By: Johannah Rodgers
The marketing and sales support team at San Francisco-based West Coast Life used to spend a lot of time managing the production, distribution, and technical support of sales presentation software on CDs. Now, the team simply distributes a Web address to the company's brokers and agents, who access these presentation and illustration tools online.
Lance Burke, director, marketing and sales, West Coast Life, was happy with the functionality that the desktop version of Park City, UT-based LifeLink's WinFlex had provided the insurer for several years, but he was also aware that "costs were spinning out of control in terms of supporting the physical distribution of software." So, when LifeLink Web was introduced in late 2002, Burke and histeam were among the first users to consider implementing the application.
A sales presentation and illustration reporting tool that supports multiple insurance carriers, WinFlex and WinFlex Web allow brokers and agents to create robust reports comparing various policy terms for a customer. As a single entry, multiple carrier interface (SEMCI) system, WinFlex allows for the comparison of more than 35 insurers and 200 entities, including deferred compensation, split dollar, pension maximization and term versus permanent. WinFlex Web can be used online, or downloaded to the desktop for local use.
Transition to the Web
"We had been using LifeLink on the desktop since 2000," explains Burke, "and when we looked at the manpower and time required to support the distribution of WinFlex desktop, it was obvious that there would be immediate benefits to transitioning to the Web version." These benefits included the elimination of technical support issues specific to CDs, as well as the reduction of wide-scale CD distribution. Longer term, the Web version will ensure the use of current software versions, make bug fixes available immediately and accelerate new product introductions.
Burke describes the field's response to the Web version as "phenomenal," adding, "our agents and brokers like the Web-based application because they can access it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, when sales people are at a client site, they don't even have to pull out their laptop, they can access the tools directly from the client's home PC."
Additional benefits cited by Burke relate to specific case and agent management functions in the Web-based application. "With the new agent management functions, I can easily see which agents are quoting our company frequently and I can make an unsolicited call to them in case they need additional support," he says. In terms of case management, the Web version supports document sharing, so multiple users can easily view specific case information.
WinFlex Web is sold on a license basis, which includes a set-up and monthly maintenance fee, and is hosted by LifeLink. West Coast Life initiated the WinFlex Web project in November 2002, and the application was being rolled out to users by early 2003. The project timeline included a thorough testing and approval phase.
Although the West Coast Life marketing team continues to support the desktop version for users who are less comfortable with the Web, Burke believes that the "future is definitely in these types of applications." With 500 users of the Web-based application currently signed up, Burke sees the numbers only growing. "We literally get hundreds of requests for the Web version each month," says Burke, "and LifeLink has made it possible from a licensing perspective to accommodate them."
Case Study Closeup
COMPANY: West Coast Life (San Francisco), a division of Protective Life Corp., ($19.7 billion total assets).
LINES OF BUSINESS: Life insurance.
VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: LifeLink Corp.'s (Park City, UT) WinFlex Web.
THE CHALLENGE: Eliminate physical distribution of sales software and replace local desktop applications with a Web-based solution.