The insurance landscape is in a state of rapid change. Agencies are experiencing a transformation that we can all agree is long overdue. Adopting new technology and optimizing operations can be painful and must be managed with strategy and proper direction. You can change technologies quickly in the right circumstances, but altering how employees think about their roles, the business, and culture doesn’t happen overnight. The time required to transform hearts and minds must be built into your change management plan.
3 Principles of Change Management
Change management combines behavioral and social sciences, information technology, and business solutions to lead individuals and teams through organizational change. By valuing your staff and understanding what change will mean to them, you can create a culture that embraces change and avoid failed change efforts.
At Applied, we build our change management strategy around three core principles:
The people who make up your organization are potentially the most crucial element for change management success. In the case of automating workflows, employees must understand how the agency’s operation impacts customer experience and buy into the necessity to improve it. Once you have buy-in, you will need to closely monitor employee engagement at each stage of the process to address resistance while also creating a shared sense of urgency for change. Continuously and openly communicate with the entire organization to foster listening and provide a sounding board for issues and concerns. To show staff that you’re creating a receptive and transparent environment, include them in the planning process from the beginning to clearly define goals, roles, and processes.
Processes detail how work gets done and provide a plan for how you’ll introduce and systemize your technology strategy. Your team’s manual processes might be deeply rooted in their daily workflows. Putting together and documenting a robust implementation, onboarding, and education strategy, with the help of your technology provider, will help field any potential risks to success. And of course, processes should always be evaluated and updated based on best practices and the lessons you learned along the way.
Technology investments should encompass all aspects of your business, from empowering staff to connecting with customers and carriers. It must integrate with your existing applications to deliver a consistent user experience and create a single view of your business.
Steps to Successfully Navigate Change
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for a successful change management strategy, let’s build on these principles with tactical ways to create change in your organization. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the methods my team uses to help customers adopt technology, it provides a few ways to incorporate the principles of change management into your process so you can better strategize initiatives that deliver value.
Begin with the result in mind.
First, determine what you want your agency to look like, or your “desired outcome,” and create a plan to achieve it. Explain it well enough for your staff to visualize this better place and feel how it will positively impact their day-to-day processes.
Define technology requirements.
Identify areas of deficiency in your agency’s processes, considering how current technology is used. Then begin to imagine how technology can transform workflows for the better. Make sure to invest in technology that meets the expectations of both your customers and staff in today’s digital age.
Find internal champions.
The people within your business who have embraced change and found success will unlock success in others. Document their use cases and achievements so they can serve as an example to others within the company. Encourage internal champions to spread their success with their peers. With their hands-on help, others in your agency will be more optimistic about the road ahead.
Develop metrics and milestones.
To know if your change management efforts are successful, you will need to define the keys to success and use the necessary tools for tracking your progress. Your wins are everybody’s wins! Schedule milestones so employees can see and celebrate. This will also motivate your people to keep going as they see their efforts working.
Remember that communication isn’t one way. Your key stakeholders will often have insights that you don’t, so it’s important to encourage continuous dialogue that can help others and your plan overall. As you lead your organization through change, new and unexpected challenges will arise. No change program goes entirely as planned. If you can adjust and move forward, you will have undertaken a successful change management initiative.
Why Change Management Is Important
Change management is often one of the scariest parts of technology adoption, frequently hindering organizations from innovating and leading to more challenges. But successful change management can empower and motivate employees when executed correctly. With the help of a multi-step process and leaders who demonstrate their commitment to success, organizations will reap the rewards of innovative technology that drives future growth.
Read the Driving Innovation in the Digital Ecosystem of Insurance eBook to learn how your agency can tap into the digital ecosystem to make doing business more productive, intelligent, and valuable.
Chief Customer Officer
Trevor Bunker, Chief Customer Officer, leads Applied’s customer experience organization, including the strategic direction for the company’s services, support, and customer success programs. Trevor joined Applied in 2020 with more than 20 years of customer service leadership experience. In his last role, he served as CCO at RealPage, a vertical SaaS company serving the real estate market, where he oversaw a team of 1,000 responsible for all post-sales customer experience functions. Prior, Trevor spent 13 years at CA Technologies where he rose to be Senior Vice President of Product Success, Customer Adoption and Software Subscription Renewals.