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Vertafore and Microsoft Partner to Enhance CEM for Insurance Professionals

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Vertafore and Microsoft Partner to Enhance CEM for Insurance Professionals

April 09, 2015
By Peter Bernstein
Senior Editor

It has been a growing refrain from insurance technology industry analysts, solutions vendors, start-ups, and insurance executives as well for the past year.  The fact of the matter is that all aspects of the traditional ways in which insurance business processes work and how carriers interact with their customers are in the process of major disruption.  In addition, despite the warning signs of major disruption on the horizon the entire insurance sector has remained a tech adaption laggard.

The message to incumbent major players especially has been if they do not invest in next generation solutions to improve/automate operations and deliver greatly enhanced user experiences in terms of handling claims and answering inquiries, they will suffer the consequences.  In fact, many of the predictions have been dire in regards to the speed at which business can be disrupted. 

There is growing evidence that the message has been received.  From the connected car to looking at the impact obtaining information from fitness trackers to better use of automation in claims processing, the industry is starting to change its ways.  In fact, adoption of new technology is not just based on stories about investigation of new ways to deal with a more connected world, and significant operations transformations now underway.  It is also evidenced by the growth in new solutions offering either from single vendors or in collaboration with partners. 

An example of the latter is the announcement from Bothell, Washington-based insurance business process transformation specialists Vertafore that they are partnering with Microsoft (News - Alert) to provide insurance agents access to the capabilities of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform.

The partnership is aimed directly at customer-facing interactions with the objective of providing frontline agents with the valuable data from their customer relationship management (CRM) systems from Microsoft and that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.

The capabilities, which will be integrated into the Vertafore Agency Platform and mobile offerings, will extend to Dynamics CRM pipeline management, prospect & opportunity tracking, email campaign and other CRM capabilities. 

As Vertafore highlights in the announcement of the partnership, “a recent report by Novarica found that insurance professionals are starting to deploy CRM-driven campaigns that share valuable customer data across the distribution, underwriting and service channels. CRM deployments are expected to increase in 2015, with 21 percent of respondents planning to integrate them into their business.”

Customers of the Vertafore Agency Platform will now be able to leverage the Microsoft Dynamics platform to have a complete view into the entire policy lifecycle. This means being able to  track prospects and use the extensive amount of  information to increase customer conversion rates.

“Positive customer engagements are the cornerstone for all customer-facing organizations,” said Bob Stutz, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “Insurance has long been a high touch point industry and it’s now more important than ever that insurance professionals invest in solutions that help them win and retain customers. Microsoft Dynamics CRM together with Vertafore will put the power of customer data in the hands of agents, enabling engagements that are more personalized, proactive, and predictive.”

This announcement follows the recent one that Microsoft will offer special discounts to Vertafore customers on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, HP, and Toshiba (News - Alert) Tablets which will provide better accessibility of agents with customers when the agents are working remotely or are away from their desks.  Combined the two announcements, according to Vertafore, illustrate validation of a recent survey by Channel Harvest Research. That survey found that over the next two years, insurance agents expect a significant increase in tablet-based applications over smart phone apps, especially for display-oriented tasks like sales presentations and training. A quarter of agents (25 percent) expect tablet use to increase for sales purposes and 22 percent expect tablet use to increase for accessing training tools.

“Our newly announced Dynamics CRM relationship, coupled with access to Surface tablets will further extend the power of Vertafore’s agency platform and transform the way insurance agents and carriers interact and manage customer relationships,” said Theo Beack, CTO of Vertafore. “Moving forward, we’ll continue collaborating with Microsoft to innovate legacy processes and identify more efficient ways to bring cutting-edge enterprise technology to the insurance industry.”

Insurers historically may have been technology laggards but they are getting with the program in terms of leveraging the cloud, mobility and sophisticated analytics to enhance operations and the customer experience to become more competitive.  It is an encouraging sign of the times. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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