|PIA benchmark survey ranks agencies' technology priorities|
Agency principals and their staff say easy, intuitive functionality is their top priority among various technology-related criteria they looked at in a recent PIA Benchmark study of insurance company performance factors.
Seven factors relating to technology appeared among 35 total performance characteristics by which agencies might evaluate their companies. PIA members from Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York were asked how important they consider each of the 35 items. Claims-handling ranked as the most important performance area overall.
Results of the Benchmark study were used to update PIA's annual Company Performance Survey. Agency owners and staff who have not done so already-please take the CPS now:
Of the 456 people who took part in the Benchmark study, 255, or 56 percent, gave "easy, intuitive functionality" a 10-the survey's highest importance rating on a 1-to-10 scale. In fact, all seven of the survey's technology-related items racked up more scores of 10 than any other number.
How they rank. Ranked according to the item's "importance" score on the survey, the chart below shows the survey's technology items. The score is followed by the number of people giving the item a score of 10, then (in parentheses) the 10s as a percent of the item's total scores.
*(Score-uses a 1,000-point scale; thus, if an item received an average rating of 8.25 out of a possible 10, the score is displayed as 825.)
It is interesting to look at both measures of an item's importance (score and number of 10's the item received). For the technology items, the ranking-except for the top two items-would change somewhat, if based on the 10s received.
For example, ranked according to the number considering it a "10" ("Highest importance"), "commercial lines download works well" would rank third. According to intensity of feeling (10s), then, the download items (personal/commercial) would rank two-three, followed by the Real Time items (personal/commercial) at four-five. Ranked, as here, according to the overall average scores, both personal lines items (download/Real Time) score above their counterparts for commercial lines.
The bottom line, however, is shown by the fact that each and every technology item was rated, on average, higher than an "8." And, every technology performance item gets a score of 10-"highest importance" from at least one-third of our respondents.
As one respondent put it: "While financial stability and competitive pricing are important, the ability to utilize technology to the best advantage is a must: REAL TIME, REAL TIME, REAL TIME."
Download added to 2009 CPS. These results confirm how important good download is to agents. Download complements Real Time by synchronizing agency and company records following Real Time transactions. Agents cannot afford constantly trouble-shooting a company's download. As a result, carriers' download quality has been added as a new item in the 2009 Company Performance Survey.
Agents realize that saving time on mindless processing (like re-keying or correcting information that should flow via flawless download) is key to their growth. As one respondent said: "Technology is very important, but more important is that the technology must ... help the agent save time, and allow him to spend his time in more productive activities such as sales."
PIA is active in AUGIE, the ACORD-User Group Information Exchange, which has made promoting quality download a high priority in 2009. As a result, PIA can offer its members resources like these:
Comparative Rating-57 percent say 9 or 10. Regarding comparative rating, 43 percent of PIA members were using this technology as of Fall 2008. In Spring, 2009, over half of those taking the Benchmark survey scored "Enables Comparative Rating" either a "10" (34 percent) or a "9" (23 percent) in importance. This result suggests a continuing trend toward acquiring and using multiple-company rating.-Kiehl
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