Brokers who can effectively capture data from their broker management systems (BMS) or other digital technology tools will be able to reap the benefits not only for their brokerages but for clients as well, panellists said during a Canadian Underwriter webinar last week.
Of course, this task is much easier said than done. Brokers have an abundance of data sitting inside their BMS but are often unable to access or understand the data.
“In our own surveys, we’re seeing that about 62% of our brokers aren’t using the data to do the analytics, to provide fact-based decisions and unearth opportunities where there may be bottlenecks in processes that can be improved…” said Steve Whitelaw, senior vice president and general manager at Applied Systems Canada.
“And so, I think there’s a real opportunity on the analytics side to address expectations — both customers but also employees — because someone once said that your customers are only as happy as your employees,” Whitelaw said during CU’s Exploring digital opportunities webinar.
“You have to make sure that all those perspectives are considered, and analytics gives you that insight and it helps prioritize in terms of what you’re going to do next.”
Whitelaw described an incident in which an Applied customer had to hire a data analyst just to understand all their data. “They said, ‘I know insurance, I can teach them insurance, but I don’t know how to actually analyze all this data and understand what this data is telling me.’ So, they hired someone to deal with that.’”
Catherine Cake, vice president of insurance operations with Drayden Insurance, acknowledged the challenges brokers face in accessing data from the BMS. “We’re brokers, we’re not data analysts,” she said. “The challenge is getting [data] out of our systems; with our BMS, it’s not always something that’s easy to do.
“‘How do we use it effectively to guide us going forward and guide our growth?’” Cake asked. “I haven’t met a broker yet who feels confident that they are able to access [data] and use it the way they want.”
Does this mean that brokerages will need to hire data scientists to interpret data?
That depends on the brokerage and whether they want to use the data to grow, Whitelaw said. “There are great tools out there that could probably meet 80% of the brokers’ needs and…if a broker needs to get at that other 20%, then they’re going to need the expertise to be able to do that,” he added.
Where data is stored is also important, said Brock Longworth, chief operating officer at Cornerstone Insurance. He used the simple example of a birth date — is it on a sticky note, in the comment field, or birth date field?
“Its value as data is significantly different depending on which of those locations that it’s in,” Longworth said. “To enhance the quality of our data, let’s be consistent with where the right pieces are going so that when the time comes, we have the tools to access it and data is in the right place [so] that we can actually make use of it.”
And using these digital tools effectively can help create a positive experience for customers, Whitelaw said.
Customers know they are providing data, so they don’t want to be asked the same questions repeatedly — questions that you should already know the answer to.
“You still need to be able to capture that data efficiently because that business owner or the risk manager doesn’t want to be telling you the information six times.”
Feature image by iStock.com/martin-dm