Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center Items Podcast Episode 55

How to Advise Your Way to a Proactive Customer Experience

Published on

The reality is, clearing the bar in its current position isn't much of a challenge.

That is of course if your only comparing yourself to others in the insurance industry.

The problem with that is we do not exist in a business vacuum.

The standard set by other "professional" industries has made the lack of real-time communication very apparent.

Billie Jo Galle, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at TRICORE insurance, talks about how they're doing what they can to make things more automatic.

For more Change Insurance episodes, click here.

Full Episode Transcript

Joey Giangola: Billie Jo Galle, how you doing today?

Billie Jo Galle: Good. How are you?

Joey Giangola: I'm doing all right. I want to know this before we go any further. First question is, is there something that is relatively simple but, for whatever reason, seems to escape you from your day to day activities? Is there just something simple that can't seem to find its way into your life, for whatever reason?

Billie Jo Galle: Ooh. It seems like there's a lot of things that should be simple. Zoom, Zoom's work, technology works the way it's supposed to, it should be simple, but it never is. You turn into a tech wizard.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, for me, it's a little more pedestrian. For me, it's just sunglasses. I just... I wish I could wear sunglasses, but it's an extra step and I don't know. I feel like there's two moving parts and it's just something that I would like to incorporate into my life and it just doesn't seem to happen. Now, Billie Jo, I guess I wanted to extend that question a little bit further, and in terms of insurance, we've never been accused of being progressive in the way we do things a lot of times. Is there something simple that has escapes, I guess in your own agency or just your experience of the industry that has escaped us for whatever reason that you feel maybe deserves another shot?

Billie Jo Galle: A lot. A lot deserves another shot of rethinking that, should a human be doing this, or should this be automated by data and systems? We're doing a lot of that rethinking right now. Before, it was just, "Well, we hire people to do those kinds of things," and it's like I bet we could use their brain in a little bit more value added way, and how do we make it better? So, I think there's so many opportunities.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, that's the thing that surprises me because I think insurance sees a spectrum. You've got the small shops with just a couple of people where it's really imperative that they try to maximize those resources, but then, on the other side of it, they just throw bodies at the problem, right? And that's, I think, an interesting dynamic and I think you guys would lean towards the other end of the spectrum where you do have just a lot of manpower behind you. Is there something that you see from your perspective where you've maybe rethought where, again, the bodies, just throwing bodies at it might not be the best way. Is there something really specific that has jumped out to you guys over the years?

Billie Jo Galle: Yeah. I think there's two key areas. The communication, you can make communication look like it's coming from you in an automated way, using data and triggers of starting a renewal process, all of that, but also the backend, backend when we receive downloads. It blows my mind that we just received a claim download and it's not a code that tells me what the claim is and the severity of it, that it takes a human to get that download and then review, essentially, what it is. So, we're looking at a lot of that, of how to automate more of those activity codes that should be telling us more detail about that activity. Cancellations, similar, cancellation for non-pay is a certain activity. Well, what does it look like? Is it really [inaudible] pay? Is it going to go to reinstatement? And it just takes so much manpower redoing mortgages on cars and homes and just the manpower that takes where it just it really needs to be automated and nobody touching it.

Joey Giangola: Do you have any hope that that's something that is going to be figured out sometime in the near future?

Billie Jo Galle: I do. I think as agencies are going through this consolidation period, and there is extreme difference needs between larger agencies and smaller ones. Like you said, the smaller ones, they do... They wrestle it through manpower where larger agencies you have to look at your efficiencies, your return on investment of the commission you receive and what you can pay employees to do, and then you just... There's a volume and you can't throw manpower at it anymore, it has to have technology, data that we can use to automate more of that stuff. It probably won't go as fast as I would want it to. Working in other industries outside of the insurance world has tainted me of, why isn't this working? Why does this take so long?

Joey Giangola: Yeah, they should have a sign like, "Check your expectations at the door when you come into insurance." I guess maybe... Here's a good question because I think you've been in the insurance game for a decent number of years now, but before entering the industry, I guess maybe what's the one thing that stood out to you the most when you got here? Like, "Whoa, hold on a second, I've just taken five years off of my life in terms of progressive technology."

Billie Jo Galle: Yeah, I wouldn't say 5, I'd say 20, almost. Part of my career, I was a part of building the data flow between online lending and credit unions and then data processors where when we first started, for example, ATMs, you didn't see the money taken out of your account for about 10 days because there was manpower behind it, and then, on the projects of making that faster and faster and now it's instantaneous because it's data. There's not manpower helping that process along. Just even the download. Just receiving a claim download is mind boggling to me that they haven't...

Billie Jo Galle: Similar to the medical coding, you can have billers in medical coding just on that code know exactly what procedure was done just by codes, and really that's the way we should be receiving more downloaded codes, is we know exactly what's happened, whether it's a claim of just glass, it's a claim of severity like accident with injuries, cars involved, we should be able to get codes that we can drive communications off of so when we receive those severe, I want to drive an email that's automated out that we've received this, we'll be in touch, versus a glass. I'm going to send an email, but it's going to be a different, let us know how it's going with the carrier and follow up with us if do you have any issues?

Joey Giangola: Yeah, it's definitely interesting. And have you gotten close to that or have you even experienced some sort of feedback from the client when you have pinpointed the message a little closer to the experience? Like you said, if it's just a minor chip in the glass sort of thing versus a, "Hey, we've entirely ripped off the front end of our car." What is that experience like and how appreciative are the clients of that?

Billie Jo Galle: Their expectation is there. We're the ones behind their expectation which is why they call us. So not having these things are driving up phone calls. They're calling because they're expecting, "I entered a claim and you gave me this wonderful mobile app that I can do that with. I honestly expect an email, almost instantaneous that says, got it, or, on it." And when they don't get that, they're calling up saying, "Did you get it?" It's important to them and we need to acknowledge when they send us stuff, what we're going to do with it, that expectation is already there. So in areas where we have created segmented workflows in that way, it's still not fast enough yet. A lot of our downloads are overnight, so they're looking for instantaneous and we're looking for real time download, but it's not fast enough.

Billie Jo Galle: So, but where we do acknowledge, we see a increase in our customer experience ratings when we're looking and we're hearing from them. "Thank you for getting back to me, [inaudible]. I'm not used to that, essentially, in other insurance agent I was with, so I appreciate it." They're just... They're looking for that proactive communication.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, and I think the other thing too is, it's not something that needs to be overly complex in terms of what you actually communicate, it just needs to be on point with the, like you said, the information needs to match up.

Billie Jo Galle: Yeah.

Joey Giangola: [inaudible].

Billie Jo Galle: If you think back when the internet first went live, so I helped at Lands' End which is a retailer here in Wisconsin and manually, we would literally email out order confirmations. They would be a couple of days later because it's manual input and now that everything's automated, it automatically goes out for that confirmation. That's the expectation people are looking for. Other industries have set that tone. So think of if you ordered something and you never got a confirmation and you never got a shipping, and if it didn't automatically link to UPS tracking, you'd probably be like, "This stinks. I don't like this process."

Joey Giangola: That's interesting then. So what, I guess, what key areas do you feel are missing in the insurance transaction process? Right? Those automated responses. In a perfect world, what do you see being the holy grail?

Billie Jo Galle: I see the communication, that proactive communication, not just when they have entered a claim or an update but our entire renewal process. They're looking for that elevated experience where it feels like we're proactive, they're not calling us. We don't even get notification of the next renewal cycle of their bill changing until 30 days until their due date. Well, they already probably mailed out, they're going to receive the bill or get the email if the carrier emails the bill out, and in the consumer's mind they're just like, "Well, why wouldn't even the agency let me know?" Well, we're getting notified almost at the same time, very short notice before they are. So I think we just have a lot of disconnect between agencies and carriers that really couldn't be streamlined to build that overall experience for them that feels cohesive, it's not frustrating, the billing's more understood. As soon as they get that bill, people panic. I have a due but I need changes and they want to do the right thing and we're just not providing the correct timing in that experience that they understand.

Joey Giangola: Well, Billie Jo, you know what I mean? People are afraid that if you sometimes disturb their business, basically shaking. I've heard this over the years, right? You're going to shake the trees and problems are going to fall out, right? And I think there's a lot of that mindset, but yet the customer's expectation is changing now to where that's actually more of a negative. I guess, what have you experienced then in terms of that sort of relationship, right? Where if you guys are getting out in front of it in some cases versus where you haven't, what have you heard in terms of the response that your clients are giving you?

Billie Jo Galle: So we started... We segmented our clients and went through and developed different customer experiences based on our segments and for our segments where we've laid out a timeline and we're really going through a proactive risk assessment during pre renewal period, I think we set it at 150 days out. In the insurance mind frame, it's like, "Well, that's extra work, that's more work. And then what if something changes between that time and their actual renewal?" It doesn't matter if it's more work for us, it's a customer expectation. They like that we're starting early. In their mind, it makes sense. Like, "Hey, you want to start early with me so by the time I do get to my payment, it's a non advent. You see what's coming. If I need to change... I happened to buy a new car at that point when it gets closer to my renewal date." In their mind, okay, that makes sense to them but waiting till that super short period of time which we were waiting and then communicating, it feels... They panic.

Billie Jo Galle: "It's too close. I feel like I get this information and I can't do anything." And the bar is low to set a better customer experience, so I don't think it would take much to do well.

Joey Giangola: I think you hit on something really interesting there, right? And I think a lot of times we're paralyzed by the specifics, right? I don't want to say anything because I don't know for sure what something is, right? But in reality, consumers are just looking for some sort of reassurance, right? A ballpark, an estimation, just, "Hey, make me feel better about the situation." I understand that there's some variable here that we need to take into account. Do you think that that's something that we could also maybe adopt a little bit more, generalities around these things and not be so specific sometimes and that customers are okay with that?

Billie Jo Galle: I think we're going to have to. I think we're past the point where... The customer really owns this process, we don't. They're going to tell you if they like it or they don't like it by sticking with you and becoming a lifelong relationship and building that relationship, or in their mind, they're going to move on, and they have options, especially if you look at the more commoditized, personal lines, small business, they do have options and you will, for lack of better words, churn and burn people in the door, out the door, if you're not providing some of that experience they're looking for which in turn costs your agency a lot of money.

Joey Giangola: We touched on TriCore is on the larger side of things in terms of just the agency size. What do you think if you're talking to an agency that's a little bit smaller? What's something that you've learned looking across a larger agent force, an agent that's looking to maybe get there could glean from? What's something that, in terms of unifying that message, pulling all of these data points together, is there something that stands out to you of saying, "Hey, listen, if you're looking to at least start somewhere in terms of figuring some of this stuff out..." What's something that has really stood out to you?

Billie Jo Galle: If you get the renewal process correct in the way that a customer wants it using your data, being proactive, building those communications, if you just focused there, you see a lot of wins out of that. You can be pretty terrible at onboarding, not communicate, all of a sudden they get their policy in the mail and they're like, "I guess I have insurance." But that renewal process, understanding your data, analytics, your data points and your workflow and process in that specific area, if you can get that right, you'll see a lot of success.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. Is there anything specifically within that renewal process that you found stood out even more so? Just like offering for them to maybe schedule their own renewal appointment or here's an advanced notice of what's going to happen checklist or we've got this piece of information here on what to expect and what's coming over the next two months. Is there something that really clicked over everything else in those sequences?

Billie Jo Galle: We implemented where we really want to lean more into being that advisor. So we have built up proprietary risk assessment that we go through. It's a series of questions. It gives a client the feeling that you are truly trying to know them, and it's not just once, you're doing it every year because you're teaching them that your life changes, things in your life change, your assets, what you buy. They don't know any better that, "Oh, I bought an ATV. I figured it'd just go on my auto insurance or maybe I didn't need it." And they don't know that stuff, so the more that we built an expectation with somebody of, we're going to go through an assessment, and although at first they're like, "Eh, you're just trying to sell me more stuff and get me more things that I don't need." When you taught them that this is something that they need to go through, I'm not trying to sell you because I'm advising you.

Billie Jo Galle: I'm advising you on your decisions and it's based on this set of, basically, rules we put in place. If you own this, you should have this, and I think that made... People were really, at first, because they just weren't expecting... They didn't expect it, they were just really leery of it, but year one, a little leery, like, "You're trying to sell me something." Year two, they're like, "Oh, I really appreciate that you bring it up to me. I did have a baby. I need life insurance. I appreciate that you're thinking of me, you're advising me, you're more similar to if I had a financial advisor, you're proactively giving me that advice." That's key for us, but we have to be able to do it both in a manual way when we have some really complex clients that we work with in our private client group or in a digital way where our clients can answer some of those questions on their cell phone and send it back to us, and when it triggers something, we're picking up the phone and calling them or we're saying, 'Everything looks good. You're good to go."

Joey Giangola: So, Billie Jo, you just said something that I'm tremendously excited about, right? And the idea of, for lack of a better term, training your clients, right? To accept what... It's a delicate dance between what they want and what you think they need, right? And it's... Yeah, they might not be crazy about it in the first year, but I guess, one, is that something that you guys... Obviously, it sounds like you were intentionally doing, but was there any concern initially? Again, saying, because generally I've found a lot of pushback, like, "Oh, they don't... That's not what they want. They're not going to do that." Such and such, but it's something that's learned over, not just a week, a month, it's like you said, years of training to say, "Listen, this is... We will ultimately get them there and where everybody's going to benefit as a result."

Billie Jo Galle: Yeah. Tons of pushback, tons of pushback internallyof, they don't want that, they don't want to hear from us. Tons and tons of pushback on it and it came down to, "All right, we're going to give it a shot in your first year." Because this is new for them. It's similar if you go into a retail, they work on commission, right? They're on you right when you come in the door. What can I help you find? And most time I'm just browsing, right? But as soon as you find something you need help with and they're not there, you're like, "Where are they? Why aren't they here?" It's the same thing where we got to find that don't be on top of them, but you got to be there. You got to say, "Here's what I'm here for. This is the expectation of... If you want to be my client, this is what we're going to follow as a process. This is what you can expect from me."

Billie Jo Galle: If they're not good with it, they shouldn't be our client. If they don't want that experience, it's okay, you don't have to be our client. But most of them after they would go through it, they're like, "Okay, this feels right. I feel like you're engaged into my life and building a relationship that way." And we've used it to actually not have people come in, the one calling on a three o'clock Friday, "I just need a cert, so I'm going to do something quick and then I'm going to cancel it three months or even three weeks later." We're going to use that as an opportunity of, "No, that's not how we work here. This is our process and if you need something like you're explaining, you might need to go down the road."

Joey Giangola: All right, Billie Jo. I've got three more questions for you, and first, really simply, what's something that you hope you'll never forget?

Billie Jo Galle: Empathy. I work... Underneath me, I have five generations of different types of workers and some of them have done the same thing for a long time and it takes me a lot of communicating to get them to buy in, right? And I need to have that empathy there that I'm not getting my vision across to them correctly until I do, and I have a new generation, they're like, "Oh my God, why is this an email? Why don't we have a system that we can automate and do these different?" And they're really... It's challenging and I need empathy for them too that if I walked in... If I... Walking in, working in retail for so long and having to step back so many years, it's super hard, super hard to come into the insurance industry and be like, "Oh, you guys don't have predictive analytics? That's a thing that we need to have." And I need to keep that empathy.

Billie Jo Galle: Everybody's at a different spot in their life and it's something that... It doesn't always come naturally to me, I'll be like, "Oh, why can't you just understand where we're going and get on board?" And I have to think about it. I have to build that empathy for people.

Joey Giangola: Now, on the other side of that, what is one thing that you still have yet to learn?

Billie Jo Galle: So much to learn. I'm a person, I love learning, I love learning data, marketing analytics, how it all comes. Even just the business side of agencies, I learned a ton, so I still need to learn more of that business side of commission, of contingencies, of all of how the business runs on that side and it's... I just need the exposure to it and I am part of a leadership team that really shares their wealth of knowledge through that. So they're very educational in nature when we're looking through a lot of those pieces and building our dashboards. They're looking at a lifetime value of a client and what that looks like and really looking at all that spectrum of a business.

Joey Giangola: All right, Billie Jo, last question to you, and maybe we've spent most of this conversation answering this question, but let's see what else happens. If I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to reshape change, alter, really any aspect of insurance, what is that thing? What is it doing? And where's it going?

Billie Jo Galle: Operationally, I would change download, I would change data, I would change... Just making that more structured, structured data. It's very unstructured in the way that it is today. It just complicates our whole operational workflow. Literally, what we have to put in our workflows sometime is because they don't have a UX designer on an AMS system where they're like, "Oh, why would you put the goal back button in this spot?" Now I got to train somebody that is in a random position and they got to find it. So, jsut the things that it made it so hard that employees can't just learn it. It needs to be intuitive. I shouldn't have to train people how to use, click the next button, but it's so not intuitive that it's hard. I would definitely work on all that, all the download. I would require her carriers to be on download and their download needs to be correct, and work on that, for sure.

Joey Giangola: Billie Jo, this has been fantastic. I'm going to leave it right there.

Billie Jo Galle: Great. Thank you.

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