Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
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Before I get to the question:
I came home from a trip last Sunday. My wife had lovingly bought me a DVD while I was gone. As I decompressed and watched it on Sunday, I began to realize why she was so excited for me to see it. I recorded what I considered to be the essential point as it relates to new technologies and ways of doing business in insurance sales and marketing. See what you think…
For those of you who’s company still blocks Facebook, here’s the text:
“I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, he always gets bloody. Always. It’s a threat not just a way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods. It’s threatening their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins, that have their hands on the switch, they go bat-shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not tearing their team down right now, and rebuilding it using your model – they’re dinosaurs!”
-John Henry, Moneyball, speaking to Billy Beane (Brad Pitt)
Spot-on regarding Social Tech and its impact on insurance companies and agencies.
A question for the crowd: As we move into the “Experience Era” (as I heard one insurance executive aptly put it recently), here’s a question that was posed to me regarding Social. Note that this question came from an insurance company on the other side of the world. But it’s a question many people would like to discuss and hear actual data-points on.
“Best in class organizational setup. Where should social media be located in the organization (Marketing, Online Service, Corporate Communication, own department). What are the typical function to be in place to run it and what are the key skills and competencies the staff need to bring in to fill such roles?”
Please Comment, perhaps based on your own experience, perhaps based on conversations with industry peers. The more specific the better. What have you seen work well? Fail? Thanks in advance.
Four years ago, I presented on Social at The Big “I” Agent’s Council on Technology (ACT) meeting in Tampa [pictures - boy was I young!]. I was impressed with the savviness of the group, the leadership, and the breath of fresh air they gave me as one coming from the Life & Health side of the insurance industry. So I stayed in touch and have helped out with various things, like the Social Media Policy Guidelines and various Webinars and other projects.
Yesterday, our fearless leader, Jeff Yates with The Big “I”, sent an email that stimulated thought. I’d like to share it with my community – and ask a couple questions I’ve been asking a lot these past 4-5 years.
Next week I will once again be attending the ACT Meeting, this year in Dallas, with a talk on The Future. As always, I’ll also be grabbing media and sharing thoughts via Twitter, probably via the same hashtag. Feel free to follow along if you can’t make the event in person. It’s going to be REALLY GOOD.
From Jeff Yates via email:
The latest live webinar put on by ACT’s Social Web Work Group – “Getting a Grip: How to Manage your Independent Agency’s Social Media” – attracted 634 attendees last Friday. There is obviously very strong agency interest in this subject, which is a very good sign! Our panelists did a great job and shared a number of excellent insights gleaned from their successful experiences using social media.
As Chuck Blondino, Safeco Insurance, a long time industry participant and observer, remarked to me after attending the session:
“I think it’s interesting how people like your panelists today all started at the same place as beginners, but today they’re speaking a different language, one of accomplishment, achievement, success and confidence, while others are still at the beginner stage and have a hard time seeing past challenge and the unknown. Agents of the future will need to take stronger steps towards change…
Thus, it remains extremely important for us to continue to publicize the successes agencies are having with social media and to continue to extend the reach of our message. A good place to start is to communicate the availability of the recording of this session on the ACT website at this link.
From Me (Mike):
The thing that I find remarkable and the reason why I wanted to share this in an area where others could comment:
Chuck with Safeco is right on target. Socially-enabled and savvy agencies like those around Ryan Hanley, Chris Paradiso, and Angelyn Treutel, not to mention Claudia McClain, Jason Cass, and others, and the Socially savvy carriers that support them, like Katie Peet at State Auto, and others, are indeed speaking a whole new language. They are implementing all new bizdev, sales, and service strategies and tactics that very successfully leverage new technologies to grow their agencies, often at the expense of their competitors, and increase take-home profitability, PLUS improve customer satisfaction, referrals, recommendations, etc.. And those who listened into the Webinar but who are NOT doing these same things, they are sort of out in the cold, knowing there is something good going on inside but they just can’t get in there.
I’ll go further than that. It’s been my observation that there are still a ton of insurance executives, the actual leaders of agencies and companies, who still today snicker about Twitter, barely use Linkedin, block Facebook and YouTube, are still using dread Blackberries, are not savvy to Crowdsourcing, and essentially prevent people on their teams from advancing their agencies and companies with these tools and strategies.
We’ll be chewing on these tough issues next week at the ACT meeting in Dallas (Reg deadline is Thursday). But in the meantime, 2 questions I’ve been posing across my Social graph for the past 3 years:
1. How do you convince – mentally – a very successful Agency or Company executive, one who has achieved that success in the past, largely non-Social Tech era, and as a result who is now suffering from an awful cocktail of success, wealth, complacency, non-technical skills, and resistance to change… how do you encourage them to loosen the grip, to go from the “command-and-control” business model to the round-org-chart-Social-enterprise with an adaptive culture fully leveraging new technologies and concepts like Big Data?
2. And what’s at stake if very successful Agency or Company executives DON’T go hard after these new technologies, to the point where they themselves can set the strategic business priorities and guideposts that INclude, not EXclude, them? What is the likely trajectory for their enterprises?
If you see this, please take a moment to settle, think and comment. Please. We need these ideas. And they need to be public. Thanks in advance.
So the headline begs the question. I’ve got some ideas, but I really want to hear from you!
First it was e-Commerce. I remember coming to ICMG for the first time in 2004 at Aventura. E-business!!! Web sites with online quoting, e-Applications, Agent Portals, Agent Contracting, Online Policy Maintenance – all that stuff. Everybody SAID they were doing it. But very few people were ACTUALLY doing it. And the ones that were doing it weren’t doing it very well!
Fast forward 10 years. Most people are doing all those things, and doing them pretty well.
But now the same comments apply to Social Tech, don’t they? Everybody SAYS they are doing it. But very few people are ACTUALLY doing it. And the ones that ARE doing it aren’t doing it very well!
So what are we going to be talking about next? What’s beyond Social Tech??? Prognosticate in the comments below.
Btw, my 30-second commercial for this year’s Member Introductions.
“I’m helping insurance companies and large agencies understand how to leverage Social Technologies. So things like Crowdsourcing, Online Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, Video’s, Podcasts, Measurements – all that. I help folks develop the strategy that suits their organization. I’m also running public and private Social Tech Boot Camps for Insurance Executives. I’ve got 5 public ones scheduled for the next 10 weeks. Lastly I’m working on a video of this conference. The question? What’s your favorite part of ICMG? And what’s your favorite movie line? Social Tech – there’s a ton of low-hanging fruit if you know what you’re doing.”
So what’s next??? Mobile? Wearable technology? Implantables? Thanks in advance.
Katie Herbst Peet is an industry veteran when it comes to insurance companies and Social. Katie started out in Social at Westfield Insurance near Akron, OH. Then she got married and relo’d to Columbus with her husband, whereupon she started helping State Auto with their Social Tech efforts.
Since I was already going to be in Columbus meeting with another prospective insurance company client, Katie graciously agreed to do a podcast from her office. The topic we tackled piggy-backs on the last, highly active, post about executives and “Abdication“:
Given that my audience is executives, I would like to focus on your experiences with best practices as you observe them at the executive level that have a positive impact on the ability for the insurance organization to become a more Social Business.
Listen in. CLICK HERE to open or download the MP3 file.
17 Key points made by Katie from my POV:
Thanks Katie. I hoped it would be good and you delivered.
What questions or comments do YOU have for Katie? Now’s the time. Ask away. She’s listening.
I read a recent article that spoke about the critically important role Social Technologies will play in the survival of business. The focus was the current lack of participation in Social Tech at the executive level. While the article wasn’t specifically pointed at the insurance industry, based on my experiences within the insurance vertical, especially the Life, Health, and Accident sector, my experience affirms the following truths.
So do you see how incredibly damaging it is for insurance company executives to abdicate technological strategy? I heard it said this way recently,
I doubt that there’s actually deception going on – a necessary component of treason, but you get the point: If an executive is tasked with strategic leadership, and yet they don’t understand technology, much less set the direction for its use, aren’t they putting the enterprise at risk?
The top insurance companies today are actually “technology companies in the business of insurance” rather than “insurance companies leveraging technology.” The most effective executives in insurance tomorrow will be the ones who understand technology, who use it with their own hands, who write about technology and teach it to their staff and business partners, and who create dashboards that will continuously put new information in view about how to leverage technology.
To that end, I’ve got a handful of public Social Tech Boot Camps for Insurance Executives scheduled over the next few months, plus a few private ones. After that, I’ll be moving on.
What’s next? A LOT. But if executives don’t understand Social Tech and Web analytics, they won’t be able to understand and apply what’s coming after.
Do you agree? Or is there still more time to wait and see on Social Tech? Is the Blockbuster video demise instructive? They fell off a cliff. Is the current overhaul of the health insurance business model a direct result, among other reasons, of an industry not leveraging technology to the point of exasperation of the constituent base? (Remember, Obamacare passed by ONE VOTE.)
Am I out in left field on this? Please drop a Comment. Perhaps then Share the post on Linkedin and ask your network to Comment as well.
What’s at stake? What’s the solution?