overhauled and updated its technology interface across sales and distribution
channels to improve the
customer and independent agent experience. Early on, the effort included
collaboration with agency partners to determine the best pathway to success. John
Delemontex, director of sales technologies at MetLife, provides ACT News
with some background and highlights on the carriers digital transformation.
ACT News: MetLife has gone through a number of changes with the addition of commercial lines, a focus on independent agent ease of doing business, and balancing direct-to-consumer functionality. Tell us a little about the changing face of MetLife's technology roadmap.
John Delemontex: MetLife Auto & Home is focused on delivering for our customers and our agency business partners. Our current roadmap is based on the evolution of technology and customer expectations within digital insurance as well as feedback received from our agent partners. Today, we are seeing so much innovation taking place within the property and casualty industry. New technology is enabling us to greatly improve the ease of doing business for independent agents as well as the customer experience based on today's consumer shopping behaviors.
The goal for our digital transformation of MetLife Auto & Home is to let customers drive their own experience with the business by implementing an omnichannel workflow. This approach will allow us to leverage new technology across sales distribution channels and service platforms by allowing customers to select what works best for them. If they want to shop online for insurance, talk with an agent before purchasing a policy and then perform self-service once purchased, we'll offer customers that capability.
ACT News: What do you see as the ongoing IA challenges in continuing to advance effective tech and workflow implementations?
John: Coming out of the last ACT meeting, I was struck by how complex an independent agent's business has become. An independent agent who simply opened an agency to sell insurance and protect neighbors in the community now needs to be a technology expert to implement a workflow for customers and agency staff in order to remain competitive in today's marketplace. And at the same time, agents need to understand how to protect their agency from cyber attacks, comply with applicable privacy and ADA regulations, and keep an eye on new innovations. The agency needs to have a clear digital strategy so it can select the best technology partners to navigate today's interconnected digital insurance industry. Carriers and independent agency partners need to continue to understand the technology trends of consumers and agencies alike while building solutions that are easy to implement.
ACT News: Everyone is talking API." When you apply your insurance company lens, what benefits do you see APIs providing to agents and customers?
John: There is little doubt that APIs can make both agents' and customers' online experiences easier. The capability to simplify new business and customer service processes, plug into IoT data, or conduct other policy administration functions can make day-to-day operations and development of new technologies seamless. As you said, everyone is talking API. In my mind, an API is a solution, and a strategy should not start with the solution. I believe the conversation should start with identifying the tasks or the user experiences that need to be improved and then determine if an API is the proper solution.
ACT News: Looking into the future a bit, how do you see advancements in the areas of IoT and AI helping or challenging insurance companies?
John: I view our job as working on a jigsaw puzzle with a limitless number of pieces and no borders. We see IoT and AI as additional pieces to this puzzle. Each opportunity could bring value to the customer, the agency or the carrier, as these programs range from discounts to better underwriting and rating, to claim support during a catastrophe, to compiling and leveraging data. There are so many opportunities, and the marketplace will dictate which capabilities will succeed. So the challenge will be for the carriers to effectively organize to understand the opportunity areas within their company so customers will have a flexible platform to act quickly, and carriers need to have strong governance policies in place to measure success. The carriers that organize most effectively will give themselves a competitive advantage.
ACT News: What are the biggest gains you/MetLife have seen by having a focus on implementing ease-of-use technology?
John: We have been impressed with the level of support we received from our independent agent partners in developing our new platform as part of our digital transformation. We performed numerous rounds of agent feedback and focus groups to be sure our new platform meets their needs. It was incredible to see the amount of time and feedback our agents provided to ensure our mutual success. In addition, our focus on developing our new platform has provided our associates numerous professional growth opportunities. Virtually everyone in our organization is directly involved in developing the new platform for our digital transformation or indirectly by managing our legacy systems. All associates have needed to learn new technologies, rethink current workflows, understand how end-users will engage with the technology they are building, and figure out how to bring it to the marketplace. These skills will benefit associates and MetLife Auto & Home as we leverage the new platforms for years to come. And of course, our true gains will be realized when we launch our new ease-of-use technology to our agents and customers across the country.