Telamon Global Services helps agencies streamline their processes
By Nancy Doucette
There's a war on keystrokes in the insurance industry and duplicate entry is the enemy. Agency management system vendors, carriers, the Agents Council for Technology (ACT), IVANS, and ACORD have been fighting the good fight for decades to bring efficiencies to agencies through download and real-time transactions.
New allies are joining the fight. Through their outsourcing capabilities, they're able to take on specific back-office transactions that don't require deep insurance knowledge, thus relieving knowledgeable workers in agencies to sell and service accounts.
One such ally is Telamon Global Services (TGS), headquartered in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Indiana. "We're a business solution provider," explains Joe Zhao, president of Telamon Global Services. "We take care of a business's headaches—those tasks that don't really add to the bottom line, and in the process, we help the business reduce its costs."
Mavum Risk Management LLC (MRM) was looking for just such a partner several years ago. Indianapolis-based MRM is the property/casualty operation of Mavum which also has an employee benefits operation: Mavum Consulting LLC. MRM came into being in 2006 as a result of Mavum Consulting's employee benefits clients asking for help with their business insurance. The two sides are separate entities.
According to Bev Barney, CIC, CPCU, director of sales and operations for MRM, there is no shortage of things to do for the agency's strategically staffed production and support team. "We're cross-selling and picking up some additional accounts as well," she says. About 50% of the agency's revenue comes from small business insurance with the remainder coming from personal lines.
With the increasing volume of accounts, the need for processing help also grew. "A lot of the work was ACORD form-related," Bev notes. "We needed someone to do the behind-the-scenes processing of certificates and new business applications."
But the flow of processing tasks was irregular so MRM didn't need a full-time person. "One week we might receive more applications to enter than could be handled internally; the next week, there might be a lesser number," Bev explains. A remote staffing option seemed like the best solution and TGS proved to be a good fit.
"Data entry is one of their specialties," she says. "And the cost per unit to get our work done by Telamon is less than if we tried to hire a part-time person and then train the individual."
Bev explains that TGS is handling the data entry for the ACORD forms that are going into the agency's management system—data that isn't being downloaded from a carrier. "Telamon handles new business applications and renewal updates. They can work off a handwritten ACORD or they work off our internal information sheet," she says.
She says MRM scans the documents and then FTPs them to her account executive at Telamon who places them in an electronic folder for one of the offshore workers to process. "Anything we get to Telamon before 5 p.m. we get back the next morning, 9 a.m. at the latest," Bev says.
Joe Zhao explains that TGS uses a digital document management system to capture and index documents from its customers. "That establishes a starting point," he says. Once the offshore worker has completed the task, it is returned to the electronic file folder at Telamon's headquarters for Mavum to pick up. "The offshore workers aren't given access to the Mavum system," he points out.
Joe is proud of the level of security that Telamon offers all its clients. "We do medical billing transactions for some clients," he explains. "As a result, we have to comply with HIPAA laws. All our employees, including the offshore employees, have taken HIPAA training and have all signed privacy agreements."
Additionally he says Telamon's data security protocols prohibit purses or cell phones from being brought into the office. Printers are isolated and workers are required to show a supervisor what they've printed before they can have it. None of the remote workers have a password to log into a client's system.
As for certificates, Bev says, "Once we have a master certificate built for an account, Telamon is terrific at inputting descriptions and certificate holders." Of course if a client needs a certificate immediately, MRM processes the certificate themselves.
Bev says she also uses TGS for special projects. This past summer, for instance, the agency switched management systems and there was some data cleanup work that needed to be done. "I needed to have 582 personal lines accounts reviewed to be sure each one had the correct naming convention," she explains.
"Telamon reviewed the accounts and made the changes to the ones that needed to be corrected. It took the offshore workers a couple of days. It would have taken us a week or more, given the other work we have to do.
"If I have a choice, I don't want our CSRs doing these sorts of projects. It's not making good use of their insurance knowledge and skills," Bev states.
She says any questions that the remote workers have are highlighted on an exception log. For the naming project, Bev says there were only five accounts out of the 582 that appeared on the exception log. "When I checked the rest," she reports, "they were all fine."
Switching management system vendors generally means that data isn't going to convert exactly as an agency needs it to so that reports come out accurately. Bev says she's still tweaking and is using Telamon for those projects where it doesn't require insurance knowledge to interpret data. "It's like having an instant assistant," she says.
Telamon has more than 100 employees working in its three locations in China. (See the sidebar at left for more about Telamon's operation.) Most of them are four-year college graduates who are proficient in English, Joe points out.
As for his own background, Joe says his skill is software development. "As a software developer, I've always had a keen interest in developing custom applications for businesses," he offers. So while one side of Telamon's business is transaction processing, such as what they're doing for Mavum Risk Management, the other side of the business is application development.
One of TGS's recent projects was to create a producer portal for another Indianapolis-area agency. Its management wanted to automate the sales management process so their initial research focused on off-the-shelf CRM programs. "Such programs claim to do everything," Joe points out, "but then you're stuck with—and paid for—whatever portion of the program you can't use.
"But if you go for a custom application, and you work with the right partner, you will get exactly what you need. There aren't many software developers that focus on small to mid-sized companies and take the time to get you know your industry like Telamon does," he adds. "All we have to do is learn about an agency's operation and we can develop the program they need."
He says they began the project with the agency by observing their unique processes and then following up with interviews of key people. "We have deep knowledge of CRM—there's sales automation, contact management, project management, scheduling, lead tracking, and campaign management. We understand all those components. What we needed to learn was what processes the agency had in place to manage its sales force," he recalls.
The agency has been using its producer portal created by Telamon for over two years. "This is the kind of application that forces the agency and its producers to have a disciplined process," Joe observes. "When the producer sits down with the sales manager to create goals for a particular period, those goals are then plugged into the producer portal and they're tracked from there. The Producer Briefcase/Dashboard gives the producer an overview of all his or her production efforts relative to their goals."
In addition to this custom CRM application, Telamon offers a fee-based lead research process. Suppose a producer is driving to an appointment when he notices a company that he wants to know more about as a potential prospect. If the producer provides TGS with the address of the company, Telamon can gather intelligence overnight on the producer's behalf. "We can find out who's on the management team, the size of the company, the current P-C agent, the current employee benefits broker, the x-dates, and the carrier names," Joe says.
Couldn't the producer do this reconnoitering? Certainly. But in the war on keystrokes, delegating this to an organization like TGS frees up the producer to spend more time with clients and prospects.
"We don't sell the producer portal as an off-the-shelf application," Joe continues. "We learn each agency's culture and how they would like to use the system. Then we customize it to suit the individual agency. Our job is to analyze your business process and deliver a system to maximize your business value."
Above a view of the Producer Portal Dashboard which offers an overview of a producer's production efforts relative to his or her goals. The sales manager can also use the Dashboard to view sales activity by individual producer.
An example of the Producer Portal Calendar that instantly synchronizes with Outlook. Entries into either product are automatically reflected in the other.
A BIT ABOUT TELAMON
Telamon Corporation describes itself as a servant company and reinforces that through its name which is the Greek word for "support." Founded in 1985 by Taiwan native Albert Chen, Telamon started out as an outsourcer for the telecommunications industry. With more than 500 employees across nine locations (six in the United States and three in China), Telamon is the largest minority-owned business in Indiana.
In 2003, Telamon Global Services (TGS) was formed to transfer Telamon's own back-office transactions to its Beijing office. Given the success of that endeavor, TGS began offering those services to businesses in a variety of industries in 2007. "We don't manufacture anything," explains Joe Zhao, president of TGS. "We're strictly a services company."
Joe says Telamon Corporation's mission statement is simple: "Increase your revenue, reduce your costs, get rid of your headaches." He adds that Telamon fulfills this commitment through the concept it calls H2S2: "Honesty with our customers promotes Harmony in our relationships. Simplicity in an age of complexity leads to Speed in our solutions."
For more information:
Telamon Global Services
Web site: www.telamon.com