(Ameritas headquarters in Lincoln, Neb. Image source:Ameritas.)
When Ameritas Life Insurance’s (Lincoln, Neb.) group division learned that its customer correspondence solution would no longer be supported by its vendor, the company knew it had to move fast to replace it. State regulations required the company to use maintainable software or be assessed fines. Ameritas knew that for its business to keep pace with an ever-changing marketplace, it needed to find a solution that was designed to provide a path forward.
The Ameritas group division’s responsibilities include creating and underwriting plans, marketing, sales, administration, claims, service and maintenance and compliance. The existing correspondence solution generated all of Ameritas’ policies, certificates and ID cards, amounting to approximately a million pieces annually.
Distributing Correspondence through Customers’ Preferred Channels
“Our first objective was, of course, to replace what our solution was doing, recognizing that the marketplace was going to increased digital delivery of documents,” comments Noah Mastel, supervisor of administration and technical support, Ameritas. “The next objective was to find a solution that provided the ability to easily deliver documents to our customers through their expanding preferred channels.”
Specifically, Ameritas needed the flexibility to either print a given document, display it online or distribute through other channels such as text messaging, Mastel stresses.
Ameritas’ team immediately undertook a selection effort, identifying about a dozen correspondence solutions, and then narrowing the list to three finalists. “Once proofs of concept were completed, we agreed that Quadient [Boston] Inspire offered the expanded capabilities that would keep us on the leading edge of technology now and in the future,” Mastel says.
The Ameritas team planned the implementation of Quadient Inspire in two phases. The first phase took on migrating the company’s highest volume documents—ID cards—into the new solution. Phase two included all the policies, certificates and all other correspondence.
“With ID card generation, we saw a vast and immediate improvement in the volume we were able to complete in a short period of time,” Mastel reports. “With our previous solution, producing a batch of 2,000 front-back sheet ID cards would take at least two hours to complete. With Quadient, it takes 15 minutes or less. That delivers more than 10 times the improvement in the volume we can complete. It is hugely impressive.”
Phase two yielded a similar increase in volume. What used to take hours or even days for policy and certificate generation using the previous system were now completed in a time frame permitting up to 10 times the volume than was possible previously.
Ameritas’ Mastel illustrates how Quadient Inspire has improved processing through a request received prior to implementation.
“We had not yet migrated our certificates and policies when a request came through ordering about 5,000 certificates with a short turnaround time,” he relates. “It took us an entire week to handle it in the old system, with an FTE from our IT area babysitting the server and someone else feeding the volume through the system just to get those 5,000 certificates produced.”
A similar request arrived recently—an order for about 5,000 certificates late in the day. This time, using Quadient Inspire, the job took less than two hours. “This project was finished and ready for print by 9:00 p.m. that same day—with no human intervention,” Mastel says. “We are extremely pleased with the throughput we now get, the volume we can quickly produce and—most important—our ability to deliver documents within or ahead of our SLAs, as well as being able to meet emergency requests with ease.”
Ameritas is enjoying not only the vastly improved efficiency but also the range of new capabilities provided by Quadient Inspire. “For example, we want to move some of our individual business correspondence that is available only in print to email,” Mastel elaborates. “Quadient Inspire allows us to do that. We’re looking at expanding our real-time generation of documents, taking our certificates and policies that today are static PDFs and moving them into a real-time situation that will eliminate storing that large number of documents.”
High-Volume Demand Periods Become Non-Events
The Ameritas group division has also experienced efficiencies in other areas, such as staffing. With the old system, members of the IT team often had to manually intervene during the first quarter of each new year, when the volume of documents issued was especially high.
“Since we implemented Quadient Inspire, we’ve gotten our holidays back, so to speak,” comments Laura Stunkel, IT manager for Ameritas’ group administration systems. “Quadient’s robust capabilities freed up so much of our time that now when the volume of ID cards requests comes in at the first of the year, it is really a non-event. The software produces everything so fast, we rarely intervene on anything.”
The increase in production Ameritas has achieved with Quadient Inspire makes it possible to assign skilled associates to other projects and accomplish more work, Stunkel says.
“We’ve always had the philosophy in the group division at Ameritas that our customers should be able to elect their mode of communication with us,” Stunkel adds. “Quadient Inspire now gives us the flexibility to be able to deliver those documents to our customers the way that they want to see them and makes it possible to handle our customers’ requests as they evolve going forward.”