When Jacksonville, Fla.-based Allstate Workplace Division, a provider of disability income, hospital indemnity, term and universal life and supplemental insurance products, developed an electronic worksite application called AllApp, the company went out to the field to build a consensus about how the application should be designed. This is a departure from the way many insurers develop agent-enabled programs--within a so-called "home office" mentality. "We didn't develop the program from our headquarters. We went out to the agencies and performed focus sessions," says Joe Jamerson, vice president of training, Allstate Workplace Division. "This gave us a good view of the difference in serving large-size employer groups versus smaller ones. The key is, agents want simplicity and ease of doing business. They want to have access to insurers with accurate underwriting systems. And, they want to improve their back-office efficiencies as it relates to customer billing." In developing AllApp for its network of 16,000 independent agents, AWD--an operating unit of Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Corp.--enlisted its key agents to help develop the system. AllApp features a combined product illustration and application tool, automatic underwriting capabilities and streamlined payroll deduction and billing. And, it's designed to cater to smaller employer groups, something that was more difficult to do with the company's flagship sales tool, Workplace Choice, which catered to larger employer groups (500 lives or more). "Workplace Choice is a sophisticated tool that helps agents and employers determine things like total benefit compensation. It served too as an human resources (HR) steering mechanism that could move employees to a PPO from an HMO because of data and side-by-side dollar comparisons," explains Jamerson. "It involved a lot of pre-case setup. With AllApp, one of our agents can go in to a small employer group and finish off an enrollment package the same day. It really fits the bill for the agent that wants to sell benefits programs to employer groups of less than 500 lives." AWD performed a four-week pilot and when the company "turned off the pilot," it went back and evaluated the merits of the program further, says Jamerson. "Agents had input in how to best tweak AllApp--everything from aesthetic features involving the appearance of the interface to navigational factors, such as why did this screen appear during the workflow, and perhaps we should eliminate it altogether," says Jamerson. In serving the smaller employer groups, AWD agents are now able to complete a group enrollment package 30% to 40% quicker using AllApp, Joe Jamerson, vice president of training, AWD, says. "We made sure this program gathers and asks all the necessary questions up front in a more timely and efficient manner, updates product changes and information automatically and helps agents use their laptop as a true marketing tool, not just a presentation tool," adds Jamerson.
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