Supporting AgentsBy Eileen Feretic Print
For New York Life, “good enough” is never good enough. The company strives to serve its customers and expand its business by encouraging and funding creative business and technology initiatives.
Some of the company’s other innovation efforts focus on information technology. New York Life has a dedicated agency workforce to sell its products, and they are provided with a tremendous amount of technology to help them run their business, according to Slevin. That technology includes a Web portal system developed exclusively for the agents.
The Web portal gives agents access to numerous applications that provide a wide range of information, such as ledger data, sales rankings, news and e-mail. Over time, more applications will be added.
“Last year, we added a collaboration platform, EMC’s eRoom Documentum product,” Slevin says. “We worked with EMC to build use cases and to make processes easier and more collaborative for our agents. They simply go into eRoom to access and send documents, conduct e-meetings and share business cases. Everything has an audit trail and is authenticated.”
Currently, New York Life is creating a Web-based contact and calendar system for its 10,000 U.S. agents, which is scheduled to be rolled out during the fall.
Though these efforts were developed for the U.S. workforce, Slevin says, “We are willing to give whatever technology we have in this country to our global agency workforce, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get that ready for them.” The international group currently numbers more than 40,000 agents and is growing rapidly.
As an example of sharing technology across borders, Slevin cites the company’s development group in Reno, Nev., which creates Web software for agents so they can model illustrations for New York Life prospects and customers. (These illustrations help clients understand how an insurance policy works.) A version of that program is also available to the company’s international agents.
Working With Emerging Technologies
New York Life’s customers are certainly not neglected when it comes to technology innovation. In fact, the company recently introduced Web 2.0 functionality on newyorklife.com, enabling customers to provide feedback in real time and to rate individual articles on the site.
They also can use links to access the top social networking sites, and can bookmark and share information. Another new feature, Read This Page, allows site visitors who are visually impaired to click a button and hear Web content read out loud.
“We’ve gotten very positive feedback on the enhanced site,” Slevin says. “This functionality puts us in closer contact with our customers and prospects. It’s also a lead-generation site—both for new customers and to recruit agents.”
Although Web 2.0 does raise security concerns, that’s not a barrier for New York Life. “Security is obviously very important to us,” Slevin says. “Everything we do is put through a very stringent security review, and that applies to our Web site as well, so we’re confident that the site meets our security requirements.”
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