Lack of standardization hurts more than you realizeFixing the problem can help you sell more
In every service industry, the process of adopting new technologies plays out in much the same way. Companies start out doing a particular function manually (e.g. paying a claim, booking a flight, processing a check). Over time, technology arises to standardize and automate these functions allowing companies to increase efficiency and effectiveness. The early adopters see the most benefit because they get a leg up on their competition. Others resist because they perceive the pain and risk associated with the change as too high to justify the effort. However, in time adoption of the technology becomes universal because the benefits are so obvious that they become impossible to ignore.
Complex and time-consuming process
The process of submitting and tracking quote requests is complicated and time-consuming because, for the most part, it is still done manually. Standardizing and automating the RFP process can result in substantial cost savings and improved service. Yet the idea of change is met with skepticism and resistance because “we’ve been doing it this way for years”.
Most brokerages, TPAs, and wholesalers have one or more dedicated employees with a title of or similar to “RFP coordinator.” This position is critical to the organization but difficult to staff. These individuals spend the bulk of their time managing the various phases of the quoting/RFP process. Each phase of an RFP often requires multiple iterations, which, when multiplied across all the carriers and MGUs to whom the request has been sent, resulting in scores of interactions for a single group. The burden of managing this flurry of interactions falls on these coordinators.
These coordinators must know where everything stands with every group at any given time. This is critical because it is their job to keep the organization's frontline sales and service representatives up to date on the constantly changing statuses of every RFP.
Unfortunately, however, the most commonly used tools for are email and spreadsheets. Both tools present numerous limitations since neither was designed specifically for the RFP process.
One limitation is that, due to the quantity of email correspondence related to any given RFP, it is not uncommon for important information to get lost. Regardless of who lost it, it usually falls to the RFP coordinator to waste time hunting through lengthy email strings to locate the needed information. Another limitation is that the RFP process requires a level of information sharing that spreadsheets were never intended to handle. The risk of someone operating on out of date information is high and the cost of doing so is huge.
In order to deal with the stop loss processing challenges, each stop loss coordinator creates their own method for managing RFPs using email and spreadsheets. In effect, the coordinator develops a proprietary hold on the process, making it difficult to train new frontline employees in the quoting process. The RFP coordinator becomes an information silo to whom account managers and sales executives must continually turn to extract the data and information they require to close sales and service customers.
This division of labor is not only inefficient, but it can also be detrimental to an organization’s ability to provide quality service to its clients. This is because the people who know the customer best, the sales executives and account managers, are also the ones who know little about the RFP process since they have forfeited this critical knowledge over to the coordinator. Until recently, however, the lack of adequate tools made it impossible to merge job functions.
Root Cause: Lack of Standardization
Every organization has felt the impact of these issues on their business to one degree or another. As business increases, additional staff is added. However, since the RFP process continues to be done manually, additional staff only increases the number of information silos and further amplifies the number of inefficiencies present in the system. This is because the core issue remains unchanged; that is the lack of a standardized, automated process that everyone from managers to frontline service and sales representatives can follow.
The Benefits of Standardization
Standardizing the RFP process helps eliminate the inherent problems of information silos. Process standardization also reduces the amount of training needed to onboard new employees and enables sales and customer support representatives to quickly learn the RFP process. By having frontline employees intimately involved with all aspects of a client, organizations can significantly improve the service they provide to their clients. The ability to provide such high-quality customer service increases customer confidence and loyalty.
No matter the size of the organization, every organization deals with scarce resources. There is always a long list of initiatives the organization would undertake if resources were available. By taking advantage of new technologies, early adopters are able to free up resources, giving them the opportunity to make more of these initiatives a reality. This enables them to gain a competitive edge while providing added value to their clients.