Paul Keckley, a health care policy expert with Navigant Healthcare, believes that now is the time for the industry to engage in disintermediation. What is this and what does it have to do with client portals and farm sharing programs?
Consider how people got their organically grown foods years ago. Some time ago someone interested in fresh tomatoes or cucumbers would drive to the nearest farm with hopes that there would still be produce available. Either that, or they would head to the farmer’s market with similar thoughts. There wasn’t any guarantee what they wanted would be there or that they would pay reasonable prices. However, farm share programs changed the delivery of produce goods in ways that help both sides of the equation – the individual who invests in the farm share as well as the farmer. This is a form of disintermediation in the way farms receive support and consumers receive organic foods.
What does organic produce and support for agriculture have to do with insurance? The model for each of these requires change and so too may insurance providers’ methods for delivering services to their clients.
Delivering a longstanding product in a new way is the essence of disintermediation, according to Keckley, and this concept can help carriers make sure their value-added services are utilized often. The same old product can get stale, but add real value and package it in an engaging and accessibly way – such as investing in a farm’s future or a client portal – and all of the sudden it is interesting again to clients!
“Come on, clients don’t use that stuff,” is a common refrain among insurers who are reluctant to upgrade what they already offer. Why spend money on improvements if they go nowhere? Here’s the thing though, client portals are like farm share programs because they increase direct interaction back-and-forth. This is why they’re worth the money.
What client portals do is improve communication. When your audience can communicate with you without hassle, they’re more likely to do so. That increased engagement will lead to value-added service utilization. Portals can be used to store compelling content, direct questions to legal experts, deliver updates and more. Simply logging in will give clients access to all of those tools. Similar to how a farm share program sources a consumers’ food to a single farm, a portal places all of the service a client needs in one place.
All sorts of professionals use client portals to improve engagement, so what is stopping insurers from doing the same? Cost of implementation may be an obstacle, but the return is substantial and almost assured. Increased client engagement through a portal is a better guarantee than expensive organic produce at Whole Foods. Some things in life are just givens. In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers explained that portals offer insurers the opportunity to “deepen policyholder relationships.”
There is an important difference between client portals and farm share programs, though. A portal offers more than delicious corn. PwC put together a list of what every insurers’ client portal should include:
- A “360-view” in one place: Clients should have access to information on the carrier, the services offered and the policies. There should also be links to third-party information, such as social media.
- The ultimate user experience: A portal should be responsive on any screen and include links to anything the client could possibly need – calendar, question forum, helpline and more.
- Possible to personalize: Offer unique user log-in credentials and options to organize the portal according to the client’s needs. When the user can make the portal his or her own, it becomes a much more engaging tool.
Just like the farm share programs revolutionized the relationship between consumers and farmers, a single-access portal can transform your value-added services for the better, and subsequently improve your client relationships. Grow your own like a fresh tomato and serve it to your audience and watch engagement with value-added services climb.