Innovation Management Wisdom

Posts with the tag 'independent insurance brokers'

Insurer Shifts its Mindset to Win Back Independent Brokers

A top-ten insurer wanted to improve its relationships with independent insurance brokers, the channel through which the company generated most of its sales. An experience management audit revealed that brokers had grown increasingly frustrated with the company.The company’s broker satisfaction studies showed declining ratings across the board. Some brokers had stopped selling some of the company’s products. Most company leaders guessed that high pricing and poor customer service contributed to broker sentiment.

For years, the only feedback that most managers viewed as credible was a closed-end broker satisfaction survey.  This provided no opportunity for managers to act on issues outside of those addressed in the survey.

We’ve seen organizations get tunnel vision from focusing too much on survey results before. The company’s numbers-driven culture served it well in pricing products and handling claims, but not in managing broker relationships. 

We scheduled a discovery session with the management team. We knew that when we aired our observations about the company’s focus on the broker survey, it would create a fleeting, valuable opening for managers to question the status quo. And, they did.

Several managers seized the opportunity to publicly criticize the broker survey process.  They said it didn’t address several recent breakdowns in the company’s broker relationship management process.  This got the attention of the rest of the team.  It also created a new openness among team members to learn what was really going on with brokers.

Whyze Group conducted one-on-one interviews with brokers in every region.  It turned out that brokers regarded the company’s underwriting and customer service operations highly.  Pricing was an issue among a small minority.

The real problem was brokers’ growing mistrust of the company. Brokers were increasingly suspicious that their hard-won books of business would be decimated when the company unilaterally withdrew products from some markets.  This had been happening with increasing frequency over the previous three years.

Some brokers simply stopped investing altogether in selling our client’s products.  They increasingly turned to selling products from competing insurers whom they regarded as more committed.

Adding to the mistrust, retiring brokers’ books of business were sloppily transferred to the brokers who bought them.  Sometime, multiple brokers divided these books.  There was little transparency in this process and perceptions of unfairness and favoritism prevailed.

Whyze Group facilitated the management team through design sessions aimed at increasing the transparency, accuracy and timeliness of these transfers.  The team also reconsidered making its contracts more favorable for brokers in light of the company’s desire to maintain flexibility in moving in and out of markets.  These and other broker experience innovations are being implemented with the support of the CEO and executive committee. 

October 7th, 2008


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