How fraternal leaders can create superior member experiences

Fraternal organizations have a long, proud tradition of serving and protecting their members — but aging legacy systems make it increasingly difficult to meet evolving agent and member expectations.

Fraternals have a unique need to create exceptional member experiences

Fraternal organizations have their roots in benefit societies that have provided for families and communities going back over a hundred years. Members do business with Fraternals not necessarily because of price or features (though those are important) but often because of the fraternity itself — because they share common values. It’s the members, not profit, that guide the actions of the organization.

Fraternals are unique when it comes to the strength of the bond between their members and the organization. Maintaining and building these relationships makes creating unique and exceptional member experiences the biggest priority for many fraternal organizations.

Part of delivering a world-class member experience is being able to offer unique products and services that address particular member needs and values — such as policies for uninsurable children or products focused on orphan benefits. The other half of the member experience equation is support and service — the critical interactions that build trust and confidence in the organization.

But, as an organization’s technology infrastructure ages, it is less and less able to deliver superior member experience solutions. At the same time, member expectations are rising fast. And the gap is growing.

The evolving member experience challenge

Fraternal members are undergoing the same ‘expectation revolution’ as everyone else when it comes to how they want interactions with organizations to feel, how quickly those exchanges are completed, the amount of effort required, and whether they are satisfied with the outcome.

Their expectations for insurance interactions are shaped by the highly personalized digital experience they have when they buy a product recommended by Amazon, or watch a movie suggested by Netflix. Support and service are available online, whenever and wherever the member wants. It’s multichannel. It’s instantaneous. And it delivers the desired result.

Members expect the same type of experience when they go to their fraternal organization’s website. They are no longer interested in just waiting for their annual statements to check policy information. They want to be able to make policy changes such as billing or beneficiary instantly, without having to call a support center or meet with an agent. They want to initiate claims in real-time and have their new business application processed in minutes not weeks.

The impact of the covid-19 crisis

Disaster recovery, physical distancing, and legacy system challenges made executing the Fraternal charter difficult. The disruption created by the onset of the pandemic has paved the way towards a new way of working for agents, and higher customer experience expectations.

In an Equisoft Accelerate Series webinar, Roger Soppe, Vice President, Insurance Advisory, explained,

The role of the traditional agent and face to face selling has certainly been challenged, and I think it's going to be continue to be challenged. Fraternals are going to need to evaluate their distribution channels as they move forward.

Legacy policy administration systems can’t deliver superior digital member experiences

All of the benefits of the long tradition of Fraternals — like high member confidence and trust in the organization — can be undone by the long tradition of patching and upgrading old policy admin systems instead of modernizing.

Many Fraternals have core legacy systems that are 20 or even 30 years old. They prevent organizations from quickly developing new products, responding to regulatory changes, and, most importantly, delivering the world-class member experience the community deserves.

These old systems, often with green screen monitors and archaic COBOL programming, have closed architectures. Product changes often require programmers to write new code, a time-consuming and expensive proposition. And that’s assuming they still has enough IT staff to maintain and program the old systems.

The graying workforce is putting pressure on insurers and fraternal alike as the staff responsible for the legacy platforms is retiring and new hires lack the knowledge and experience to work on these outdated platforms.

These outdated core systems are still able to service existing business — but, typically aren't capable of supporting the future needs of the company. They aren’t able to deliver fast product development and lack APIs to integrate with digital front-end tools like agent and member self-servicing portals that are critical to meeting member expectations.

To continue to deliver on the long-proud fraternal traditional organizations need to replace their outdated core systems with the modern, rules-based back-end platforms and integrated digital front-end tools that will enable them to create exceptional member experiences.

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