Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
Staff Writer | June 29, 2020
Chris and Zbigniew (Ziggy) spent over a decade working for AAA, specifically in IT, improving digital landscape on the P&C insurance side. Chris managed implementation and maintenance of policy, claims, and billing systems as well as other customer and agent facing supplemental applications. Zbigniew was managing overall application development and QA.
Last year, they launched ClearLync with the goal of applying their insurance business and IT knowledge to help other small and medium size P&C insurance companies. ClearLync is a full-service software consulting firm that specializes in custom web application development, core system implementations, system maintenance, user interface and experience design for insurance systems.
You have both a strong project management background and insurance expertise. When did you first see the need for the services you provide to your target clients?
Chris: Working for a larger carrier provided access and exposure to industry conferences where we would meet people from other insurance companies that had similar challenges working with the same applications being leveraged by our company. Over the years we were able to successfully assist and provide those individuals with solutions to remove the roadblocks they were experiencing with the various applications. This became the catalyst for us to make the transition from the carrier side to launching our company.
Why the focus on the InsuranceNow product? Do you have plans to specialize in other vendor platforms?
Ziggy: InsuranceNow was leveraged by our previous carrier for their policy, billing, and claims solution. We’ve been working with InsuranceNow for 10 years and have both managed and maintained all aspects of the application that included hosting, implementation, third-party integrations, and developing custom applications that tie into InsuranceNow. We would love the opportunity to work on other systems, but from a business perspective it made sense for us to focus on what we know best.
What are the main competitive advantages you provide for your clients?
Chris: We’re not just a group of software developers. We come from the carrier side, which provides us with the knowledge of Insurance and the ability to bridge the gap between the business side and the technology side of the house. The business knowledge allows us to seamlessly work within each area of a carrier to understand their business needs and translate those into a technology solution that makes sense.
One of the services ClearLync provides is helping carriers manage a distributed work force. How has this accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis?
Chris: With recent events, most people are now working remotely. We thrive within this type of environment model since this is how we operate. The key to making this work efficiently is implementing a solid communication plan from a process standpoint and leveraging technology in a thoughtful manner to keep everyone engaged. This allows for the continuation of a smooth workflow and business continuity with clients, stakeholders and team members.
Ziggy: Things are also changing from an agent perspective; they’re not seeing as many personal interactions as they’re used to. Many customers now may prefer contacting their agent in ways other than face to face, and that’s where technology helps. COVID-19 has changed the world and we need to adjust. Agent and customer-facing web sites and applications are even more important now. In fact, we believe that we are in a phase where sales and customer service for insurance products are being redefined. Excellent communication tools and technical solutions to enable them are a must and this is where ClearLync can make a difference.
What are your clients’ most pressing needs and how do you help them?
Ziggy: Their most pressing needs are their most immediate needs; if they have a system problem, they need a pro to help them ASAP to get them going. But while that may be the most pressing need, in the long term they may also need help in simplifying their environment, migrating from systems that are no longer supported, or combining several systems into one. We can help them keep operations simple, organized, clean, and efficient.
How do you see carrier technology needs changing with the advance of tech tools like AI and ML?
Ziggy: It has already changed. Big players are working on AI to help them with the customer service experience. For example, AI systems can advise CSRs on how to handle the customer conversation based on data provided. AI and more robust data analysis are helping insurers to deliver a better customer experience. We don’t know exactly how those tools are going to be used specifically in insurance business, but it’s something to keep close eye on. Small to midsized carriers have to stay well informed and quick to adopt these technologies when they become commercially feasible for them to implement.
Chris: The most advanced tools might be still quite expensive and cost prohibitive, we’re not seeing small or midsized insurers really using AI a lot at this point. Some bigger insurance are using IBM Watson AI for customer experience, but it’s not available yet at a price point that makes sense for smaller companies. However, this is changing quickly. Amazon and Microsoft makes new tech tools available every month and at the price that is quite attractive. It is coming quickly to carriers of any size, and we would like to be able to help them adopt it.
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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
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