Delivering on a promise of greater transparency and simplicity, small-business workers' compensation carrier EMPLOYERS' (Reno, Nev., 84,056 policies in force as of Dec. 31, 2013) new agent portal system is making it easier for distributors to manage their work and submit business, executive VP and CIO Rich Hallman reports.
Following a two-year implementation period, the August 2013 launch of EACCESS, as the portal is called, also signified a cultural shift in how the insurer approaches its business operations.
[Recent implementations by EMPLOYERS and Lincoln Financial Group show insurers recognizing agents' desire to compete on processing speed: Insurers Focus on Helping Agents Get Faster]
"One of the big factors we've been working on in the last couple of years is internal operating efficiency and driving an improved customer experience through technology," says Hallman, who was recently promoted from senior VP. Accordingly, he has also focused on the expansion of CRM capabilities, renewal of other core systems, and recruitment of employees with the skill sets required to handle the variety of incoming technologies, such as analytics, that will be increasingly important at EMPLOYERS.
"Technology is a huge component, and really the catalyst, that will drive improved profitability," Hallman explains. "I think the role of technology continues to grow more important every day, with any business that is currently out there."
EACCESS was developed using AgencyPortal software, Oracle WebCenter, and other software applications to provide agents with a customizable dashboard, claims information, loss run reports, access to marketing materials, and a streamlined quoting system.
EACCESS expedites operations for agents and delivers a consistent experience when they switch among different applications. Whereas the previous system involved multiple login names and passwords with each transition, EACCESS provides clarity to agents as they transfer from one system to another.
The EACCESS implementation affected every department within EMPLOYERS and directly involved more than 200 of the insurer's 700 employees. More than three-quarters of the rollout included defining a common set of business and automated processes, says Hallman. In addition to improving business collaboration and partnerships, the implementation was a catalyst for driving consistent standardized processes and collaboration and creating a more unified culture within the enterprise.
One core finding of the project was the necessity to understand and document business processes, as well as identify and agree on business requirements and expectations, says Hallman. It is also critical to have a shared vision between IT and business departments regarding how to develop the solutions while identifying the measurements after go-live that will determine success, he adds.
EACCESS has been met with largely positive feedback from agents, who can manage their work at any time on desktop or mobile devices. More than 15,000 agents have self-registered through the portal, Hallman explains, and the majority did so within the first 30 days of the system's launch. To date, the system has been used to initiate more than 150,000 new insurance policy submissions, an unprecedented count for Oracle WebCenter that exceeded the launch expectations, Hallman reports.
"[Agents] want to be able to manage their business as effectively and efficiently as possible," he says. "The voice of the agent is very important to us. We may think we know what the agent needs, but it's really important to get feedback from agents and customers."
Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio