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Fact finds in the digital era

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In this article Brian Hannan, an experienced life distribution specialist, explores the history of digitisation of fact-finding and explains why tablets are the ideal medium for new digital needs analysis tools.

Editorial Comment from The Digital Insurer

In this article Brian Hannan reminds us that the digital revolution is not new whilst at the same time articulating and identifying the new opportunities offered by tablet technology.

Digital fact finds are not new

In 1991, a major project for that year was to convert our mixed age and experience Agency Salesforce into 20th century agents and managers using the best point of sale technology at that time.  As little was available on the shelf, it was decided to appoint a specialist software house to design a bespoke system.  A key objective was to recreate on computer what we had developed over many years on paper – a highly successful sales system.  The software would also have to integrate with all back office systems ensuring that agents and managers would be provided daily with policy updates, birthday lists, anniversaries, unpaid premiums list – down the telephone line.  Awake, power up laptop, dial in, log in, shower, breakfast and your day was ready for review.

 

Figure 1 = Digital Advisor tools in the 1990's

Figure 1 : Digital Advisor Tools in the 1990’s!

 

Pause – this was 22 years ago, imagine the technology of the time.  Compaq portable, 286/386 processor and WOW! 20 MB Hard Disc, Dial Up – still it was achieved and was a success.

 

 

 

 

 

Basically the reward for the field force was that if you pick up and follow the system and use the Digital Fact Find you would enjoy many benefits.  The reality was that they could not wait to get their hands on the technology.

We also established from research and consumer testing that there were many more benefits of using the system:

  • Clients were impressed with the professionalism and investment made to improve their customer experience, helping establish trust.
  • Their needs gap was more easily believed, as it was simple to understand and with indisputable projections assist with trust building.
  • Clients were prepared to commit more to solutions as the need was recognised more readily.
  • Average premium commitment was 25% to 30% higher than non-digital solutions.
  • Activity rates and productivity rates improved significantly due to management of data in = data out, marketing database potential and referrals.
  • “One company one process” approach made training better, easier and retention capability was higher due to an improvement in the Customer/Agent experience.

Digital Needs Analysis – experience matters

Anthony Robbins in his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, talks about Role Models and models of good practice:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”You can have a role model for your profession, someone who has navigated the rapids before you and has a good map for you to follow.  They can save you years of pain and keep you from going over the falls.”[/quote]

So first things first – if you want to have a digital insurance POS solution:

  • Is the manual process you have adopted the best model of practice that it can be?
  • Has it been designed and tested for success?
  • Have you got role models who can be champions of the process?
  • Do your people subscribe to the process as a “Model of Best Practice”? If so will they do it as you want it to be done?

If they will follow your direction then modeling good practice for success will produce the results.  If there were a best way for your agents and managers to conduct themselves with “your” customers, wouldn’t you want them to do so?

Fact finding is not form-filling, it’s a conversation!

Whether paper based or digital, fact finding if conducted professionally with a customer, is always a conversation.  Navigating through a paper based form, agents tend to follow a linear approach filling in details page by page.  This is a habit that is hard to change and it detracts from the customer experience.  Worst-case scenario is that the entire attitude is, ‘this is something that has to be done’ – to satisfy the company or the regulator.

Professional Financial Advisers have always known that conducting a thorough and professional meeting with their customer is a structured, practiced conversation, which captures the most appropriate and relevant information.

Subsequently it will help to satisfy an identified, prioritised need, giving the ability to justify the most appropriate and fair recommendation to the customer.

 Digitisation promotes conversation

Tablets allow an advisor to co--create  solutions with their customers

Figure 2 :Tablets allow an advisor to co–create solutions with their customers

 

 

 

From a well-designed front screen it is easy to navigate to any part of the process so that information is collected in a more natural manner.  If you are discussing the children’s future education for example, with a touch of a finger you can go straight to Schools and Universities in your library to view costs now and future. This can be designed for all need areas.

 

 

 

Digital Needs Analysis

Digital Insurance Media allows for easy updates to information for future appointments. It’s a powerful presentation medium when support information can be carried in a private Digital Library or Resource Centre. It reminds you of important questions to ask, no more missed important information or business opportunities.

Figure 3 below provides a typical Fact Find process that allows the advisor to get to know the customer.

Figure 3 - Typical fact find process

Figure 3: Typical fact find process

Solutions, recommendations and actions

The second part of any customer meeting now needs to get to the specifics:

  • What solutions can I offer from my company’s product range to meet the customer’s need/s?
  • Why is that solution in particular the most suitable?
  • Meeting or adjusting the budget available

This often requires a second meeting in order to select the right solutions, assemble all the paperwork, prepare the correct proposal documents, additional questionnaires but now of course this can all be contained within the  Tablet.  Information gathered during the Fact Find process is of course automatically populated into subsequent documents.

The Tablet Opportunity – present and future

Creativity clashed with capability years ago as the digital world evolved, but other than a few geniuses amongst us, little did we know then that Digital today and in the future, would only be limited by our creativity.

Having the right information about your company, your services, your solutions assembled in the best way, in the hands of a well-trained adviser will bring an enriching experience to the customer. And remember -many customers are already ahead of you in that they already have Tablet technology; they use it to research their needs, compare products and services and to make decisions about purchases.

The 21st Century Adviser working in a partnership with Technology through creative design and skill development will inform and educate the customer in making appropriate choices and decisions. Digital insurance solutions are no longer a surprise to customers at the point of sale, they are in fact an expectation. So how do you want your Advisers to appear to your 21st Century Customers?

Technology should not be a barrier

A new CEO once made a brave statement to all in his first company town hall meeting : “ My message to you all today is that IT will never be used as an excuse for not progressing with a good idea in this company”

And the great news is that Table Solutions for advisory salesforces is an easy business case to make as they will:

  • Improve your customers’ experience of your company and assist them to make important decisions faster
  • Dramatically improve your advisers’ ability to communicate with your customers and improve success and retention
  • Grow premium income through improved retention of business, higher average premiums, improved spread of business, repeat sales and significantly more referrals and introductions
  • Drive up the quality of business completed, improving compliance standard and ensuring fair dealings for the customer through active monitoring of live data gathering

The Digital Tablet Solution decision is really not about do we have the budget to do this or should we start doing this, it’s really about designing a plan and getting started on the first steps towards achieving your digital solution:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]“To design a complex system is simple, to design a simple system is complex”[/quote]

So like all things in life the first step is to start – and start by designing your fact find process. Good luck with your Digital initiatives!

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