Guest blog by Andy Cowdrill, Ciber. The insurance industry is built on relationships: the face-to-face meetings, the in-person, highly personalised assistance, and—above all—the handshake. So why, one may wonder, would leading insurance companies be investing in customer relationship management solutions? Insurance organisations investing in their relationship management capabilities are following the path established by other industries that in recent years have looked to technology as a way to transform their businesses. A prime example of this is the banking industry, where, in the wake of increasing competition and stiffer regulations, many banks leveraged IT to improve the customer experience and streamline processes. As an IT consulting company, we’ve seen first-hand the various reasons companies pursue technology solutions. Our conversations with clients and prospects and dealings with requests for proposals and statements of work have given us considerable insight into the trends driving technology use. We have identified the following five reasons for insurance organisations’ increasing adoption of customer relationship management solutions. 1. Competing in a soft market Every client we meet with talks of the market being soft and how they are looking for new ways to compete and grow their market share. Many are turning to technology as a way of getting ahead of their competition and to provide their employees with anytime/anywhere access to information. For a sector that was founded through face-to-face meetings in a coffee shop, this represents a substantial shift in working. How then can organisations provide highly personalised service through a very impersonal medium? And how can they serve up a range of relevant data that may be contained in any number of backend solutions at the click of a mouse? The answer for many of our insurance clients, once again, is CRM solutions leveraging integration to the back office. Today’s customer relationship management solutions for insurance sector don’t just consolidate information; they also provide the customer facing tools that let organisations extend access to personalised information and relevant solutions to customers and brokers, who can then use their phones or computers to easily request quotes, file claims, check claim status, review policies, chat with customer service agents and otherwise conduct business with the organisation on their own terms. 2. Provide real-time access to essential information As they strive to increase gross written premiums (GWP), many of our clients are focusing on eliminating those hurdles standing in their way. One of these is inefficient back-end processes. Imagine an underwriter getting ready for a meeting with a client. He or she needs to gather a lot of information: details about policies, complaints and claims; ongoing conversations captured in emails and notes; and research on the customer’s business and needs. It takes time to gather that information—and by the time the meeting is underway, the information is often out-of-date. However, by providing anywhere/anytime access to an insurance CRM solution, leading insurance organisations are giving their underwriters and business development executives immediate access to the real-time information they need, no matter where they may be located—even when they’re in the middle of a meeting with a client or broker. Because they spend less time gathering information, they can spend more time using that information to drive new business 3. Increasing profitability Booking more business is a critical goal for all insurance organisations, but not all business is created equal. This raises an important question: How can one tell which business is worth chasing and which isn’t? Many of today’s successful insurance organisations are answering this question by using customer relationship management tools to tier their customers and brokers. By relying on analytics, they can look beyond the overall sales figures to see the factors that signal profitability and sales efficiency, such as the number of claims filed against a policy or the ratio of quotes to signed policies. This level of granularity lets insurers move beyond gut feelings to hard numbers to determine which customers and brokers to target and which ones may not be worth their time. 4. Taking the first step to transform the business The world is changing and businesses need to change with it. For some insurance organisations, the first step to enabling the type of transformation they need to succeed in today’s marketplace involves implementing extensive relationship management capabilities. While a powerful CRM solution for insurance sector is clearly meant to help organisations build and maintain stronger relationships with their customers, it can do much more. It can tie into the company’s complaints management solution, giving employees access to key metrics to ensure that complaints are researched and effectively dealt with in a timely manner so that they can avoid fines levied by regulatory bodies. It can also be used for compliance management to help organisations ensure they are complying with the numerous regulations governing their business. And because this information—complaints, compliance and more—is linked to customer and broker records, it gives insurance organisations even greater insight into their customers and brokers, helping them better serve those critical groups. 5. Leverage mergers and acquisitions to integrate business Over the last few years, market consolidation has become a big story for insurance organisations. Driven in part by dropping premiums and pension reforms, insurance organisations have turned to mergers and acquisitions as a way to bolster profits and increase their customer base. Yet whilst stories of success following mergers and acquisitions have emerged, they skim over the very real pain these consolidated organisations face when merging two very dissimilar organisations, especially when it comes to consolidating back-end solutions. These consolidated organisations are finding that one way to link together disparate solutions and databases is by adding a layer of relationship management tools, such as a robust cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for insurance. With this approach, organisations can connect siloed information to a front-end solution that creates a cohesive view into the merged organisation’s customer base. Details about quotes, policies, claims and other interactions are linked to individual customer and broker records, regardless of which organisation originated the business. We’ve seen this tactic work equally well with organisations with dispersed operating groups that wish to get a more complete view of their customers’ and brokers’ relationships with the organisation as a whole. Find out more about Ciber's CRM for Insurers solution Learn how Microsoft Dynamics Business Solutions can help your business: Learn more With over ten years of Microsoft solution sector experience, Andy Cowdrill heads up the Ciber team focused on the insurance and banking industries. In his role, Andy manages Ciber’s relationship with our key insurance and banking clients and with Microsoft. Andy and his team approach each client engagement in a consultative manner to understand the pain that our clients wish to resolve by leveraging Microsoft technology. He also works with the Ciber portfolio team to regularly update the Ciber solution roadmap for the insurance and banking sectors.