Delivering superior solutions, reducing change risks and costs, and ensuring employee buy-in. That is what innovation is all about.
While new innovations are occurring at an unprecedented rate, many insurance companies lack the resources to stay ahead of changes in their markets and adjust accordingly. With a thoughtful approach to innovation, however, any company can make small improvements that have a big impact on how they operate. If you’re ready to take your company’s innovation game to the next level and improve innovation in your industry, read on for actions to start right now.
Rethink status quo
Insurance companies often struggle to change because they’re not willing to let go of the status quo. It is easy to fall back on what has worked in the past. But, customers have changed and expectations have changed. You have to be willing to let go of the process that you’ve relied on for many years in order to stay relevant in today’s market. This might mean working with technology external experts to implement new solutions that provide your clients with better experiences. You can also look into implementing new business models that make it easier for you to deliver innovative solutions to your customers.
Foster continuous improvement
While it may be tempting to get everything done in a single period of time, it’s important to pace yourself and allow time for improvements to materialize. No matter how much you’d like to change and be the first to introduce a new feature, you’ll only get so far with innovation if you don’t first focus on continuous improvement and what is really valuable. By continually looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your company, you’ll be in a better position to introduce new features and services as they become available.
Think on process as journeys to create value
For each product or initiative, innovation teams should prepare a business case carefully documenting all assumptions. Business cases can be turned into clear milestones and stage gates to guide a set of pivotal assumptions that can change the course of action. With the business case on hand it is easier to set up to start improvements towards the minimum “valuable” product. That is, thinking about what incremental improvement can be made that generates value for the client, for the employees / agents in their day-to-day productivity and, of course, for the insurance company as a whole.
Find ONE task to change
Failing to take a critical look at your processes can often lead to completing a task in a way that doesn’t bring the company the results it needs. If you’ve been re-using tools, processes, and systems that are no longer relevant, it’s time to step back and critically examine your operations and toolset. Identify where your current tools aren’t working by asking yourself What triggers the resolution in case of an exceptional event? for example: · What happens after a bill doesn’t get paid? or after an email bounces? If those exceptions go to human agents, your problem might be too many employees doing too many tedious tasks that take too long and upset customers. The key is to identify where manual tasks break operational flow. Start picking up one of those small tasks and innovate a little bit. Rinse and repeat.
Create a culture of innovation
A great way to kick off an innovation initiative is to look for ways to foster a culture of creativity and innovation within your company. How your team members interact with one another and their role in the company’s strategy is just as important as any particular innovation initiative. By fostering a culture of creativity and innovation, you can encourage your team members to think outside the box, look for new ways to solve problems, and identify new opportunities for growth. By creating a culture where innovation is encouraged and embraced, your company will be in a better position to make improvements that have a meaningful impact.
Discover the innovators among us
What many organizations fail to realize is that you can’t just hire a team of innovators. You should always look for employees who want to take their skills to the next level and have an entrepreneur mindset interested in expanding their knowledge and gaining new skills.. You can find these types of people by going through your existing staff and getting feedback on who knows what and who could be ready to take the next step. Creating communities of practice is also one of the best ways to bring together a network of experts in the industry who can share insights and help each other grow. Communities of practice can help stay on top of the latest developments in the market, help find solutions to new challenges.
Involve employees in the process
If you want to create a culture of creativity and innovation, it makes sense to begin by involving your staff in the process. As a leader, you can help foster a culture of creativity and innovation by making an effort to include your team members in the decision-making process. This can be done in a variety of ways, from holding an open forum to conducting one-on-one interviews. Fostering a culture of creativity and innovation requires more than just introducing new tools or processes, it also requires a change in how employees are being approached. By involving your team members in the decision-making process, you can help foster a culture of creativity and innovation by encouraging your staff to think outside the box and look for new ways to solve problems.
Get outside resources on board
While your team members are critical to creating a culture of creativity and innovation, it’s also important to look for ways to bring in external resources and partners to dynamize innovation. Bringing in outside partners and resources can help you meet specific goals and objectives more quickly and efficiently, and it can also help to create a culture of collaboration that crosses organizational boundaries. By partnering with external resources and bringing in experts from other organizations, you can create a culture of collaboration that helps to foster a culture of creativity and innovation.
Track and measure
Insurance companies typically don’t measure their success (and failure) well enough. This is a huge oversight that can be easily corrected by starting to track key metrics and make sure you’re making progress in the right direction. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of your business and forget that it’s important to track key metrics. By just tracking a few key metrics, you can easily see where improvements need to be made and make them in a timely manner.
Innovation is not only about technology
To really innovate, you also need to invest and compromise on other essential aspects of your business, such as your product design and marketing strategy. When it comes down to refreshing your product design and value proposition, you need to ensure that you are not only responding to changes within the industry and the market, but you also need to incorporate new technology and approaches, such as customer engagement models that are designed to be more personalized and offer better channel coverage going forward to hybrid distributions models.
Reinventing the existing agent channel
To address the needs of multi-access customers, the strategy of choice for many of these companies is to start with the digitization of the existing agent channel. The aim is full channel integration to a seamless, consistent customer experience that puts customer needs at the center. This approach does not necessarily view a tied agent as an obligatory intermediary but rather as someone who adds value where needed with expert advice and service. Support the sales activities of the existing agent network by using digital tools to interact with customers as advisers in key touch points of the digital journey.
The insurance industry is always under pressure to innovate and find new ways to stay relevant to consumers. This kind of pressure is an opportunity in disguise and a chance to improve how you operate and interact with your customers. An insurance company with a well-thought out innovation plan in place is one that is well positioned to meet the challenges ahead. By following these five steps, you can improve innovation in the insurance industry and make your company more successful.