Founded a century before socially conscious businesses came in fashion, life insurance company Royal Neighbors of America is making IT infrastructure purchases to support its business and its philanthropic mission. One of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, Royal Neighbors’ goal is helping women meet the needs of their families with annuities and life insurance products. Founded in 1895, the organization is headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, with a branch office in Mesa, Arizona.

“Anything we can do operationally to be more efficient and effective, which saves on costs, furthers our philanthropic goals,” says Denise Hiner, manager of the distribution center and document systems analyst for the fraternal benefit society, which has been in business for more than 120 years insuring women and those they care about.

It’s through this lens Royal Neighbors began considering how to update its customer communications processes in early 2013, when its legacy document creation and inserter technologies neared end-of-life. In addition to replacing obsolete systems, the 120-employee insurer was expecting dramatic growth due to pursuing new strategies and policy initiatives.

“To prepare for the anticipated growth, we originally focused on replacing our inserter,” says Hiner. “After discussions with our insertion vendor partner, [Monona, Wisconsin] Postal Source, we realized the opportunities were far more substantive if we automated and integrated workflows end-to-end with a modern CCM [customer communications management] solution.”

Empowering the business to reduce IT burdens

As Royal Neighbors already used high-volume mailing software Satori Ignite, the insurer sought a CCM compatible with it and the anticipated new inserter. A key requirement was empowering business users to own the process, rather than always requiring assistance from IT.

“At the time, simple issues – like needing to reprint a mail piece that was chewed up during inserting – meant creating an IT ticket,” Hiner explains. “It just didn’t make sense for us to continue on that path.”

Royal Neighbors headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois
Royal Neighbors headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois Royal Neighbors

After conducting some preliminary vendor investigations, Royal America sought the advice of Postal Source and received two appropriate options. “One was our incumbent vendor’s latest release and the other GMC Inspire by GMC Software,” Hiner says. “We approached both vendors and asked them to provide us with a proof of concept [PoC].”

During the PoC, Royal Neighbor’s incumbent vendor demonstrated how its solution could meet basic needs, but it still placed most of the operational burden on IT. “By contrast, the GMC solution enabled our department to manage processes, customize workflows and troubleshoot issues,” says Hiner.

Of added attraction was GMC Inspire’s complete integration of Satori Ignite, enabling users to access the features and functions of both systems from a single dashboard.

Phase I savings top estimates by 3 percent

To maximize up-front automation gains, Royal America divided the implementation into three phases based on savings and efficiency potential. This put billing, membership cards – which enable policyholders to receive discounts on products and services – and individual annual reports and correspondence letters into the first phase.

The initiative kicked off in January 2014 with a requirements deep dive. In April, development began. Royal Neighbors’ IT department built the environment required for the on-site version of GMC Inspire and started performing integrations with various internal systems. Meanwhile, GMC Software assisted with business tools support and knowledge transfer to Hiner’s four-person department.

Soon Royal Neighbors discovered its legacy policy administration system was incapable of completing a specific correspondence-related task with the needed consistency and accuracy. This required moving individual correspondence from the first phase to the second.

When the new CCM solution went live in February 2015, business growth was running at nearly 50 percent per year, making the automation rewards all the more timely.

For starters, eliminating manual processes saved Royal America from increasing Hiner’s staff by 33 percent to handle growth-generated document volumes. Also, due to more advanced software, bulk discounted mail volumes, increased from about 50 percent of total mail to over 70 percent, resulting in corresponding savings.

Further, the insurer is already exceeding total annual projected postage savings of five percent. “Actual annual savings so far is running at about eight percent,” Hiner says.

Rounding out the deployment through 2019

Having taken a break to modernize its policy admin system, with EXL’s LifePRO, Royal Neighbors just launched the next phase of the CCM deployment in July. It’s comprised of fully transitioning annual statements and individual correspondence into GMC Inspire, with expected completion in late 2018.

The final phase, policy contracts, is slated for 2019. “We’ll require more GMC Software resources for that phase, as contracts are state-specific documents and therefore more complex,” says Hiner.

Meanwhile, the benefits of CCM go beyond the dollars and cents saved thus far. “Now, my department is less focused on manual mailing chores and is adding value to the business in other ways,” Hiner says.

“Perhaps most exciting,” she continues, “is the ability for GMC Inspire to unlock data and insights unavailable to us before. Although we’re just beginning to explore GMC Inspire’s advanced analytics and modeling capabilities, we expect to gain even greater advantages by leveraging the stories our data tells us.”

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