July 28, 2017
Why You Need Happy Producers (Part 2)
by Brad Denning, Anup Madampath and Atanu Ghosh
The need to differentiate yourself with your producers is more crucial than ever before.
In our previous post, we addressed the reasons for transforming producer management and compensation processes. In this post, we will cover key considerations when planning a transformation.
The transformation process begins with defining a clear and comprehensive compensation strategy to confirm the key functions of producer lifecycle and compensation management. Licensing, reporting hierarchies, contracting, commissions plan rationalization and debt management are some of the most critical functions that require enterprise level alignment and can lead to a significant change in the producer experience. Early discovery of such complexities can help you identify areas that may require strategic enterprise alignment and business champions. It also can help you identify your organization’s top priorities and pain points.
Take the contracting process. At face value, onboarding producers to sell your products is seemingly straightforward: recruit, onboard, appoint and help sell. However, upon closer examination, many organizations find this process cumbersome for both field and back office employees because it burdens them with a highly manual, paper-based data entry workflow that is subject to human error and inefficiencies.
See also: Agents: Here’s How to Differentiate
One of the the first touchpoints with your organization for producers is the onboarding process, which sets the tone for the field’s expectations of how easy it is to do business with you. Looking just a little beyond the producer experience, onboarding and contracting processes are anchored by licensing and appointment criteria that have immediate compliance implications. When taking into account the regulatory and state-specific rules governing insurance producer eligibility, as well as your organization’s own requirements and offerings (e.g., backdating appointments, just-in-time appointments), the contracting process typically is quite nuanced and complex. Neither a technology solution nor an operating model adjustment is a silver bullet to improve vague, inconsistent, poorly documented or non-compliant rules and processes.
The same concerns hold true for other aspects of producer lifecycle management, like reconciling producers’ debt or maintaining a producer’s reporting and compensation hierarchy. For example, when a producer is advanced for business with one line of service, do you recoup earnings from other lines of service to repay company debt? Is there a time window or debt threshold before cross-company recoupment occurs? Are there legal limitations? And, at an even more basic level, how do you want to manage debt, and is it something the field is interested in or concerned about? And, for hierarchies, do production and compensation follow the same arrangement? What exceptions do you currently allow, and what will you permit in the future? Without first answering such questions, incorporating field perspective or the organization’s long-term roadmap, you run the risk of 1) limiting the impact and quality of transformation you will ultimately undertake and 2) replicating current functionality in future-state platforms as a quick fix.
Before looking to the vendor marketplace for ideas on available products and services, take the time to fundamentally understand how your organization operates today and, perhaps more importantly, how you’d like to operate in the future. In doing so, you can first define where your organization is going and how you will differentiate yourself with producer servicing before selecting the best solution to get you there. Transformation partners can be especially helpful during this strategic phase, offering market insights that can help your organization plan for the future while promoting enterprise alignment and exceeding market parity. This type of holistic, forward-thinking, business-led exercise can prepare your organization to make the most of a transformative journey without feeling rushed into strategic decision making in the midst of implementation.
See also: The New Agent-Customer Relationship
In summary, the entire insurance industry is undergoing disruption from changing producer demographics, decreasing agent population, tighter margins, greater pressure on expense reduction, increasing producer expectations for service resulting from digital disruption and evolving customer segments that are always on the lookout for the “cheapest and best” way to buy insurance. Accordingly, the need to differentiate yourself with producers is more crucial than ever and managing the vital producer and compensation management function is critical.
After all, doesn’t a happy producer get you a happy customer? What are the other key areas within producer management and compensation that you think will improve your producer experience?