Formstack VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently sat down with Michael Sturgis, Consultant and CEO of SCI 360, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak and Michael had a far-ranging conversation that covered Michael’s unique business focus on Salesforce and insurance; the perfect storm in insurance technology; use cases for managing the customer journey in insurance; and the decision to partner with Formstack. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
The Insurance Vertical & Salesforce
Zak: You are the first insurance-focused Salesforce consulting company I’ve spoken to as part of this series. How did you get into the insurance business?
Michael: Out of college and the United States Marine Corps, I started working at Great American Insurance, where I worked in personal lines and commercial lines claims. In the late-1990s, I was recruited out of Great American Insurance by a technology company based out of Chicago, Illinois—CCC Information Services.
My initial roll at CCC was Product Specialist for a new managed litigation program for pooled attorneys. Later, I moved into various other roles as Director of Product Sales and Implementations, VP of Outsourcing Division, and—my last position—VP of Insurance Sales and Service.
Zak: What happened next in your career?
Michael: I worked at CCC for just shy of ten years. After CCC, I partnered with two customer executives to start a third-party administrative outsourcing firm concentrating on insurance recovery services. A few years later, I became involved in another venture selling non-standard insurance in Texas. Along the way, we had set up a management consulting firm, which sourced managing services to each of these entities. That originating management services company later rebranded SCI 360. By the way, SCI 360 is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Zak: Ten-year anniversary—congratulations! And now you’re focused specifically on Salesforce and insurance?
Michael: Yes. We’re a boutique Salesforce partner within the financial services vertical, specifically within the insurance sector. We perform pre-sales support, implementations, and post-sales support for Salesforce customers.
Zak: How did your Salesforce relationship develop along the way?
Michael: My first introduction to Salesforce came while working at CCC in 2003, when we implemented our sales team on Salesforce. After leaving CCC, I carried Salesforce into each business venture. As Salesforce expanded their capabilities and we learned more about the platform, each of our businesses expanded use of Salesforce: managing our sales, service, and operations on Force.com.
During these roll-outs and expansions, it became clearer and clearer the full capabilities of Salesforce and how we might be able to assist other like companies within the insurance vertical. After extensive research and analysis, it was clear the impact technology would have on the insurance vertical. In early 2012, the SCI 360 team cemented plans for converting 100% of our attention to Salesforce consulting—for example, delivering service applications built on Force.com to the insurance vertical service market.
Zak: Is your work done on the Financial Services Cloud?
Michael: Yes. Salesforce’s first big move in the insurance vertical happened on the agency side. As a CRM, entering the market with agency solutions for selling and binding policies made complete sense. It’s the beginning of all journeys with an insured. You buy a house, you need insurance. You purchase a car, you need insurance. As Salesforce expands its presence in the insurance vertical, we’re developing solutions for service providers to assist servicing insureds. Our original design had 15 applications planned for the AppExchange.
Zak: You’re right at the forefront, bringing both the insurance industry expertise and now the Salesforce expertise.
Michael: That’s right. We call it customer-centric modeling. We know our customers, we speak their language because we’ve sat in their seats, and we understand their challenges. We connect with our customers, bringing them the knowledge to work with incredible products like Salesforce and Formstack. And, ultimately, we work with our customers to increase enduring value.
The Perfect Storm in Insurance Technology
Zak: Since you’re sitting at this intersection of CRM and insurance, how do you think about the top use cases for how CRM gets applied to insurance as a vertical?
Michael: We created a fishbone diagram to map out the customer journey insurance lifecycle and built our engagement model.
Zak: Interesting. Can you tell me more about this fishbone diagram?
Michael: Let’s look again at what happens when you purchase a car. Roughly 85% of all new vehicle purchases are financed, and financial institutions require insurance. Most bureaus of motor vehicles require proof of insurance upon registration. Naturally, you purchase a vehicle, and you start your insurance journey—some by surfing online, and others by calling an insurance agent.
Hopefully, your journey stops at that point, but with six million auto accidents a year, the insurance journey has just begun. That is where we see the greatest opportunity for carriers to better connect with their customers.
Zak: How so?
Michael: After an accident, your insurance policy requires that you report a claim to your carrier within a reasonable amount of time. Traditionally, vehicle owners would provide you an 800 number to call. But today, we live in a mobile world—one that requires an omni-channel presence.
Some carriers now offer the ability to report a claim with a mobile app. Others offer a call center where you call to speak to a CSR, providing details of the accident. Some carriers maintain their own contact center, while others outsource that service to a third party. Each process and channel is an opportunity for each company and customer.
After reporting your auto claim, your carrier will validate coverage to start the repair process. Carriers don’t repairs cars, but they do hold relationships with the some 35,000 collision repair facilities in the US that do repair vehicles. As a vehicle owner, and customer, you now get passed along to a repairer for additional processes and channels. You need a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. What if you’re injured and seek medical assistance? Each process and channel fits within our diagram.
If you look at the entire journey for an insured, from inception of a policy through to all conceivable paths associated with servicing that policy, we focused on providing solutions for that insured. We see a perfect storm brewing within the insurance vertical, with gaps between carrier and consumer, as technology leads to increased consumer demands.
Zak: Perfect storm, ooh. That’s provocative. What makes it a perfect storm?
Michael: Let’s focus again on auto insurance and the auto repair process. Traditionally, insurance carriers manage the vehicle repair process for vehicle owners directly with repair facilities through what are known as direct repair programs. Each carrier developed their own program and managed that process through their own technology.
The challenge today stems from mobile devices and the power of modern connected technology. Carrier and service providers must keep pace. Mobile devices and advanced technology make consumers powerful.
Consumers want to engage with speed and efficiency. Expectations of efficiency extend when consumers forego personal data to ensure that service providers personalize interactions. Couple in the social impact of modern times, and consumers are very powerful. They don’t want carriers telling them where to go to get their car repaired—that vehicle owner has choices at their fingertips. They seek peer reviews for best choice.
Most insurance company legacy systems can’t keep pace. Insurance companies and service providers must connect in new ways.
Zak: What I’m hearing you say is that the customer experience matters more than ever, and the insurance companies need to modernize their approach to engage the customer throughout the process.
Michael: Exactly. And the fishbone diagram guides the touchpoints along the customer journey.
Zak: And Salesforce and Formstack help your customers standardize the information that gets passed from party to party throughout the entire process.
Michael: Right. Every part of that journey has to be controlled. We methodically lay it out as a journey. We’re honing in on key service providers based on our customer persona, and we figure out where they fit into each touchpoint of the fishbone diagram.
SCI 360 and Formstack
Zak: You’ve touched on it some, but how does Formstack fit into your solutions?
Michael: Our customers are transitioning to Salesforce. We want to make that transition as smooth as possible. Because your Formstack Salesforce app is native to Salesforce, it makes it very easy to show and explain how forms for all of these use cases along the customer journey can be managed right in Salesforce.
That makes our customers’ lives easier. It makes the process a lot smoother. It’s all about making the user experience a little easier and more concise. That’s why we love Formstack. It’s native functionality and the interconnectivity with Salesforce was a huge selling point. It’s intuitive for the user, and that’s what attracted us to you and why we put our stamp on the product.
Zak: What are some of the specific Formstack use cases you’re seeing as opportunities?
Michael: The ease of building out a form that will interactively communicate with Salesforce and present usable data in a controlled single format.
For example, a vehicle owner needs to schedule an appraisal. With Salesforce and Formstack, appraisals can be managed via SMS/MMS, email, and contact center. Upon assignment of a repair, a personalized message can be automated to the vehicle owner to schedule an appointment. All the vehicle owner’s information is included in the form, and that form is branded and interactive. If the vehicle owner needs to update their information, they may do so within that form, and it updates within the service provider’s instance of Salesforce. Within the same interaction, the vehicle owner can also schedule and confirm their appointment for their appraisal. Again, all within the same interaction—no redirection, no delays. It’s mobile, personalized, and efficient.
In legacy insurance environments, each connection carried its own burden, and the process was clunky. Salesforce and applications within the Financial Service Cloud clear those connections.
Zak: I like how you are connecting the dots between the perfect storm you described earlier, and how you can help your customers both make the business process more efficient and improve the customer experience.
Michael: Formstack’s product is native to Salesforce—it sits within the AppExchange. Our customers know that when they download the Formstack app, it is integrated within their platform. When they create a form that presents information directly to a customer, it is accurate and seamless to update. It is secure and trusted. The financial service vertical requires trust, and customers know they can trust Salesforce Cloud.
Zak: You recently completed our partner onboarding. How did that go?
Michael: It was great working with your team on how we could apply use cases to our vertical. It was also interesting to see how Formstack is getting more closely tied in to the insurance vertical with your eSignature product. That further validated the fit in the insurance vertical.
You went through the partner onboarding process with us quickly and with distinction. We don’t make a lot of referrals in this regard, by the way; this is a meaningful partnership to us.
Zak: Us as well. The use cases that you’re working on with customers, for collecting data and putting it to work in this insurance space, are powerful.
Zak: It’s time for the lightning round. What are your hobbies and interests?
Michael: My bride of 29 years and three kids—they are my hobbies. I also like cycling, and I’m a history buff. Both colonial and world history.
Zak: Do you have a favorite productivity tip?
Michael: Plan your day every day and categorize the tasks associated with it. Failure to plan is planning to fail.
Zak: What’s your favorite TV show?
Michael: It’s been recreated! “Magnum PI.”
Zak: What’s your go-to lunch during the workday?
Michael: Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. It’s a local favorite. They put chocolate in their chili, which makes it really good.
Zak: OK, last question—a big debate here at Formstack. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Michael: It’s on a bun, so no, no it’s not!