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Transforming Change Into Opportunity
Carole Coad
Commercial Account Executive & Commercial Lines Manager, Ron Johnston Insurance
Jeff Kidd
Manager, Business Development Programmed Insurance Brokers
Muqit Aziz
President BrokerUnion
If there was ever a time to embrace change, it’s now. With the world evolving at a rapid pace, change has been happening whether we like it or not. The question is, how will you choose to adapt? We spoke with three brokers on how their brokerages adapted to change over the past year.
As a business, what are the risks of not adapting to change?
JK: The pace of change is rapid and keeping up with technological expectations is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. These needs are dictated by our clients in the form of convenient online quoting, simplified confirmation of coverage/renewals and ensuring that the claim experience is optimal for all parties. Change within any organization structure is also imperative. We need to ensure that from our culture to our operating systems, we’re receptive to change. If our brokerage, staff, systems and business model don’t evolve, we’d inevitably lose clients and miss out on future opportunities. We need to offer convenience, quality service and enhanced products while continuously adapting to the ever-changing insurance landscape.
MA: In an industry as competitive as ours, it’s important for brokerages to differentiate themselves to attract and retain staff and clients. Not only is not adapting to change risky, it can have a major impact on staff productivity, possible employee turnover, poor client experience and added financial costs.
CC: As in life, the business world is in constant forward motion. With advances in technology and process, by not adapting to change, businesses risk the loss of their competitive edge, which can directly relate to a company’s success.
Not only is not adapting to change risky, it can have a major impact on staff productivity, possible employee turnover, poor client experience and added financial costs.
What are some of the KPIs you use when working on a change project?
CC: As brokers, the most important asset is time. Time spent nurturing client relationships balanced with time spent processing and completing tasks. A KPI when working on a change project needs to look at the number of planned work hours to complete each project phase. As you move through each phase, by looking at the actual time spent, it will show you how close you are to correctly estimating task duration and if there are major differences you’d need to investigate and alter your processes.
JK: We’ve made understanding our clients and their expectations a priority. Like many brokers, the focus is on growth, retention, client satisfaction and the journey. Our key goals, tactics and project milestones focus on KPIs like client retention measured by PIF, GWP and loyalty dates, ROI with a focus on our change project based on processes and efficiencies found, and referrals from our center of influences, network and existing clients—to name a few. When we create a change project the entire flow and metrics have constant check-balances around objective, measures, optimization and overall success.
MA: Transitioning your business from a traditional insurance brokerage to a hybrid model, you need to define KPIs that help manage, control and provide structure to people that will help you adapt to change. Some to consider are time frame (projected hours needed to implement the change vs actual time spent), dollars budgeted within the time frame (actual budget variance), effectiveness of the change by measuring customer and staff complaints and feedback, and number of mistakes or downtime.
How has your brokerage adapted to the changes that have happened in the past two years?
MA: As a relatively new brokerage, we were fortunate to invest in technology from the beginning that enabled us to continue our operations without much change. With cloud based systems, our staff and brokers can log-in from virtually anywhere. This has allowed greater flexibility for staff and has improved not only morale but productivity. One example of adapting to change is that we’re using video conferencing technology to be able to have quick meetings and share screens just like how we used to in the office.
JK: We outlined our change project in 2019 with a focus on improving broker processes and the customer experience. With solid project outlines and management, we’ve updated our BMS with Applied EPIC, launched online quote tools and implemented PIB Policy Centre with self-serve capabilities for our clients. We’ve also overhauled many of our daily processes with a focus on client needs and efficiencies and adapted optimal work/life balance for our team members while stepping up our service delivery platforms for our clients.
CC: The major change is the advancement and roll out of new technology—from automating processes, implementing a client portal that allows our clients access to their data and onboarding additional products that enable quicker customer response time. It’s been an opportunity to look at how we do business and discover how to leverage our unique value-added position as brokers.
How do you stay motivated when starting something new?
CC: I’ve always pushed for growth in our industry. With the advancements of technology and the constantly changing responsibilities of the broker channel, there’s always room to grow and make things better. It’s the idea of growth, streamlining process and making our jobs easier that keeps me motivated to start something new and look at new ways of doing business for the benefit of all the people I work with.
JK: Motivation starts with planning, like putting the right team members on a project with clearly defined goals and expectations like timelines and desired outcomes. Planning isn’t enough. To stay motivated it’s important to recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments along the way. Project management, weekly check-ins, monitoring and recognizing accomplishments throughout the process empowers team members. This can be accomplished by offering work-from-anywhere options, flexibility, breakfast or lunch meetings and ensuring there’s open communication.
MA: For everyone to be motivated, it’s extremely important for everyone to buy in to change. They need to be convinced that what’s new is imperative to the survival of the business. Constant communication and updates are necessary to keep people motivated. It’s extremely important to celebrate small milestones when achieved.
What does success look like after change has been implemented at your brokerage?
JK: Success is an ongoing journey with many milestones along the way. It can be in the form of check points during the execution or the ongoing evaluation of goals and objectives. At our brokerage we were able to transition to a new BMS over the last year after outlining a clear project and implementation strategy. We were able to move most of our data mapping fields and solely use our new BMS. We’ve continued spin-off projects to add to the new BMS and its capabilities. The inevitable success will be cost savings, enhanced and personalized client communications and process automation.
CC: Success after implementation is two-fold. One is employee engagement—does the change result in higher employee engagement in the new process? If so, then this is a good measure of the quality of the change. Second is measuring positive impact on company performance, be that customer satisfaction/retention or increase in sales revenue.
MA: Success can be measured according to a company’s own metrics. For our brokerage, it’s measured by improved efficiency, ability to be agile and adapting to change without compromising customer experience.
CC: Professionally, I always want to ask myself how best to represent, lead for growth and be willing to adapt to change. I want to continue to learn from the people around me. It’s important that I always try to understand and support the individual strengths and weaknesses of the people I work with. Change isn’t easy for everyone, but by taking the time to understand hesitation and overcoming those fears, we can all grow and change together.
JK: As a newer member of the team, I’m primarily focusing on improving our brand recognition and working on enhancements to our CRM system, with a focus on personalized communication and access to our wide range of offerings. For 2022, we’ve outlined clearly defined strategies, tactics and objectives to ensure our brand promotion is optimized by EPIC, tracking, reporting and measuring. It’s not going to be easy or accomplished in a year, but change is part of our growth and retention platform.
MA: I’d like to have better balance in my work and personal life thanks to technology that allows us to do almost everything off-site.
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