Brokerage Ops Technosavvy the July/August 2022 issue

Info Jam

Q&A with Joseph D’Souza, CEO, ProNavigator
By Michael Fitzpatrick Posted on July 19, 2022
Insurance is built on information and data, but can there be too much?
Definitely. In our world, there is an overflow of information, particularly for front-line insurance knowledge workers. There are a variety of things that they have to reference day to day, and that list continues to grow with all the changes and exceptions that are made. The ability to absorb that information is truly like drinking from a fire hose.
What’s the cost of being unable to find what you need at the right time?

How quickly staff can find various pieces of information varies by skill level and tenure. We see this specifically when working with learning and development teams who see firsthand what it takes for new hires to get onboarded, ramped up and productive. From our internal benchmarking, the average time a staff member spends searching for information equates to roughly $66 per day per staff member. Extrapolate this number, and it represents a significant expense for large and growing organizations.

It’s harder to quantify the opportunity cost of customers experiencing long initial wait times, being placed on hold while staff search for and consume information, and scheduling call backs. For instance, we know that small business commercial insurance companies are more likely to get the business, irrespective of price, if they can be among the first quotes returned. We also know that one negative or delayed interaction with their insurance provider can encourage customers to shop around upon renewal.

For the industry overall?
A conservative calculation based on our customer benchmarking, which is $66 per day per staff in time spent searching for information, multiplied by the 2.79 million employed in the U.S. insurance industry working 240 days per year equals $44 billion.
With so much new data being created every second, how can you assess what’s valuable?

What’s valuable to the company and what’s valuable to the front-line knowledge worker can be separate things and highly variable depending on the active task. We focus on serving up internal documents for quick reference—underwriting manuals, policy wordings, procedure manuals, job aids, and even internal communications like product bulletins or newsletters.

The company aims to promote consistency and accuracy by ensuring everyone is viewing the most complete, up-to-date versions. Since knowledge workers sift through a huge amount of documentation, they want to quickly modify and sort through the results based on the specifics of their task at hand, allowing them to deliver a quick resolution.

Can you give us an example?
Yes, an easy to conceptualize example is to imagine someone calling in with questions about water coverage. There are many different options and packages available, each with constantly changing limits, exclusions, regional restrictions, etc. Depending on the nature of the call, it wouldn’t be uncommon to reference both the guidelines and wordings, including referencing earlier versions if something has changed. You’d also check any recent communications to make sure nothing is missed, which could be as important as a binding suspension, and then, depending on tenure, you may reference procedure documents to ensure you’ve captured things correctly in your system. You might have to reference four or five different documents to get a complete view of all the information you need to assist a prospect or customer.
What are the information blockages that you see for agents and brokers?

Insurance knowledge workers—by this I mean the brokers, agents, and underwriters who are servicing demand—are required to be experts on a variety of ever-changing products and coverage offerings. Because of that, they reference a large volume of complex documents daily. Most organizations struggle with having multiple sources of information. It usually means multiple silos are created from the different sites and systems all with various pieces of information that they find and reference. All these locations, even if they are in the same system, are inconsistent in how they disseminate, label and organize information, which restricts access to the documents and makes general discoverability almost impossible. The volume of information continuing to increase and the rate of change being the highest it’s ever been only makes the problem more complex.

Off-the-shelf or homegrown systems also have a part to play. For insurance specifically, they usually require a large amount of customization and continual optimizations to have any lasting benefit. Given the lack of resources organizations constantly face, these systems quickly become disjointed and fragmented with limited ownership on the overall health of the system and ultimate value to the end user. What worked for knowledge management 10 and even five years ago doesn’t work well in today’s environment.

How does ProNavigator aid in training?

Our industry has a retiring workforce that’s creating challenges in staffing, recruiting and training across the industry. Finding qualified workers, onboarding them and keeping them is a top priority for many of our customers. Looking at investments in technology to ensure that employees have access to what they need when they need it is a critical piece of insurtech innovation.

Ramp-up time for new staff is a big investment of both time and money. We work very closely with learning-development teams to reduce the learning curve by pairing their expertise with the right tools. Today, a lot of the training is about how you use the system to find a piece of information, including using link farms and breadcrumb trails to navigate directories, where with the product we offer, the focus shifts to learning about the actual products and offerings they will be selling and servicing. A system like this, that’s intuitive and easy to use, builds confidence in staff and enables them to meet performance expectations sooner.

What role does AI play?
The insurance industry wastes a lot of time on the ancillary tasks required to perform a core role, almost to the point where we lose sight of what that core role is. AI helps in eliminating the unproductive manual tasks that we perform, which frees us up to add value where it’s needed most. ProNavigator focuses on a subset of artificial intelligence called natural language understanding. We use it in two ways—one being able to really understand the types of searches and topics that are unique to the insurance domain and secondly to digest all the knowledge documents into almost Google-like snippets of information that we’re very familiar with in our consumer world. We leverage machine learning and natural language processing to really understand the queries and find the correlating snippets contained within the knowledge documents and bring those two together.
What does it mean for customer experience?
Companies that can save time are going to win. Amazon is a market leader in their space, as they’ve found a way to save their customers enormous amounts of time when shopping. Similarly, Uber promises a car will arrive in three minutes, and it does. Consumers expect this predictably great experience when it comes to insurance as well. In a world where customers have more choices readily available to them, we really have to think about how we can sell and provide a service to our customers on their terms. It really comes down to satisfying the customer expectation of speed, convenience and instant gratification.
What’s next for ProNavigator?
We will be continuing to listen to and partner with our customers to deliver more value to their organizations. Last year, with their guidance, we launched commercial lines support for small and medium enterprise teams, but there is also a lot on the horizon, including moving beyond just knowledge management and into helping complete workflows.
Michael Fitzpatrick Technology Editor Read More

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