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Here's the single biggest opportunity that I have observed for the commercial insurance industry: collaboration with your customer.
Collaboration is already happening in the consumer insurance market. I am reminded of my recent car accident. There was a claim handler that diligently worked with me through the process to setup an appointment, show up for my appointment, and make sure I was satisfied after the repairs were finished.
The problem for the commercial insurance market is scaling something like my experience with my auto claim. Commercial insurance is often unique and requires expert analysis. How do you scale expert analysis? You add more people, of course. But insurance companies are loathe to do that right now as profit margins are shrinking.
If commercial insurance wants to improve the customer experience without adding armies of people, collaboration will be required.
If you read this blog regularly, you will see me talk about collaboration ad nauseum. Every service industry - like legal, accounting and insurance - are all struggling to incorporate collaboration. When I practiced as a lawyer, I did my work and the partner added up my hours and sent out a bill at the end of the month. He might read my final memos and pleadings, but there was no collaboration around document review.
Too often, service professionals work in a black box. Sometimes they have to. For example, an independent accounting auditor can't rely on collaboration.
But insurance is the perfect industry for more collaboration. The insurer and agent want the same thing as the customer - less risk. Meeting for golf once a quarter doesn't reduce risk. Grabbing a nice meal doesn't reduce risk.
Collaboration around real risk management issues reduces risk. Reviewing a contract together -- insurer, agent, and customer side by side -- that reduces risk.
How do you create collaboration? I like to think about the places I collaborate with others. I collaborate at work via our project management software, Basecamp. I collaborate with my friends to share unique experiences via Facebook and Twitter. And I share business insights and questions on Linkedin and Twitter.
Social media is collaboration. People communicate to discuss problems and solutions (or share funny pictures, which is still solving a problem -- boredom).
The cloud was the first component to collaboration. People from different companies and locations can now access the same files in a secure location. But the next step is harnessing access AND streamlining workflow in one online location. There's a reason why Dropbox just added commenting to it's document syncing platform. Technology companies have figured out syncing -- but workflow collaboration is the holy grail.
I like to call it, simply, digital collaboration. And it's coming to an insurer near you.