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How Multi-line Insurance Companies Can Improve the Customer Experience

Capabilities within multiline companies are not owned by one organizational team, but may be spread across product lines. For example, the auto division may have its own payment capability, and the life division its own. To make matters worse, the "sales process" described above may also be different for the product lines. The result of process, capability and business silos, shows up as lousy customer experience.

By Raj Ramesh, TopSigma Consulting

All companies desire to improve their customer experience. Customer experience is the manifestation of business processes in the organization. A good process provides a good customer experience, and a bad one, a bad experience. Business processes are in turn composed of building blocks - sometimes called 'capabilities.' Therefore, to improve the customer experience, we need to improve some business processes, partly by improving the corresponding capabilities that are part of the process.In a single product company, the capabilities are cleanly separated. For instance, when the customer buys the product, the process steps will include first contact, needs analysis, product sales (that includes underwriting), payment, and confirmation of the contractual agreement. The company has different capabilities come into play in a specific order to make this happen.

The capabilities, such as payment in this example, are 'owned' and managed by one team, while another such as underwriting may be managed by another team. Usually these teams are aligned to the organizational structure. For example, payment may be managed by the finance department and underwriting by the underwriting department. As long as each capability has ownership, and each process has ownership, it's clear that the capability and process owners have to work together to create superb customer experience.

For multi-line companies organized along product lines, the challenge becomes more complicated. The capabilities are not owned by one organizational team, but may be spread across product lines. For example, the auto division may have its own payment capability, and the life division its own. To make matters worse, the "sales process" described above may also be different for the product lines. The result of process, capability and business silos, shows up as lousy customer experience.

To tackle the challenge, organizational leadership has to commit to enterprise integration that enables superb customers experience. How can this be accomplished? Each capability is assigned a business owner. This person is responsible for coordinating the work of their capability across product lines. Each process is also assigned a business owner, whose is responsible for coordinating process behavior and performance across product lines. The process and capability owners have to work with many organizationally structured teams across the enterprise to co-ordinate work.

However, the scope of such efforts is large and extends over many years. For example, what does "improving the sales process" really mean? How can the organization incrementally move towards integration of processes and capabilities? The starting point is in what I refer to as business scenarios. If we put ourselves in our customers shoes, we can walk through many end-to-end experiences that the customer has with the company. For example, the experience of a customer who is moving from the west coast to the east coast could involve a change of address, a policy update, and confirmation. This experience can be described in a business scenario. A business scenario is simply an actual manifestation of a process. There are many possible business scenarios for the same process, and even many more business scenarios across processes. Some business scenarios are just more 'valuable' than the others.

The next step would then be to identify those valuable business scenarios to improve or enhance. This in turn makes clear which business processes and which parts of those processes we need to improve. Once that is clear, the capabilities that need to be enhances becomes clear. Now, it becomes a question of execution, with the appropriate process owners and capability owners and the department heads working together to enable the right scenarios.

About the Author: Raj Ramesh, CEO of TopSigma Consulting, specializes in bridge organizational silos for insurance and financial services companies, aimed at establishing a better-connected enterprise and enhanced customer experience. He can be reached at [email protected]Capabilities within multiline companies are not owned by one organizational team, but may be spread across product lines. For example, the auto division may have its own payment capability, and the life division its own. To make matters worse, the "sales process" described above may also be different for the product lines. The result of process, capability and business silos, shows up as lousy customer experience.

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