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Digitizing the Insurance Sales Force: 7 Preliminary Questions


For Asia-Pac insurers looking to implement a point of sale and services solution, we offer key pointers that will ease the transition and generate maximum benefits.

For Asia-Pac insurers looking to implement a point of sale and services solution, we offer key pointers that will ease the transition and generate maximum benefits.

Rapid changes in the technology landscape are changing the way insurers worldwide do business in the digital era, especially how they engage with customers. With tech-savvy millennials expecting greater focus and personalized attention, insurers, particularly those in the technology-intensive, digitally leading Asia-Pac region are feeling pressure to digitize their sales forces and transform the engagement process. As a result, many insurers in the region are creating state-of-the-art point of sale and services (PoSS) systems offering an enhanced customer experience. 

Figure 1

But finding the right implementation and adoption approach is the key to ensuring the success of such initiatives. “One size fits all” does not apply in transitioning toward digital distribution. Rather, careful evaluation of each organization’s operational levers and close attention to key metrics are required. To enable PoSS digitization and maximize benefits, we offer the following set of key initial questions:

Why should APAC insurers embark on the PoSS digitization journey?

Reasons include gaining strategic first-mover advantage, establishing a differentiator, catching up on market trends, etc. Companies are wise to invest to stay relevant in their markets, and to enable a move into new, technology-driven distribution systems or markets. Digitization can play a critical, make-or-break role.  

Which channel should be prioritized for PoSS solution adoption?

A PoSS solution should benefit all channels: agency, bancassurance or other partners. Organizations should weigh competing channels to decide which needs the solution first. Key parameters influencing the decision include: the size of the channels, the insurer’s ability to influence them and the channels’ willingness to embrace change. The direct-to-customer channel is increasingly seen as cost-effective and able to attain wider reach quickly. Key drivers for this segment are platform agility and product launch turnaround time. Far-sighted companies are aiming to enable an omnichannel experience for new-age customers willing to hop across channels for various services through the entire policy lifecycle.

Should we just digitize existing PoSS processes or seek help?

Insurers now reach out to customers in multiple digital ways. Equipping representatives who meet with customers with digital tools is key, as this renders the entire process simple and guided. To satisfy expectations of both customers and sales forces, companies aim to achieve productivity and efficiency improvement of processes as part of the digitization initiative. Insurers have taken a two-pronged approach while embarking on the digitization journey: First, they conduct a discovery phase to understand the need from all angles and to devise an implementation strategy, and second, they identify and implement the right solution. Companies often enlist outside expertise to assist in the discovery phase and engage a different partner for solution identification and implementation.  

How should we plan the rollout of features – big bang or incremental?

Providing an end-to-end digital PoSS experience gives the sales force the complete benefits of digitization and maximizes productivity improvements. But this approach also means a longer time to market. Alternately, insurers can opt for incremental rollout, first addressing the big pain points. For example, financial need analysis and illustrating benefits might be more critical to convince a prospect to buy, and thus may be more important to an agent compared with the e-application process.  

How important is offline capability in digitizing PoSS?

Calculations and process-intensive transactions are not desirable online, especially in regions where connectivity is not up to high standards. Offline transacting ability looms large when it comes to an enhanced user experience that leads to smooth sales closure. Sales teams detest making customers wait for each transaction owing to connectivity or processing lags. Dividing transactional activities into an intelligent split of online/offline capabilities based on functional and technological limitations is an effective sales approach.

For PoSS solution, is bring your own device (BYOD) the way to go? 

Distributing devices to the channels enables insurers to enforce adoption, but it’s usually cost-prohibitive and difficult to achieve complete coverage. However, asking users to bring their own devices has a risk since investing in a device might itself be a significant barrier to adoption. Some insurers reimburse users for the device once they achieve certain predefined sales targets. This approach creates an elevated sense of ownership among users. 

Whom should be trained first – an elite sales team or multiple distributors?

Identifying the right first user group should be methodically conducted by analyzing needs and readiness. The first user group will be the change leaders, and should be help champion adoption. Quite often a pilot exercise is conducted to devise a structured roll out plan based on the chosen group.

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