Everyone seems to be talking about 2020, the coronavirus pandemic, and the lessons they’ve learned from both. What lessons did you learn? Have you looked for them? We mean really looked. Are you sure?
Objectively speaking, it was a year of change. It had to be. As we were reminded constantly, the old normal was gone. It also was a year of opportunity, depending on they ways in which you viewed, accepted, and responded to the changes. As Sun Tzu said, “In the midst of chaos is also opportunity.” Now we’re almost halfway through 2021. If we learned anything in 2020, we should be well along in applying it now.
Here’s What We’re Doing
We’re investing heavily in research and development. And since we’re quoting people, we’ll point out that, while Malcolm X didn’t work in the insurance industry, he did say, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” And if 2020 taught us nothing else, it taught us the best way to accommodate change is to always be anticipating it and preparing for it.
First and foremost, you want to try to get ahead of the curve. A lot of insurers were well-positioned for change. For those that were, 2020 paid dividends for them. Another of our favorite quotes is from Will Rogers, who said: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Case in point: One of our insurance carrier clients told us 2020 was their most profitable year ever.
Here’s What Insurers Should Be Doing
It’s important for insurers to put themselves in a position to take advantage of the turmoil. That may sound like a strange thing to say in a risk-averse business. But it’s true, nevertheless. If they employ the OODA loop — observe, orient, decide, act — they’ll be able to better identify their opportunities: Do they have the right systems in place? Are those systems modern enough to meet the growing demands of the 21st century — flexibility, configurability, responsiveness? Are they maximizing and optimizing their digital channels? Are they making sure they have the information they need to make the right decisions, to act quickly, decisively, and fruitfully in the face of uncertainty?
Are they giving their prospects and policyholders better digital experiences? Are their digital capabilities backed up by capable, well-staffed call centers to ensure service is accessible and well-managed if issues have to be escalated beyond digital channels? Are they offering their policyholders more and better opportunities for self-service? What about their agents? Are they looking out for them? Are they providing the fully functional portal to give them access to what they need? Are they providing mobile access? Do they have the tools to sell more and process less?
The Moral of the Story
The moral of this story is that 2021 will demonstrate what we learned in 2020. As long as we looked for those lessons, learned what they had the opportunity to teach us, and determined to take those lessons into the future, it’ll be harder to surprise us the next time.
The people who are exceptionally good in business are not so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.
(Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited)