It’s mad to think you can achieve behavioural change by putting people through a generic training programme.
Solution Cell’s successful relationship with AIG is built on adaptability, modifying its programme to achieve the aims of the business and tailoring content to meet the needs of individuals.
“I was impressed with Solution Cell in the first place by their competence in understanding our business,” recalls Neil Minnich, Head of Personal Insurance, AIG. “They seem adept at understanding us and our people’s needs,” he says.
That understanding has deepened during nearly four years of a partnership aimed at developing the technical skills and the commercial presentation, selling and negotiation skills of AIG’s underwriting teams throughout Europe.
AIG finds that increasing customer demands mean underwriters need to acquire and hone their commercial skills to make the best of deals. “We’re dealing with increasingly complex and specific requirements, so we have to really probe brokers to make sure that we understand their needs and those of the end customer,” Neil explains, “so when it comes to offering a proposal, we’re hitting it exactly right for the broker and the customer.”
The programme Solution Cell developed with AIG has two strands all under the brand of the AIG Masters. Firstly there are the technical underwriting skills; the second strand focuses more on the advanced commercial skills that underwriters increasingly need to acquire.
But the programmes are far from static. “They have gotten to know our people and are able to understand what’s working and what isn’t,” Neil Minnich explains, “and with continual review we’ve been able to modify the programme over time,” taking a good programme initially and making it better.
It’s also tailored at an individual level. “We’ll ask the managers what their people’s needs are for technical improvement as well as behavioural change. Often it’s in negotiation skills as it is such a specific skill and often you’ll find underwriters are less familiar with it than the brokers they are selling to,” and that can make a big difference to the outcome.
After the initial sessions with AIG’s underwriters, Solution Cell follows up with webcasts to hear how they’ve applied what they’ve learned in day to day business. They all have to report on what they’ve done, and how successful they have been.
They also do simulations where an underwriter will prepare a pitch to a broker and Solution Cell will critique it and provide individual suggestions for improvement.
Both activities provide reports to AIG which show improved behaviours and ultimately improved sales for AIG. That’s important for Neil as he can quickly see progress. “They know there are checkpoints established in the programme to make sure that not only are they understanding and properly learning the new skills but putting them into practice day to day.”
“We’ve definitely seen a measurable improvement in both landing new business and in renewals,” he reveals, “and we expect that they’re going to continue to be more successful in commercial situations.”
It is a working partnership that is improving AIG’s underwriting performance. But that is only so because it is carefully designed and individually adapted to make the maximum impact across the business. It is customised to the needs of AIG and its people.
“One thing that makes Solution Cell different is that their focus is always on our objectives, what we’re trying to accomplish and how they can help us. I never feel they’re trying to sell me something else.”
Neil Minnich, Head of Personal Insurance, AIG