Those who introduce new concepts are not necessarily still around to see their ideas fully accepted into the marketplace. Remember way back when dot-com companies were springing up all over the place and telling you to “Transform your business model or cease to exist”? Most organizations scoffed at this admonition and continued going about their business, successfully.

Yes, it was the dot-com companies that ceased to exist. However, the concept of using the Internet to improve our business models continues to evolve to this day. Is every financial services organization there yet? Not by a long shot. Do they recognize the need to get there? You bet!

In our recently completed survey of industry executives, we asked respondents to rate their company’s focus on various operational strategies. One of those choices—expanding accessibility through phone, Web, e-mail, and voice response—received a 100% “most likely” response. Accelerating service delivery (an element related to accessibility) received a 96% rating.

It turns out that increasing accessibility is just that—increasing versus substituting. This evolution to increased access, while good (and necessary) for the customer, often increases complexity and costs for your organization. Before, there were two possible ways to get items into your company: hard copy or phone requests. Now there are a half dozen: the two aforementioned ways, plus e-mail, fax, Internet, scanning into work flow systems and combinations thereof.

As companies make major investments to expand accessibility for the customer and distribution systems, streamlining the supporting processes becomes even more important. Overlaying these systems on cumbersome back-end processes might eliminate mailing time, but it will often result in increased operational expenses unless the interfacing processes are streamlined as well.

Whether you are doing business through one or several channels, redesigning your supporting processes and using main sequence straight-through processing to match this new technology will deliver the service, productivity and cost improvements you expect.

Ben DiSylvester is executive director of The Robert E. Nolan Co., a management consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ben using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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