Agents are the lifeblood of any insurance carrier. How an insurance business supports and engages with its agents can make or break its success. Yet, in our age of intelligent technology, many carriers continue to saddle their agents with ramshackle digital experiences that don’t enable agents to meet their individual goals – or the business’s goals.
Carriers may believe their business touts an agent-centered experience, but does their technology reflect the dedication to supporting agent performance and productivity? Today, carriers have a lot to gain by thinking strategically about the technologies they provide for agents and their managers. Think competitive compensation strategies, more effective compliance processes, and empowered, up-to-date agents who can achieve more.
Recently, I engaged with three insurance leaders who live and breathe the agent experience to learn how technology has helped real businesses better manage agents across the entire agent life cycle. Their insights shed light on the difference between intelligent enterprises and their competitors.
Enabling Agents to Achieve More at Bright HealthCare
Bright HealthCare is an American health insurance carrier serving more than 663,000 consumers. At Bright HealthCare, an integrated suite of agent management solutions empowers agents to make proactive decisions to service their customers and meet their goals. Matt Wandoloski, manager, Sales Operations, Bright HealthCare, says the business uses these solutions to provide agents with self-service capabilities, customizable dashboards, and on-demand access to data insights.
Experts say such features are becoming a must among agents.
“Keeping sellers motivated and focused on their sales goals is a critical challenge for many organizations. And it’s only magnified when you have a significant number of direct or a combination of direct and indirect agents,” David Palmer, senior manager, Deloitte, says. “Agents and sellers, in general, are constantly connected to their work, 24/7, 365 days a year, through their smartphones, tablets, and watches.”
Carriers should look for software solutions built specifically to support the agent management experience. The right solutions will provide access to tools and data insights the business can use to improve experiences for agents throughout the agent life cycle. At Bright HealthCare, the SAP Agent Performance Management solution helps agents view essential performance metrics and quickly find answers to some of their most pressing questions.
Wandoloski explains that Bright HealthCare also uses agent management solutions to incentivize agents to complete open enrollments sooner. The business can automatically or manually set bonuses for enrollments completed earlier in the year rather than later. When technology empowers leaders to quickly change their compensation plans, it means the business can act with agility when opportunities are hot.
While commission agreements in the industry are contractual, changing business needs means there is a greater need to have capabilities that allow carriers to be nimble and flexible – and pivot their commissions rules as the local business climate demands it. Since digitalizing agent management, Bright HealthCare can do just that.
“We noticed some of our competitors had changed their commissions schedule midyear starting in April when the special enrollment period started. We were easily able to adjust our commission incentive program so that we could pay a higher rate to stay competitive in the market,” Wandoloski says. “Simple, easy to test, midyear. We were able to make that change and get our workers paid.”
Providing Greater Insights for Managers at Independence Blue Cross
Agents aren’t the only ones who benefit from on-demand access to performance insights and other data. Managers can use this information to identify top earners and reward them accordingly. They can also find out which agents aren’t meeting their goals and encourage them to improve their sales skills through learning. At Independence Blue Cross, SAP Agent Performance Management helps provide all of this in one solution through intuitive dashboards and self-services.
The imperative for visibility, transparency, and compliance will never go away. The modern insurance carrier uses many systems to manage agents and their data. But you can break down silos between these systems and the incredibly important agent data within. For Independence Blue Cross, a fully integrated agent management solution provides audit-trail visibility and shows what data has been changed and when.
Edward Zebrowski, manager, Commissions and Ops Analytics, Independence Blue Cross, explains that agents and managers now have a view of agents’ education, certification, licenses, and other key compliance information. Providing self-service options has helped the business cut down on time spent answering questions related to certification statuses and other related information.
Outperforming Larger Competitors at Optima Health
Optima Health is a statewide carrier in the United States competing with many larger carriers in the marketplace. As a smaller carrier, it’s important for Optima Health to avoid mistakes and the costs related to them.
“We spend a lot of money in investments on our overhead fees and overrides that we pay to our FMOs,” Douglass Marquez, business analyst, Medicare Marketing, Optima Health, says. “It was important for us to put that power into brokers’ hands so that they can go out there and see what’s going on within their agencies and resolve a lot of issues before they get to the carrier, so we don’t have to.”
Optima Health relies on technology to create agent experiences that are as fulfilling as its larger competing carriers. Faster onboarding, self-service options, and continuous compliance keep the carrier competitive while providing agents with outstanding experiences that result in improved agent retention metrics.
Today, the SAP Agent Performance Management solution is helping insurance carriers enhance experiences for agents and create better outcomes for the business. To find out more, visit us online or listen to the recording of the webinar.
Rahul Iyer is global head of Sales Performance Management, Go to Market, at SAP SE.