refining a business process that achieves your target results.
A truly excellent process:
- 1. Supports the strategic objectives of the company and aligns with one or more of the organization’s key performance indicators. You must first understand your company’s competitive positioning. Are you a low-cost insurer or a high-touch service provider? Your definition of an excellent process and your investment priorities will differ depending on how you answer the questions, “What is our competitive advantage?” and “How do my processes build competitive advantages?”
- 2. Effectively engages the policy owner or distributor in a simple, straightforward customer journey. You must understand how an agent’s expectations differ from an annuitant’s and craft processes that serve all your customers. Make your process as low-effort as possible for the customer to drive loyalty and enhance experience.
- 3. Motivates employees and enriches their work experience. Your employees are as important as your customers. The contact center service reps, new business processors, and underwriters are the people creating your customers’ experience. To drive process excellence, resolve burdensome processes with unreasonable turnaround times or obsolete tools and engage employees in creating their future-state. It’s also important to reassess employee rewards and incentives to ensure they are aligned with the new process and business objectives.
- 4. Is as efficient as possible with minimal handoffs and routing. Taking a close look at how you enable your processes allows you to make better decisions on organizing and automating the steps within a process.
- 5. Benefits from cross-functional collaboration with a strong process owner and advocate. Processes do not exist in silos. One process weaves into another and absorbs the output from still others. You must understand the intricacies of how your processes fit together in your value chain and ensure that links are clear and strong. Process accountability should be clear among everyone involved; although Agency Services may weigh in on a New Business process, the New Business leader owns the process and related decisions.
- 6. Exceeds service level expectations beyond the insurance industry. Insurers compete not only with other insurance providers but also with online service experiences from companies like Amazon and eBay. These companies raise expectations related to the ease of doing business, user experience, and services provided. You must not only understand how your competitors are operating but also consider how other industries are raising the bar for service excellence.
It may not be easy, but all Insurance providers should strive for the Holy Grail of process excellence. A truly exceptional process possesses many qualities – such as enriched internal and external experiences, efficient operations, and seamless integration with other business processes – that will set the organization up for success.