November 30, 2023

The Enlightened Agency Pyramid: Level 3 - Standardizing Workflows

When the competition is fierce and the demand for efficiency is unceasing, standardizing workflows helps provide consistency and efficiency for sustained success.

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In an industry as dynamic and intricate as insurance, where every written policy represents a unique blend of risk and protection, standardizing workflows to ensure accuracy is essential. This involves establishing consistent, well-defined procedures and processes that are followed diligently across an organization. And while it's true that personalization remains at the heart of the insurance business, the strategic implementation of standardized workflows is crucial to thriving in today's rapidly evolving landscape.

We've created the Enlightened Agency Pyramid to illustrate how brokers and agencies should approach operational excellence.  

Our previous blog spoke about level 2 of the pyramid, the importance of standardizing core systems. But in the insurance industry, professionals need to establish clear and defined work processes, too. When the competition is fierce and the demand for efficiency is unceasing, standardizing workflows helps provide consistency and efficiency for sustained success.

This is the next level of our Enlightened Agency Pyramid. 

So, let's discover how and why standardizing workflows is key to successful insurance agencies. 

Why standardizing workflows is important

When you're running an insurance business at scale, you'll more than likely have people working in various offices who generally complete the same tasks and have the same, or similar, job function. Therefore, with processes being repeated by various agents, it's important for people to complete tasks consistently. 

For example, if a process is client-facing, agencies should strive to deliver a consistent client experience: A recurring customer expects familiar interactions, regardless of which agent they're speaking with.

If it's an internal process, consistency is vital, as whoever completes the action needs to ensure consistent inputs and outputs. It's inevitable for employees without standardization policies to complete processes in their own way as no agent wants to be a machine-like worker.  That being said, consistency is essential within a business environment and that creates the need for standardization.

Standardization is also crucial for quality, as improved efficiency increases the probability of high-quality outcomes. Furthermore, it also helps agents troubleshoot; if an issue occurs, agents can retrace the workflow process and identify where the problem has occurred. For example, when a customer requests a change to a policy, it’s important that agents follow a consistent process to request the change with the carrier, update the policy, notify the customer and document their work. 

In general, workflows are similar across customer segments. However, certain segments are unique and require a different approach. For example, within the entertainment industry, where projects include shooting films and producing shows, the policies don’t follow the traditional annual cycle but rather have fixed durations, potential extensions and no renewals. For policies like that, it's crucial to have specific, well-documented workflows to ensure a client’s project has just the right duration of coverage.  

How to standardize workflows

Implementing standardized workflows within an insurance brokerage is a multi-step process that involves careful planning and a commitment to change. So, here's our four-step guide to help you get started:

Assessment and planning:

Begin by understanding your existing workflows. Document and analyze the processes by outlining each step, allowing you to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas where standardization could result in improvements. Next, define your clear objectives; these should align with your business goals, such as improving efficiency, reducing errors, and enhancing customer service. Remember to involve key stakeholders in the planning process, including management, underwriters, agents, and support staff. 

Design standardized workflows:

Start with the core workflows that can benefit from standardization; these will be the most repetitive processes, usually including client onboarding, renewals, the claims process, policy changes/endorsements, invoicing, and the payment process. Considering your objectives and best practices identified in step 1, create detailed documentation outlining important steps, key participants, individual responsibilities and required outputs. And, if possible, implement workflow automation tools (like Broker Buddha) or software to streamline operations, help enforce standard procedures, and reduce manual tasks.

Testing and refinement:

Conduct pilot programs to test the standardized workflows in a controlled environment, gather participant feedback, and make necessary adjustments. The key to sustained success is establishing a culture of continuous improvement, which involves regularly assessing the effectiveness of the standardized workflows and refining them based on performance metrics and feedback.

Training and change management:

Provide training to employees on the new standardized workflows and ensure they understand the updated processes and tools. Communicate the benefits of standardization and involve employees in the transition process. This training should be continuous to ensure that procedures are followed and employees refrain from resorting to previous methods. 

As the insurance landscape continues to evolve, embracing standardization isn't merely a choice; it's a necessity for those aiming to remain competitive and meet the evolving needs of customers. By understanding the significance of workflow standardization and how to implement these processes, insurance agencies are better equipped to embark on a journey toward greater efficiency, heightened customer satisfaction, and sustainable growth in a rapidly changing world. Find out how to automate workflows, Level 4 of the pyramid, in our final post here.

If you’re looking to become an Enlightened Agency, get in touch and book a demo today to start your journey to digitization.

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