SurveyorTech Connect. Live Streaming for the Insurance Industry. Fancy joining our free pilot?

SurveyorTech Connect Live Streaming

About SurveyorTech Connect

SurveyorTech Connect is a one to one recordable live video stream solution developed by Software Solved that can be used by Insurance Brokers, Underwriters, Risk Consultants and Claims professionals to remotely survey risk pre and post loss.

SurveyorTech Connect is expected to be ready to pilot by the end of June.

We are looking for a small number of insurance organisations to join the pilot and test the solution with their clients (many thanks to those of you who are already in the pilot and for your feedback so far).

In return for helping us pilot SurveyorTech Connect and providing feedback, it will be free to use for the duration of the pilot.

Pilot organisations will also be given a discount if they wish to subscribe to SurveyorTech Connect after the pilot.

I feel that a free live stream product, particularly right now given the challenges around lockdown and social distancing will add significant value to the insurance market.

If you think this would add value to others in your business or your network, please like and share this post to help spread the message.

Why are we developing SurveyorTech Connect?

We were always going to develop a live stream product as part of a broader SurveyorTech digital surveying proposition but decided to bring this forward to support the insurance industry given the current pandemic.

Right now, Insurance Professionals face the challenge of not being able to visit client premises during lockdown and social distancing measures.

Which means that the commercial insurance market has stalled.

Even when business returns to normal, there is of course always the chance that another pandemic could occur.

The UK government have also suggested that regions of the country could face further lockdowns if the rate of infection begins to grow again; which would of course continue to impact the insurance sector.

But even after the pandemic has ended, SurveyorTech Connect will continue to add value to the Insurance Market by reducing both the cost of surveying and carbon footprint.

SurveyorTech Connect will facilitate more remote surveying which will help the insurance market increase its survey footprint, reduce the growing survey backlog and meet future demand.

What are the benefits to the Insurance Market?

Live Streaming will benefit the insurance market in a number of key areas:

  • Brokers: Will be able to reduce time at a client’s site and meet with multiple stakeholders at a convenient time from the comfort of their desk.
  • Underwriters: will be able to hold a live stream direct with the client to check specific features of a risk to help them apply the right underwriting terms
  • Risk Consultants: Can use live streaming to re-survey risks remotely, check on the progress of risk improvements or meet with key individuals to discuss specific processes and loss prevention controls.
  • Claims professionals: Can assess property claims remotely and use the live stream as the basis of starting settlement for simple claims or decided what other action is required.
  • Clients: will benefit from more risk management support, early identification of risk improvements and potentially quicker claims settlement.

How will SurveyorTech Connect Work?

SurveyorTech Connect has been designed to be simple to use and without training.

You will be able to provide your client with access to a SurveyorTech Connect App that they will use for a secure, private, live stream. All your client will need to do is point their mobile camera at what you want to see.

You will see what the client sees in the secure SurveyorTech portal which you will access with a username and password.

The process is straightforward:

  • You set up a secure, private live stream in the SurveyorTech Portal which generates a live stream sharing code that is shared with your client along with a meeting invitation.
  • At the allotted time, the client simply needs to open the App on their mobile and input their unique sharing code to join the live stream.
  • When the live stream starts it immediately begins to record.
  • During the live you will be able guide the client to point their mobile camera at specific features or explain processes and loss control methods.
  • You will be able to see what the client sees and will have the ability to take still images and make notes as you progress the survey, all within the portal.
  • At the end of the live stream the recording has its own record along with all images and notes that have been taken. The finished live stream can also be shared securely with other stakeholders

How secure is SurveyorTech Connect?

Each live stream is private, and all live streams are hosted and recoded in our secure SurveyorTech portal which is hosted in Microsoft Azure.

We are also Microsoft Gold Partners and hold the ISO/IEC 27001 for Information Security Management.

What will the pilot look like?

The pilot is expected to take place through July and will end and move to a launch phase once we have received sufficient feedback and endorsement from pilot users.

During the pilot, we expect SurveyorTech Connect to immediately add value to your business, it will be fairly close to the final product.

SurveyorTech Connect will be free to use during the pilot, all we ask for is:

commit to use the technology to an agreed volume during the pilot
to spare the time to feedback on how you found the product via short surveys or a call with our product manager

There is no commitment to buy anything, you can leave the pilot at any time without paying a penny.

Our pricing of the final product will be extremely competitive as we want to drive mass adoption of SurveyorTech Connect and If you join the pilot we will of course share our proposed pricing model with you.

At the end of the pilot, for those that wish to continue to use SurveyorTech Connect as a paid service there will be a discount as a reward for your support.

How to sign-up to the pilot

All you need to do is visit https://www.softwaresolved.com/surveyortech and click on the “Register Now” button and leave your details. I will then be in touch to confirm next steps.

If you think this would add value to others in your business or your network, please like and share this post to help spread the message.

Why I love the AALP Data Maturity Model

AALP Software Solved

I have worked in the Insurance Industry for over 23 years for both large insurers, brokers and software houses.  

Almost all of these organisations were sat on a gold mine of data across a range of software applications, data sources and departments.  

Often data was difficult to access and analyse in one place and was likely to be unstructured, particularly where text-based legacy systems are used.

Insurance organisations that embrace and implement advanced analytics such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics will have a distinct competitive advantage to those that don’t.

Adopters will benefit from improved efficiencies, reduced operating costs, easy identification of new product opportunities, niches and more through having a consolidated data view across distribution, underwriting, risk consulting and claims.

But if insurance organisations have disparate, potentially unstructured data systems, where do they start and what are the short, medium and long-term objectives of a winning data strategy?

Why I love the AALP Data Maturity Model

Identifying and understanding where your business is in terms of its data maturity can be a mammoth task.  

I love the AALP Data maturity model that we use at Software Solved as it makes the process of identifying and planning a data maturity strategy simple.

The AALP model breaks the process down into smaller, more manageable stages that unlocks value as the organisation progresses, quickly providing a return on investment.

AALP Stands for Access, Analyse, Learn, Predict.

Here is an overview of each stage:

1. Access

You might think that being able to access all of your data is obvious but many businesses with a variety of disparate systems struggle with this first crucial stage.  

If you can understand where and how your data is stored and how it aligns to your business objectives it will enable you to consider how this data can be integrated and accessed centrally.

This could be via data integrations between your chosen business intelligence tools and your various software applications or via a data warehouse.

2. Analyse

Once you have established easy access to your organisations data you will be able to consider how to analyse this data and what insights you want to glean.  

This could be using smart visuals to simplify how your data is summarised or, it could be focusing on unlocking new value in your data.

Examples could be, identifying opportunities for improving efficiency, reducing cost, profitable business lines or segments, new niches and products.

Having centralised data can enable your business intelligence tools to bring all of this data together across your key business functions such as distribution, underwriting, risk consulting and claims.  

This enables data driven decision making and the development of regular automated reporting that help identify insights quickly across your organisation.

Your business intelligence tools will also enable you to identify issues with data accuracy and any areas of unstructured data that need resolving before moving on to more sophisticated data applications such as Machine Learning.

3. Learn

When data analysis becomes a business as usual task, and you are unlocking more value from your data you can start to explore how machine learning and artificial intelligence can benefit your organisation.

Before the learn phase commences it is important that you are satisfied that the accuracy of your data can be relied on and that any potential bias has been identified and excluded.

At this point, the organisation is effectively trialling machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to find those that best suit their data needs.  

The organisation may also be performing other manual data mining investigations to understand ‘What If’ type queries or just to basically understand if the data exists to answer specific questions.

Here are some basic examples of the application of Machine Learning in Insurance:

⦁ Advice: from managing the initial interaction with the client to determining which cover a client may require (like how Amazon recommends products to its customers). An obvious example would be a chat bot that automatically provides answers to basic customer queries, thus reducing employee time on the phone.  

⦁ Claims: automating processes from claims registration to claims settlement. Some Insurers are using Machine Learning to identify cases that may be fraudulent.  

⦁ Sales: Automatically identify cases that are likely to lapse in advance for a focused sales effort

An Insurance Providers Data Analysts may also use Machine Learning to discover predictors in claims activity which can help identify assumptions and feed these into its pricing models, underwriting and risk analyses and actuarial analyses.

If your organisation gets this stage right, the benefits can be significant.  

It also paves the way for implementing data automation and advanced levels of trends and insights.

4. Predict

The last stage in the AALP model is Predict.  

When an organisation reaches this point, it should have developed a good understanding of which machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches work for them and have begun to implement them into their data production systems.

This will move them away from manual data insights to automation.

In addition, the Predict phase lays a strong foundation for experimenting with predictive analytics which has multiple applications and benefits for insurance organisations.  

Imagine being able to automatically predict outcomes with a high degree of accuracy using a number of internal, open source and external data sources?

Examples could be:

⦁ Predicting future loss probabilities based on current data trends

⦁ The impact on profitability following a rate, excess or cover change 

⦁ Benchmarking your enquiries against your current clients to predict profitability based on your historical claims, risk and underwriting data overlaid with recent (or even real time) data such as crime and weather patterns.

⦁ Assessing how a constantly changing business mix might affect your portfolio in real time

⦁ Automatically attributing a risk score by property peril based on data insights from internal, paid and open source data such as how the current crime rate affects theft and malicious damage

⦁ Predicting the impact on profitability following the investment and implementation of a risk improvement

⦁ What your book could look like if a specific cover or product is introduced

The list can be endless.  

How long would it currently take to model this data? Imagine a world where this level of insight was instant.  

What do you think?  

Has this helped you visualise how you could tackle your data challenges?

If you need some help on understanding your organisations data maturity and implementing a winning data strategy, Software Solved can help in a number of ways by providing:

1. A Data Maturity Assessment which helps a business develop a blueprint of its data and systems progression across a number of key areas including data access, visualisation, machine learning and AI and Predictive Analytics. 

2. Consultancy on Data Warehousing and Data Integrations to help you successfully navigate complex projects.

3. Flexible Resource for instances where you need additional data analysts, developers, business analysts and project managers on a short-term basis to help you shape and implement data projects.

9 new habits I am forming during lock down

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As I write this post, we are three weeks into a lockdown designed to slow down the coronavirus outbreak, a crisis on a scale most of us have never seen in our lifetime.

It’s fair to say this crisis is going to change the way people and businesses work for the long-term, the world seems a gloomy place right now.

But there are positives. 

Lockdown is already having a positive impact on my life and how I operate in my role as Insurance Practice Lead for Software Solved.

Pre-lockdown I was used to working from home a couple of days a week with the rest of my time split between travelling to Exeter where our office is based (usually a 4 hour trip) or London, the main location for most of my clients.

My working week was hectic. 

Thankfully it’s still hectic, but the extra hours I have spare at each end of the day as a result of being in lock-down have enabled me to find time for new positive habits that will enrich my life, the time I spend with my family and maybe even the mark I make on the world.

Here are the 9 new habits I am forming, hopefully by the end of lockdown these will be ever present habits in my routine.

  1. Spend more time with the kids
  2. Develop my personal brand
  3. Write a blog
  4. Use a whiteboard
  5. Use LinkedIn more strategically
  6. Use Video for client and internal meetings
  7. Meditate Daily
  8. Write a daily journal
  9. Read more books

If you have time to read on, here is the detail of what I’m doing differently.

9 new habits I am forming during lock down

1.Spend more time with the kids

I guess I’m no different to most busy professionals, the long hours can affect family time during the week.  Family time has usually been restricted to the weekend.

Each morning I now quiz each of my three girls on what their day is going to look like and if they are prepared for their home schooling, checking in at lunchtime and as they finish their allotted study time. 

This is something I normally enquire about at the end of the day.

As I have replaced commuting time with a couple of extra hours work early in the morning, I can now make sure I finish work no later 6pm than and do something together as a family. 

Obviously, we are restricted to what we can do on lock-down but that may include going for a walk along the canal by our house or going outside to play simple games together followed by winding down with a meal and family movie.

Weekends are now strictly family time, unless there is an emergency or tight deadline on something. Weekend working no longer being the norm.

I really hope this is one of the habits I can maintain.

2.Develop my personal brand

I’ve changed career direction in the last 12 months with a move to a consultancy and innovation type role which I absolutely love but this does mean that not all of my contacts understand what I do.

Personal branding was something I’d always wanted to develop but didn’t have the time. 

If I’m being honest it has been a recent challenge trying to explain everything I do in a concise way, especially given I have had such a varied background. 

This is something I found out when trying to explain what I do to a specialist personal branding consultant and it really got me thinking.

So, I have spent some time on this and developed a concise overview. 

In a nutshell, I am a Chartered Insurance Practitioner specialising in providing Technology and Data solutions to the insurance sector. 

I also lead an exciting new InsurTech called SurveyorTech with a mission to accelerate the insurance markets move to digital surveys using affordable and familiar technology.

Personal Branding is no longer a nice to have, moving forward I shall spend time on this each week for the benefit of my sales, marketing, networking and positioning of my future career development.

3. Write a blog

As a result of reviewing my personal brand I have decided to write the blog you are reading now as a medium to share what I’m up to and showcase my thoughts and skills.

In doing so I have developed a new skill.

Whilst I don’t want to be a web designer I am pleased to have learned how to do it (if you are interested, I used a combination of WordPress and Elementor).

I plan to write a post of some form every week, writing a few hundred words a day to ensure this happens. 

The topic of my blog is ‘Winning in a Digital World’ so content will be insurance sector related, covering all of my sales, marketing, insights and innovation skills.

4. Use a whiteboard

My desk is what I would call organised chaos.  My wife calls it a mess.

So, in a bid to reduce Post-it Notes, task lists, reminders on slips of paper and frequency of being told off by the wife I have installed a whiteboard to track the key things I need to do and focus on each week.

The result is I have a happier wife and my desk is a lot easier to work from.

This is a habit I have to stick to.

5. Use LinkedIn more strategically

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a novice LinkedIn user however I probably wasn’t using LinkedIn to its full potential. 

My Social Selling Index was slightly above average, probably low 60’s and I used it to keep in touch with people I had met and share the odd post.

I am now using it to proactively build new relevant connections, not selling to them (I find that really annoying when people use LinkedIn to sell to me).

I will take the time to develop a relationship with my connections, overtime earning the permission to take the conversation offline.

I now designate time each day to build my network and I record the results on my whiteboard i.e. new connections that week so I can track results.

I’m also sharing more content that is more relevant, interesting and educational to my network, mostly third-party content initially but over time there will be some of my own.

My social selling index now fluctuates between 79-81 out of 100 and puts me in the top 1% for both the insurance industry and my network. 

If you’d like to understand your Social Selling Index score, you can view this at https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi where you will see your score broken down by:

  • establishing your professional brand
  • finding the right people
  • engaging with insights; and
  • building relationships. 

This is useful as it helps you quickly identify where you need improve.

6. Use Video for Client and Internal Meetings

Client meetings:

Like most people I am using video more for client meetings and I now always ensure that my webcam is on to make the meeting feel more personal, particularly where I haven’t met the attendees before.

Some of the meetings I have hosted would have always been a face to face meeting before lockdown, however the video meetings were not any less effective.

I feel using video for external meetings could quite easily become a long-term habit. 

A number of people I have spoken to recently would change the “lets catch up for a coffee in London” habit to a meeting from home or virtual coffee meeting.

Video meetings are a great way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and expenses – although nothing beats a face to face meeting but those can be saved for meetings that truly warrant the time and expense.

Internal meetings:

I have used meeting software for internal meetings for years, initially Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams (which is fantastic).

Most people tended to use Teams with video turned off (me included) but I have started to switch video on in every meeting I am in.

For one, it ensures I keep my office tidy…

But also, I think it is beneficial to my colleagues and also its easier to have fun on the call. 

I have a few colleagues who wear crazy hats or bunny ears on an internal video call (this isn’t a habit I’m adopting though) and its great fun.

Moving forward, if I’m using video call, my web cam will always be on, irrespective of how long I have gone without a haircut.

7. Meditate Daily

Meditation isn’t new to me and I have found it very useful to start my day well, unclutter my mind for 10 minutes during the day or unwind at night to position myself for a restful sleep.

It has been something I do inconsistently, even though I pay for a Headspace subscription (if you haven’t tried this there is a free account that includes a useful 10-day program).

I now meditate at the start of each day without fail for 20 mins.  I also meditate for 20 mins at the end of the day to clear my mind. 

If I need it, 10 minutes of my lunch break includes a meditation to rest and de-clutter my mind.

I feel a lot better for it, less self-doubt and stress that is a natural by product of lockdown.

8. Write a daily journal

I’m used to working remotely, I have done this for over a decade, but I have to admit I do struggle with this when it is 100% of my week.

I work in a role that requires me to network, sell and meet clients. 

The combination of not doing this face to face and having the same level of activity as before lock-down can have a negative effect on your mental well-being.

I often have had the voice in my head say things like “I wonder whether my colleagues know how hard I’m working” type thoughts – “I know I’m working flat out but do they?”. 

I know I’m not alone in this.

Its also natural for sales numbers to not quite look the same as they did before lock-down so its easy to beat yourself up, particularly if you are competitive like me.

I have started to write a one-page journal and it is one of the best habits I am forming and it doesn’t take long to do

At the end of each day I record how long I’ve meditated for, my sales and marketing activity, how much exercise I have done and then importantly 3 things I am grateful for.

The compound effect is that by the end of the month I have achieved a lot, even by only doing a small number of positive activities each day.

The plan is not to beat myself up when other things, like internal meetings get in the way.  I just plan to do more the next day.

This is a habit that I will 100% stick to.

9. Read more books

I probably have most business Audible books that are worth listening to on my iPhone.

I used to listen to at least a couple of books each month by incorporating Audible into my regular commute. 

I still bought books occasionally and have a reasonable library in my office.

I have decided to put my Audible description on hold during lockdown as I now have time to read, which is far more absorbing.

I’ve bought several great books recently (still with a business focus) and have been reading a chapter a day. 

I find the content and ideas are sticking far more than listening.

This will be a challenge to maintain but I still feel I can maintain one good physical book a month, even when I switch Audible back on.

I hope you found this post useful. 

What new habits are you forming during this historic time?

Software Solved’s approach to custom software development

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In this short video I discuss Software Solved’s approach to custom software development.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, please check out the transcript below.

Transcript

Hi I’m Rob Faulkner Insurance Practice lead here at Software Solved and in this short video I’m going to talk you through exactly what custom software solutions from Software Solved means.

If you’re looking for a custom software solution it’s likely you want a system that fits with your specific requirement and are no doubt facing the weigh up between custom built and off the shelf.

Ultimately this decision should come down to achieving an outcome that doesn’t see you compromise on critical functionality and also provides the best Total Cost of Ownership.

Having developed many customer applications during the last 20 plus years covering risk engineering, policy administration, rating engines, customer portals and apps you can rest assured that we understand how important it is to make the right choice and ultimately improve efficiencies and gain a competitive edge.

We are flexible in our approach to development and can use either agile or waterfall methodology.

With a proven track record of working as an extension of our customers teams you can rest assured we’re there to make sure projects are delivered to a high quality, on time and on budget.

Our experienced team are here to support you with consultancy, development and support to deliver your projects.

Our business analysts work with you to understand your business objectives and project requirements ultimately creating a specifications document for your solution.

Our project managers keep the project on track both in terms of time, cost and deliverables by continually monitoring the project and budgets.

Our developers are the team that turn the specifications document into a reality. Skilled in a wider range of technologies including .NET, SQL Server, JavaScript, PowerBI, Azure and Xamarin.

Our testing and QA team are an essential part of any successful project.

Our stringent test processes are ISO 9001 certified, providing quality assurance before projects are deployed.

If you need to extend your team on a temporary basis, we can provide access to our expert teams on a short-term contract to assist with large projects or busy periods.

If you want to discuss the potential of Software Solved working with your organisation, get in touch.

An Introduction to Software Solved’s Insurance Practice

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In this short video I provide an introduction to the consultancy services provided by my Insurance Practice at Software Solved.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, please check out the transcript below.

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Rob Faulkner.

I joined Software Solved in 2019 to lead the Insurance Practice.

I’m a Chartered Insurance Practitioner with over 20 years personal experience in the insurance sector having worked for insurers, brokers and software houses across a number of disciplines such as sales, marketing and product management.

My passion is to help those in the Insurance sector identify how to use and implement InsurTech and digital solutions to improve; efficiencies, customer experience and gain a competitive advantage.

Software Solved are a data and software specialist based in Exeter.

We’ve been developing software solutions, predominantly in the Insurance sector for over 20 years.

Our team is comprised of experienced and skilled developers, business analysts, technical consultants, project managers and testing experts.

The team combined have the skills to support our clients at any stage of the custom software lifecycle from consultancy, creating requirements specifications, system and architecture design, development and support.

Everyone at Software Solved is committed to producing the highest quality software which is demonstrated in our ISO 9001 quality management accreditation and ISO 27001 information security accreditations.

Our objective on any custom software project is to get the solution right first time whilst ensuring it meets your business objectives and provides competitive advantage.

Our detailed approach to requirements analysis, specification development and project management on every project is key to our success.

We have been Microsoft Gold Partners since 2010, so you can be confident that we work to the highest standards demanded by Microsoft. If you’re currently facing a challenge with your organisations data or outdated inefficient software systems why not get in touch?

An Introduction to Software Solved’s Data Solutions

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In this short video I provide an overview of Software Solved’s Data Solutions.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, please check out the transcript below.

Transcript:

Hi I’m Rob Faulkner Insurance Practice lead here are Software Solved and in this short video I’m going to talk you through what data solutions we provide here at Software Solved.

Data is the lifeblood of an organisation and has the potential to transform how a business operates whilst increasing profitability.

Our data solutions include:

Data Maturity Assessment – if you’re not sure what the next step is for your organisation in terms of data we will work with to identify your current stage and recommend next steps in terms of projects that will add value.

Data Integration – if you’re faced with manual data processing tasks we can support you to integrate and consolidate your data from various sources and provide one simple easy to use interface removing manual processes, improving efficiencies and giving you confidence in the accuracy of the data you are seeing.

Data Warehousing – if you’re running disparate systems across your organisation we will help you create a central data warehouse ultimately providing better quality reporting and new insights allowing you to make strategic decisions from one central source of data.

Business Intelligence – our team work with you to understand user needs in terms of data and reporting, get to grips with your existing systems and create a plan for improvements that results in an engaging set of easy-to-understand dashboards and visualisations.

That’s a whistle stop tour of our data solutions but hopefully provides you with an insight into our experience and capabilities. If you want to understand your organisations data maturity or start a specific data project and unlock new potential in your data get in touch.

For more information please visit https://www.softwaresolved.com/data-solutions/

If you’d like a conversation, please contact me to arrange an initial video call.

What is a Positioning Statement and why you need one

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Does your business have a positioning statement?

If you are like most people or business owners, when you are asked to describe what you do for a living you will be able to talk passionately and enthusiastically about what you do or what your business has to offer.

If you do this well, I’m sure whoever you are talking to will want to exchange details and may even request you email them with further information.

They are also likely to check out your business website and social media profiles.

What happens when your patter doesn’t match your positioning

Unfortunately, I often find that the business is presented somewhat differently online and in its supporting sales literature.

When this happens, the momentum and interest gained from your initial pitch to your client will fade when they check out your website or sales literature.

They are unlikely to remember all the great things you told them and their interest is likely to dwindle.

The good news is with a well thought out positioning statement that is embedded in all a business’s marketing activities this is completely avoidable and very simple to implement.

You do not need to be a marketer to do this, just follow the process I’ve outlined below.

In this post you will learn:

  • What a positioning statement is
  • How to define a positioning statement
  • Why a positioning statement is important
  • What type of information should be included in a positioning statement

What is a positioning statement?

A positioning statement is a simple, clear and unmistakable description of what your business has to offer your market.

It should comprise a series of sections and bullet points detailing the real benefits that your business can provide to its customers.

You should look to keep it updated as your business grows and evolves (such as updating or adding a new product or service) to keep it relevant.

You should also ensure all of your marketing material is updated with every change.

How to define a positioning statement

To stand out in a crowded marketplace and entice customers to buy you need to take the time to look at your business objectively and develop a positioning statement.

Sitting down with a marketing consultant like me could really beneficial to your business.

I often find that business owners get a real lift by walking through this process with me.

Its often a reminder and affirmation of how great their business is or could be and they walk away with a well defined positioning statement and elevator pitch that they can tweak as they go along.

Here are some ideas:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • ‘why should someone buy from my business and remain a loyal customer?’
  • ‘how is my business different to the competition?’

Answering these questions will help you identify the various positive aspects that your business has that is different or better than the competition.

Talk to your customers

Another useful exercise is just to talk to some of your most loyal clients and ask them why they chose your business, what they like about your business and if they looked at other suppliers why they think you are different.

Talk to your team

You shouldn’t overlook the views of your team, particularly those that actively deal with customers and enquiries.

As a business owner you are likely to be biased towards how great your business is (which is natural) but your team will see things from a different perspective.

Set up a team meeting to brainstorm all of their ideas and work through the positioning statement together.

Its as simple as that.

Other considerations

Your positioning statement should also feed into your marketing plan as it is a key element of determining how to promote your business throughout all of your communications.

Regularly review your positioning statement and update it as your business develops, grows or improves something.

Why a positioning statement is important

Think of your positioning statement as the backbone of your business.

It will help you stand out from your competitors and build a strong brand identity.

The business benefits you have identified will help you create a clear, powerful statement about your business that reflects all of the great things you do.

All these great things you do should be referenced in all of your marketing communications and will hopefully wow your customers.

It shouldn’t be just a list of things, think about how you can bring them to life and sell their positive benefits.

Sometimes writing a positioning statement can be a wake-up call if you aren’t doing anything different to your competitors. It can help you find that differentiator which in many cases is already there but you can’t see it.

To help find your differentiator you may want to think about all the things you can do that would be of interest to your market and update your positioning statement.

What type of information should be included in a positioning statement

Your statement should be packed with the business benefits identified in the ‘how to’ section of this post.

Here is a guide of the type of information you may wish to include:

About your business brand

Whether this is your personal or business brand you should include the following:

  • Experience: particularly if you have been trading for a long time or have significant experience in your sector.
  • Qualifications: If you have a qualification relevant to your trade or profession you should include this, what the benefits to your customers are and why they should seek to trade with businesses that have this. It may result in them dismissing some of your competitors that don’t display this level of expertise.
  • Professional Association: Are you or your business a member of a professional association or trade body?  You should definitely include this.
  • Awards and accreditation’s: Have you won any awards that would put your business in a positive light?  For example, you might have won a regional business award.
  • Testimonials: Have you had any positive testimonials from other well known brands that demonstrate key areas of your positioning statement? A few examples of these can be very powerful.

Key benefits of your products and services

  • Do you have any products or services that customers will struggle to buy on a like for like basis elsewhere?
  • Include the feedback you have received from existing customers as to why they buy your products or services
  • What types of guarantees or warranties do you offer? For example ‘all my work is guaranteed for X’ or ‘we offer a 14 day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase’.

Pricing

  • How can your customers benefit from your pricing strategy?
  • If your strategy is to be the most competitive, do you offer a ‘find this cheaper elsewhere’ guarantee (if not covered in the previous section)
  • If your pricing strategy is about value for money:
    • Do you offer anything for free?
    • What do you offer as standard that your competitors might charge for?

Customer Service

  • Do you have a documented customer service charter? If you do include some of its key features for example, we answer all phone calls within ‘X’ and respond to all emails within ‘X hours’.
  • If you run customer satisfaction surveys state that suggests a high percentage of customers would recommend your business you should definitely include this.
  • Do you have a customer review system such as Trust Pilot?  This can also demonstrate the reliability of your business, for example if you have on average, a rating of 4 stars.
  • How reliable is your service? How quick do you deliver or respond to queries?  Include any facts or statistics you have to back this up.
  • How do you aim to handle complaints satisfactorily? Think about how you can turn an unhappy customer into someone that will recommend your business based on how you respond to complaints.

If you cover all of the above you should be able to develop a good positioning statement.

You can add to these sections with anything else that can add value to your customers or differentiate your business from the competition for example:

  • Environmental policy: if you think this would resonate well with your customers then include it. For example if you deliver bulky items and you use 100% recyclable packaging this can often be seen positively be your greener customers.
  • Corporate or social responsibility: If you have a charity or cause that your business donates to or works with this can be powerful. It shows that you care, are a brand that can be trusted, that your business is credible and acts with integrity.

I hope this post helps you see why your business should have a positioning statement at its heart and that you now see its benefits and the need to keep it a living document that is reflected in all of your business communications.

Please let me know in the comments below what you think or send me a message via social media – I will always respond to you.



Software Solved launches Insurance Practice with 20-year strong experience in the sector

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Software Solved, the data and software specialist, is delighted to announce the launch of its Insurance Practice which is dedicated to serving clients in the Insurance sector. The practice launch builds upon the company’s 20 years’ experience creating innovative solutions for the leading national and global Insurance firms.

Click here to view original web page at www.ceo-review.com



Legacy Systems Can Spell Data Disaster, Tips & Advice Here

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Over the past 10 years we have seen plenty of examples of the type of impact that a security breach or flaw can have on organisations, both big and small. As insurance companies have beefed up the security around their networks and data to keep out the increasingly sophisticated external threat, so the warnings of the ‘insider threat’ have also increased.

The insider threat: understanding your legacy

In 2018 Mckinsey reviewed the VERIS Community Database and found that 50 per cent of the 7,800 publicly recorded breaches between 2012-2017 had a significant insider threat component, with 44 per cent of these due to negligence.

Often employees inside of the firewall are the cause of data breaches and security lapses. Whether this is accidental or intentional, companies are now having to quickly come up-to-speed and deal with it. Ensuring employees have a good understanding of systems and processes to manage their devices, USB’s, passwords and applications, helps cut down the threat of accidental lapses at least.

There is however, aside from the user, another key vulnerability that is often ignored by organisations when they look at the ‘insider threat’; legacy technology.

The insurance sector depends on technology-based relationships and alliances for growth, but more often than not, their legacy systems aren’t designed to integrate with or support a collaboration. In order for insurance companies to keep up with technological progressions as well as the insider threat they should first look to re-architect themselves, with strong security as its backbone.

The insurance sector has always looked to take risks off other companies’ books or to support individuals who suffer losses that would be catastrophic without coverage. As the internal and external threat becomes ever more prevalent following digitalisation, the sector needs to become adept at recognising the risks that stem from legacy systems and react to them accordingly.

High cost of legacy

The investment made in technology often runs into millions of pounds making the task of updating or replacing it a difficult or even prohibitive one for most companies. However, the older the technology the less chance there is that it is up to dealing with the sophisticated threats, externally and internally. Much of it will have been more than up to the task at the point of implementation, but as the years have rolled on, so the threats now facing organisations and their networks are unrecognisable. Systems which companies rely on would not have been built for the integrations that are now necessary. Equally, mobile strategies can be a gateway for hackers looking to access data, especially those strategies that cannot integrate with legacy systems.

Another issue associated with legacy systems is the frustration that some departments feel when dealing with legacy systems. This often leads individual departments to download cloud apps, outside of the control of the IT department. This creates huge risks as the app is not integrated, inside the firewall or even on the radar of the IT team.

So, the cost of replacing systems is prohibitive, and yet legacy systems are causing a real headache to IT departments in insurance companies up and down the country. The key is understanding the complexities behind the legacy system. This can help ensure that systems continue to be a useful and secure element of your business. How do you know if your legacy systems are an insider threat?

Mind the “skills” gap

As those who implemented what is now considered to be legacy technology, or at least were around when the technology was installed, come to the end of their careers, the skills gap they leave behind is vast. Those left in the IT departments across the public and private sectors, have no knowledge, nor any interest in learning about out-of-date code or technology. This causes real issues from an internal perspective.

You can build the protective walls surrounding your networks as high as you like, but if the supporting technology is seriously out-of-date and not effectively managed, there are going to be easy access points throughout. Organisations across sectors are facing this issue. With rip and replace an expensive and often cost prohibitive method, there is plenty of head scratching going on within IT departments.

Protecting your legacy

There are, however, a number of simple steps that organisations can undertake to help mitigate the risk, stabilise systems, improve performance of existing systems and protect their business from an increasing form of insider threat.

  • Consider a Data Security Audit to identify where data is located, how it is managed and processed. Understanding legacy systems is crucial, especially with GDPR; getting older systems in-line with regulation is more important than ever
  • A System Health Check is another cost-effective way of measuring the level of vulnerability within legacy systems. This type of software consultancy also helps organisations take the appropriate remedial actions to get legacy systems ready for future growth
  • Manual processes continue to put businesses at risks. By taking the step to automate them, companies can help to mitigate this. Data visualisation tools like Power BI can consolidate data from all sources to produce dashboards quickly and easily. It is crucial though that systems need to output that data securely and be ready to connect
  • Business Process Mapping (BPM) can also help work out where there are potential problems and inefficiencies within legacy technology. This allows organisations to put into place fixes before there is an impact on the wider business

The insider threat has been talked about a great deal over the past couple of years, but so often it is focused on the faults or criminal intent of employees. However, whilst legacy technology remains in place, unmanaged, it remains as much of a threat as those who are using it, and a combination of both user error and legacy often leads to insurmountable problems for organisations from both a technological and reputational stand point.

Inarguably, technology has brought disruption to the insurance industry in several ways and the reforming insurance leaders are beginning to make investments in the latest technologies that will enable them to become more customer-centric and cost-efficient, helping them to thrive.

Need help with your data? Please get in touch.

Customer Experience in the Insurance Sector

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Why customer experience should be a key focus for leaders in the Insurance sector

Over the past five years or so, the phrase customer experience (CX) has come to dominate the boardrooms of almost every sector in the UK. All of us are consumers in one way or another and through the huge strides made in CX over the last few years, our expectations are now extremely high.

The likes of Amazon and Ocado have taken this to new levels, with products ordered arriving the next day with a constant stream of communication before, during and after purchase. This is the level most consumers expect from all aspects of their lives now. The insurance industry is not isolated from this, with insurance firms having to deal with a multitude of ‘customers’ they need to ensure that they are offering the best possible levels of service.

Covering the basics in a competitive market

The very nature of insurance means that most people experience interaction with the sector at multiple times during their lives. Whether it is insuring their home, business, equipment or lives, customers are interacting with insurers and those associated with the industry constantly, and yet they can expect, generally speaking, marginal customer service.

Indeed, in July 2019 the Institute of Customer Service launched its UK Customer Satisfaction Index. The insurance sector saw a decline of one point since January 2019, following the 2018 report which saw the insurance sector named as one of the three sectors that had a year-on-year decrease.

However, in an increasingly competitive market, CX can effectively make insurance firms stand-out. A McKinsey report from 2017 estimated that CX leaders in the insurance market are 80 percent more likely to retain customers, and have been able to grow sales at double the rate of those not embracing CX.

The reduction of customer churn, whether it be in the consumer or business markets, has to be one of the main focuses for the insurance sector in 2020.

Data is a key aspect of this. Insurers need to be able to interrogate the books of business that they work with in order to identify those that they want to retain and those that they can afford to lose. Therefore, insurers can then tailor their customer experience to the type of customer that they want to retain.

Retaining customers is the most effective way of growing a business. Invesp found that it cost five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one, and in a hugely competitive market ensuring that customers are not attracted to rivals is crucial, especially with margins being squeezed as a result of premium deflation.

Indeed, the insurance sector is now catching up to the idea that different demographics and customer segments require tailored products and different communication styles. Where brokers are involved, much of the customer experience lies with them.

However, many brokers find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to delivering a superior CX due to a reliance on their broker software providers capabilities, particularly around the lack of products available to trade digitally. Many lower volume or niche product lines are administered via insurer extranets with no connected trading with broker systems and this makes it challenging for customers to truly self-serve and impacts broker efficiency. 

Where there is an e-tradeable product, it is often inflexible with limited ability to develop tailored insurance products and schemes for their customers (without significant investment and development time). As a result, a broker will have very few customers (with a need for non-complex products) that can enjoy a seamless digital experience.

In addition, Broker systems have limited CRM capabilities and make it challenging to create a single view of the customer which is crucial for marketing, decision making, product development and personalisation. In addition, broker systems are not geared up for end-to-end multi-channel communications that today’s digital customers expect and very few offer the ability for an integrated app or chat bot solution to enhance customer service.  

This inarguably highlights the need for a change in tact from a technology perspective in order to deliver digital innovation.

The market is shifting

The insurance market is starting to harden in pockets such as Motor, Home, higher risk property, liability and financial lines. Brokers may find it more challenging to find the same appetite and levels of cover for their clients and may be forced to consider excess layers in some areas. Clients will inevitably need to prepare for increased premiums.

For insurers to win business, the Customer Experience that they offer becomes much more important. Those who are seeking insurance will be faced with getting less for their money, so as insurers can’t really compete on price, they need to look for other ways to differentiate and Customer Experience is one way to do this.

This is most relevant in the personal lines area, but commercial insurers will have to follow and look at the value-add they can bring. Access to up to date data for all parties will become more valuable as insurers monitor their risk exposure and insureds look to reduce premiums wherever they can.

Good quality risk management data and the ability to interrogate that data will also become even more important to insurers, so they need to be able to capture it in a user friendly way that gives the customer a great experience and the insurers the data they need.

David using technology to beat Goliath

Many in the insurance sector have been relatively slow to react to the increasing expectations of their end users. However, there are a few disruptors making a move in this space, such as the smaller, more agile, players in the market such as Trov, Oscar and Lemonade that have a ‘customer first’ strategy. As a result of this these smaller organisations have been particularly effective in taking customers away from the larger, more traditional, insurers.

It has appeared that these large insurers have been unable to react, with new, smaller, agile players running rings around them, offering a superior customer experience. These agile companies have an additional advantage, not having spent thousands on IT infrastructure in the past decade, investment that simply can’t be ignored, or scrapped. However, it is this infrastructure that is holding many insurers up.

Their IT systems often contain outdated customer portals, poor levels of responsiveness, and very poor user experience for those customers trying to use outdated technology on phones or portable devices. Contrast this with new insurers who are immediately prioritising a mobile user experience.

These trends translate across the B2C and B2B insurance markets, with the large players now having to play catch up.

Recent research into digital innovation conducted by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) found that 40% of brokers believe that the sector has not embraced innovation, with 77% said the cost of innovation was the main stumbling block. However, BIBA also suggested that forward thinking brokers could potentially outrun the competition through smart investment in technology from agile vendors which also has the potential to improve the customer experience between brokers and insurers and their end users.

Data is the key

One way for the Goliaths to get back on even terms with the new, agile firms, is ensuring that they are making the most of the data they have and use it to ensure the sector delivers the best possible customer experience.

By gaining actionable insights from data and bringing disparate and complex intelligence together in one place, firms can gain real value. Having the ability to generate greater insight into customer data and understanding the trends that can be identified with data visualisation, larger players suddenly have the tools to make a real difference to their ability to offer the best possible customer experience, without having to rip and replace existing infrastructure.

Digitising elements of customer service

2020 will be the age of customers managing their relationship with a company without interacting with a human. Gartner suggest that 85 percent will be doing exactly that. The insurance sector has, generally, been slow to recognise this, but is now starting to get it right in small pockets. In order to allow the customer experience the type of CX they get in almost every other aspect of their personal and professional life, insurers and brokers have to develop an intelligent digital offering.  By using solutions to provide the customer/broker experience, insurers can immediately make a huge impact on the level of customer experience they are able to deliver. The use of customer portals, apps and online chat, will give the end user, the type of experience that they now expect.

Those large insurers who do not, or feel that they cannot, commit to such changes due to legacy infrastructure, will be left behind. The new, more agile companies, whose businesses have been set up with customer experience at the front of their offering, will and are taking customers, who are no longer loyal to the older, slow moving brands, but prefer to have a great customer experience instead.