• September 12, 2013

    10 Years of Research Reveals Keys to Carrier Success

    Our analysts synthesize the data from 65,000 independent property and casualty (P&C) agent interactions to provide insights into how competitive performance drives business through independent agents

    Competitive performance drives business through independent agents

    Ashfield, MA - September 12, 2013 - Deep Customer Connections, specialists in property and casualty insurance carrier/agent research and consulting, today releases key insights and findings from 10 years of research into the factors that cause agents to write more business with one property and casualty carrier over another. Deep Customer Connections' research model, validated by 65,000 independent P&C agent interactions and 2.8 million data points, encompasses 11 carrier performance factors that matter the most to agents.

    According to Deep Customer Connections analysts, knowing what makes it easy for agents to write business is the first step to increased business. More important, carriers need competitive performance metrics in order to identify and act on their best opportunities to drive more revenue through independent agents.

    "For P&C carriers, the overriding secret to improving organic growth through the agent network is to consistently measure and improve performance in key factors relative to their competitors," says Nort Salz, CEO of Deep Customer Connections. "Successful leaders use clear and detailed competitive metrics to inspire and implement productive change. We've had the pleasure of collaborating in many carrier successes over the past 10 years."

    According to John Bykowski, CEO and Chairman of the Board of SECURA Insurance Companies, competitive metrics play a crucial role in maintaining SECURA's competitive advantage. "No insurance company out there says they provide mediocre service," he says. "A company like SECURA that distinguishes itself on ease of doing business has to embed it into their culture so that every person in the company lives and breathes exceptional service. Competitive research from Deep Customer Connections shows us where we stand on that goal year over year, and the analysis of those metrics guides our strategic planning and helps us prioritize projects."

    The data and insights generated by Deep Customer Connections over 10 years reveal several important findings for P&C carriers.

    Key Findings

    • Large performance variations exist.
      Although average carrier performance scores have remained relatively flat since 2006, significant differences persist in how well individual carriers perform. For those carriers at the top, these variations create a competitive edge. (See Figure 1.)

      Figure 1

      Furthermore, as shown in Figure 2, top carriers significantly outperform other carriers across all 11 Performance Factors. Individual carriers can and do change position within each of the Factors over time, particularly when they pinpoint areas for improvement and put targeted programs in place.

      Figure 2

    • Averages hide opportunity.
      Figure 1 also illustrates a common phenomenon known as the smoothing effect of large numbers, where averages tend to hide underlying trends or variations that can indicate an opportunity for competitive advantage. Comprehensive and granular analysis of competitive metrics is necessary to uncover specific areas of opportunity, whether pockets of excellence that can be mined for best practices or vulnerabilities that require improvement.

    • Top performers build "making it easy" into their culture.
      According to Salz, top-rated carriers consistently and proactively search for ways to make it easier for agents to write business with them. "It's not a program, it's not a project. You have to embed this priority into your culture if you want to excel at it," he says.

      Salz also notes that most top performers measure their progress regularly to keep all employees focused on their goals. "Most people want to excel in their jobs. Each set of metrics provides feedback and directs their attention to competitive shifts and changing expectations."

      "Each year we publish our list of Top 10 performers to inspire carriers to improve. These high performing carriers represent an achievable level of aspiration for all carriers."

      The next Top 10 report from Deep Customer Connections is due out in January 2014.

    • Carriers require independent metrics.
      It is difficult for P&C carriers to accurately gauge their own competitive position. Agents often provide candid feedback directly to carriers in carefully measured doses for fear of compromising the relationship. In addition, carrier executives' perceptions of their performance tend to be overly optimistic. In fact, according to a joint study with NAMIC in 2010, carrier executives significantly overrated their own company's performance across most Performance Factors compared to agent's ratings. (See Figure 3.)

      Figure 3

    • Qualitative data add depth and meaning to the metrics.
      According to Salz, listening to what agents have to say in their own words is valuable in several ways. Their comments bring quantitative data to life with rich detail. They often reveal best practices that they experience from carriers, providing insight into specific opportunities to excel. Agent comments can also be powerful motivators for making critical improvements.

    "Simply put, agents place business with carriers that make it easy." says Salz. "In our experience, companies who formalize programs for improvement and who regularly measure progress are the ones that gain additional market share."

    More Information

    For more information or to request a complimentary 1-hour consultation with Nort Salz, contact Deep Customer Connections at 978.263.6100 or, or visit their website at

    About Deep Customer Connections, Inc.

    Deep Customer Connections, Inc. specializes in research and consulting to help property and casualty carriers achieve profitable growth by making it easier for their agents to write more business with them. Deep Customer Connections' Opportunity Index is an industry benchmark of carriers' performance. Further details of the 2011 survey results are available from Deep Customer Connections at 978-263-6100.

"We are constantly contacted by consultants wanting to help us, but few know very much about the insurance business. Deep Customer Connections is very aware of the business, especially how the distribution system works for companies that use the independent agency system, and we find that very refreshing." - Randy Ramlo,
United Fire Group

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