Canadian Underwriter

How brokers can get ahead in the data science game

October 10, 2018  

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Corporate leaders are becoming convinced of the wide-ranging impact that effective data collection can have on the bottom line, and insurance companies and brokerages are no exception.

This impact can be felt across the organization, from tracking daily reports against key performance indicators to making informed decisions about where to spending marketing dollars. It also extends to monitoring and evaluating customer communications and adjusting product offerings.

“Data science is now a quickly growing discipline, giving people with any kind of data expertise a serious competitive edge,” wrote twin brothers Vadim Revzin and Sergei Revzin in a blog titled Make Data a Cornerstone of Your Team, posted on Harvard Business Review Tuesday. “Many are investing heavily in hiring talent with data skills and building out data proficiency across the organization.”

The authors recommend three steps to becoming a more data-driven company. One is aligning the company towards the new mission. Getting executive buy-in is paramount; getting teams and individual contributors to form new habits comes down to leading by example.

Let’s say the brokerage decides to pursue a new business vertical based on data collected by the sales team. There is an opportunity to educate other members of the team by clarifying how the sales team was able to successfully leverage data to validate the demand in this new vertical – from setting up customer interviews, to tracking responses in a spreadsheet and reviewing them as a team. “Just taking this one step can motivate others in the company to start thinking about ways they can do the same thing in their own roles.”

Executives can also encourage team leads and managers to be more deliberate about highlighting successful outcomes from using data. A sales manager, for example, could report how two reps pitched a new customer segment, increasing the average contract size by $500.

“Highlighting wins like this does a few things,” the authors wrote. “It builds trust from employees that can now clearly see that the company is deliberate in how it makes important decisions. It also motivates colleagues to emulate their peers to have an opportunity to be mentioned by leadership in the next all hands meeting.”

One way to make data top of mind is to display it all over the office: install a TV showing a few data dashboards or load up a Google Analytics dashboard and have it always running. “People will start to notice trends, like when traffic spikes during the day or when social media activity is at its peak, and can then have impromptu brainstorming discussions around how things can be improved.”

The second recommendation is to focus on personal growth. If an employee takes an interest in diving deep into a particular solution, like Google Analytics, give them some time during the week to become certified in those tools. Managers can be given the freedom to approve inexpensive online seminars and courses, or even offer to cover the cost for anyone interested in taking evening or weekend classes around topics like data science. If an employee excels at manipulating data to provide new insights, they could be given a platform to train their peers.

The last recommendation is private and public recognition: giving employees recognition, on a regular basis, for great work. Train managers to focus on providing private recognition to exceptional employees. Many sales team integrate weekly one-on-one meetings between managers and employees to identify challenges and offer help.

Companies can also create a “data expert of the week” award in which the company shares success stories from employees. You can even offer a little financial incentive by asking people to nominate someone else on the team, offering a $200 gift card to the person that gets the most votes, for example.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.

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