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Ring the changes

1. Undertake a thorough audit of strategy and business processes with the support of an external consultancy

2. Question why things are done the way they are

3. Identify synergies

4. Identify inefficiencies

5. Remember that customers are the driving force behind the organisation

6. Set clear, achievable objectives

7. Implement change one step at a time

8. Deploy appropriate technology solutions to support changes

9. Create benchmarks to measure the success of changes

10. Communicate changes throughout the organisation

Regulatory pressures are forcing life companies and IFAs to review their business processes and, specifically, their technology requirements.

But off-the-shelf technology solutions solve only some of the issues facing organisations.

All too often, technology is purchased without the corresponding consultancy, implementation and training support – the “sticking plaster” solution. Yet administering your own remedies can be an unnecessary risk when you can seek diagnosis and treatment from those who have experience and knowledge of the fundamental problems surrounding the business.

One of the driving forces for change in the industry is the new breed of sophisticated consumer. Expectations and knowledge are far greater than in the past. Consumers no longer tolerate excuses of backlogs or systems problems. Their expectation is of a 24/7 service which treats them as individuals. Service quality and speed are uppermost in their minds.

Customer care makes existing clients feel good about the business and may attract reinvestment but does not in itself bring in new customers. Yet customers want good returns on their investments as well as good customer care – not necessarily a trade-off between the two.

Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the way that our administrative and marketing teams work together to win hearts and minds.

As well as satisfying the necessary administrative functions, back-office staff will continue to find themselves operating at the point of sale. This creates a requirement for skilled, suitably qualified and experienced staff with a focus not only on customer service but also customer development.

For execution-only business, greater use will be made of technology to support point-of-sale activity. The challenge for the industry is to be creative in product designs, giving customers the desire and confidence to buy products directly, increasingly via the internet. Application forms should be structured to allow straight-through processing, with the minimum of back-office involvement. Even post-sale, customers may handle part of the administration of their policies.

But an IT panacea to solve all the industry&#39s problems is an unrealistic prospect. Forward-thinking industry players have seen the importance of the effect of software, which goes beyond the technology itself. These players also realise that they cannot afford to make a mistake. As such, they are beginning to utilise the skills of specialist consultancy services to tap into both industry and IT expertise – and get it right first time.

Such services help companies balance how they handle strategy, technology, processes, attitudes and customers.

The objective is to help them develop harmony within the business through a new customer-centric dynamic in order to bring more than survival – to bring success.

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