A recent survey by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) found that brokers believe they are working well when it comes to innovation. The respondents of BIBA’s survey weren’t so sure about whether insurance companies are leading in the innovation space though – with 42% saying that they haven’t embraced innovation well at all. What’s more 44% of brokers felt that software houses, who are supposed to be the tech leaders, were not innovative enough.
When brokers were asked about the reasons for why they weren’t able to innovate, 77% of respondents said they blamed the cost of implementation followed by software house development (62%). Education is clearly needed too because 39% said that a lack of awareness of options was a barrier. Meanwhile others (38%) clearly felt knowledgeable enough and blamed the disruption of business processes as being a big turn-off to embracing innovation. Only 14% of brokers believed that it was, in fact, their interest that was a barrier to innovation.
Despite the fact that there were several reasons cited for the lack of innovation among brokerages - clearly there’s a lot of unhappiness when it comes to the service brokers are getting from their software providers.
While this may be true I’d be hard-pressed to agree with most of their sentiments because I believe that software houses, particularly the smaller, more agile providers DO innovate. If you’ll indulge me, I can run through some examples of what we, as SchemeServe, can do and how this helps our clients to be innovative:
We offer ‘speed to market’: We all want to know more about our customer but at times we try to find out if we can do so at arms length much like social media platform, Facebook, have done with their wealth of data. But innovation doesn’t have to involve scanning people’s irises or taking their finger prints to work out who they are, what they do and how big their family is. At the root of it all, it’s a simple case of calling a customer and getting to know them better by being conversational and asking the right questions.
However, in our industry time does equate to money and there are certainly a lot of things we can automate. If you want to collect data or try something different we’re here to help. Often a strict timetable is what slows down uptake of technology, but when it comes to SchemeServe if someone comes up with something that they want to do in a short period of time – we can get it done quickly. If you are prepared to change your processes and be flexible you will find that SchemeServe is extremely responsive.
For example, we can create a scheme and put it live in a few days. This may sound ludicrous as a project like that will usually take months when it comes to bigger software providers and there’s often a huge cost associated with that type of experimentation.
But if you want to trial something through SchemeServe then you can do so. We allow you to be experimental without the enormous price tag. I can understand though why most brokers hold back from innovative ideas if they are tied to a large software provider. You’re often persuaded to run your idea as a major project and you’d be reluctant to do so when you have no idea what the results will be. The high price tag that comes with this type of experimentation is, in my mind, what stops innovation because brokerages can’t try things that they are uncertain about, cheaply.
SchemeServe allows for the ‘sharing’ of your products. Perhaps you want to expand your product offering but you’re not quite sure how. But you do know several others in the industry that have products that your customers may be interested in.
However, your business is all about offering car insurance to your customers. But suppose you want to expand and try out a new product, like breakdown cover, because you think your customers would benefit from it. While you have the connections, the problem is that you don’t have a way of offering breakdown insurance.
What SchemeServe allows you to do is to make other company’s products part products. We call it ‘SchemeSharing’. Our solutions effectively give you access to unlimited white-labelling tools. You can create new websites and brands quickly without any fuss.
Again we make it really easy to do this and to experiment. Through our solution you can sell another company’s product on their behalf and still retain the business. You can create an offering that looks like one product rather than make it look like there are numerous separate products. It effectively allows you to be a distributor with minimal fuss.
We can help you with integration: Integration can often be a problem. But we can do lots of different types of integration and join lots of different systems together so that it becomes part of your eco-system.
And there are plenty of benefits to doing so. Here’s a basic example - when someone calls in we can record the conversation so you got evidence of your customer’s requests/records. We make forms simpler too because there’s things that many customers expect to occur automatically these days – such as getting their address from a postcode.
But just putting your application form online, that can pre-populate your customer’s information automatically, is nowadays not enough to get you more sales because it’s important to know where your customers come from. This is why SchemeServe integrates with Google Analytics and the newer Google Tag Manager to allow you to analyse your customer visits in acute detail.
Meanwhile the SchemeServe API also allows developers to quickly and simply integrate any existing software with SchemeServe and to easily build components and widgets to complement any solutions you have or to re-sell. For more information, see our API documentation.
While I have pointed out that savings can be made by switching to a smaller provider, cost will always be a factor when it comes to innovation. But this is because sometimes companies tend to only look at the cost of implementation and not how much money they could make out of what they’ve added to their offerings.
Even if you think cost is a problem – you need to still offset how much that software will cost you against your future income stream. At SchemeServe we try to make sure that your brokers are set up and trading by the time the invoice comes in. Yes, adding software can cost you lots of money but, in our view, if a software company can’t show you how you can make money from the add-ons they’ve provided they are selling it incorrectly. It’s important to ask the right questions and get answers. And if that is not provided clearly and succinctly then perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere at what another software provider could offer you.
Technology does have some role to play in helping you to attract customers. At the very least, it can help you deduce where your customers have come from and how they found you. Automation is vital but this can make the interaction with your customer less personal.
I think that day to day tasks can be farmed off to computers but technology should help enable brokers to do their work but not replace the broker-client relationship fully. It’s important to speak to your customer, particularly now when there’s still such a lack of understanding of financial products (their benefits and pitfalls) among consumers.
There’s really no excuse not to interact with the customer. Technology has made it easier for people to talk to one another as we can use Skype, social media platforms, emails or WhatsApp calls among other channels. We can make use of all these options to cater to our customers needs in the way they feel comfortable.
Younger generations can be very savvy when it comes to technology. But not everyone is an early adopter and older generations can be very sceptical, especially when it comes to conducting their financial affairs online. This is why it’s so vital to use technology and innovation as tool help you get to know customers better but not replace the service you give them.
If you have an idea that you think could benefit customers and expand your business you should go ahead and see it through. And when it comes to innovation, the bottom line is if you want something done, we can do it! We can do all sorts of stuff. We can build anything you like. Just let us prove it to you. Brokers often hear about the costs and how long a project will take. But we’re not all the same. Some of the smaller software houses are extremely focused on getting stuff done. We’ve all been tarnished with the same brush but if you don’t believe us then try us. What have you got to lose?