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Quote of the Week

"I like to tell people that all of our products and business will go through three phases. There's vision, patience, and execution."

─Steve Ballmer

Ongoing Efforts to Better Service Clients

January 5, 2012

Many insurance agencies are making efforts to enhance the services they provide clients on a yearly basis.  In a competitive market like insurance, client retention is important.  A study conducted by Forrester in November 2010 indicated that improving customer service strengthens customer loyalty in their willingness to consider another purchase, their likelihood to move business to a competitor, and likelihood to make a recommendation to a friend or colleague.

This study was featured in the Independent Agent’s December 2011 issue in an article that discusses the importance of tailoring your approach to customer service.  In fact, PaperWise customer Johnson Insurance of Racine, WI was featured in the piece.  It’s always exciting to see how our customer partners are experiencing success and their efforts to make their business the best it can be.

See how Johnson Insurance and other agencies across the country are taking their service to the next level in the full Independent Agent article … Help Me Help You.

Forms that are Smart

December 13, 2011

I love keeping things electronic.  From paying my bills to making my grocery list, the more I can do without paper the better (and the more likely I am to find it!).

In my perfect world, I would also make all forms electronic.  I love the convenience of opening a form on my computer, typing all my answers, and submitting it back to the intended recipient.  For me, it’s so much easier than trying my best to make my handwriting legible, and then having to scan and email, fax, or mail the form to submit it. There are simply fewer steps and I like that.

I even like the name used to describe these forms.  A “SmartForm.”  How clever – a form that does some thinking for you.  SmartForms often include fillable text boxes, drop-down menus, and checkboxes.  They can also be pre-populated with data from your database and can even change information in a drop-down depending on the information put into the form.  When a form is submitted, it can be electronically routed through a workflow process based on the information completed in the form as well as inserted into a database or management system.  Isn’t that smart?

There are different ways to create a SmartForm.  One of the most common ways, and one I have found to be very user-friendly, is Adobe Acrobat.  When you combine Adobe Acrobat X and Adobe LiveCycle Designer, pretty much anyone can create a standard form.  Their Form Wizard makes it easy to add fillable fields, drop-down menus, and check-boxes.  If you’re more tech-savvy, you can use Java Script to apply business rules and automation to the form.  Here are some other possibilities of a SmartForm:

  • Fillable textboxes, drop-down menus, checkboxes, etc.
  • Pre-population of data before the form is displayed.
  • Computations within the form.
  • Built-in alerts to ensure accurate data.
  • Digital signatures.
  • Automatic routing to specific groups or individuals.
  • Built-in workflows based on form data.
  • Secure Storage as searchable PDFs.
  • Simple exporting of data for analysis and reporting.

If SmartForms were implemented in medical clinics, HR departments, and educational institutions, I think I’d be pretty close to my perfect world.  How would they impact your world?

Vanessa Benkert, Electronic Form Lover

How does technology influence customer service?

December 7, 2011

Remember when you had to go to the bank to check the balance on your account or transfer money?  Or how about go to the library to answer a simple question?  Or even write checks and mail them to pay your bills?  The move towards self-help and instant access to information has transformed our society. If you’re like me, you do as much online as you can.  It’s just easier that way.  I want to get the information I need when I need it.  But how does that impact customer service?

Sometimes it can be hard to know what the balance is between enabling your customers to help themselves and ensuring that you keep that personal connection with your clients.  Yet the success of self-service bank portals, online bill pay, and even Amazon.com seems to point to the fact that people want the freedom to serve themselves. We’re all busy – so the ability to get the information you need when you need it is critical.

This move towards self-help not only prevents the client from impatiently waiting for an answer, it can also save the organization money.  Think of the most common questions you receive on a daily basis.  How much time would it save you if your customers could access that information whenever they needed it?  How much frustration would it save your customers?

However, it’s important to keep in mind that self-help versus face-to-face service isn’t mutually exclusive – it’s a balance.  Even though I generally prefer to help myself, sometimes I just want a live person.  Whether you need the comfort and reassurance that you’re doing it right, or you need to talk through an issue, nothing can fully replace personal interaction.

This article provides an interesting take on how Web Portals are impacting customer service in the world of Insurance.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2011/09/16/self-service-web-portals-for-clients-give-indie-ag

- David Rust, Convenience Addict

Adventures in Solution Deployment and Training

August 25, 2011

A recent trip to El Paso, TX provided our implementation team – Jason Barnes, Mary Malin, and Erik Gabbard – with a fresh take on PaperWise deployment!  Using the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, better known as Origami, the team at JDW Insurance created a system for asking questions and getting help from our onsite trainers.  It’s always exciting to see our customers get excited about deploying new solutions and all the ways they find to make the deployment experience enjoyable for everyone!

I know our team had a blast during this install … and we are all excited to see what ideas other customer partners, present and future, dream up!!

What fun and creative methods have you used to implement solutions and train your team? We want to share YOUR STORY … tell us about it at PublicRelations@paperwise.com.

The JDW Paper Monster had mixed feelings about us visiting. He wondered, "Does having a PaperWise solution mean there will be more paper for me to eat or does this mean a diet is in my future?!"

So he greeted our team with a sign that said "I am the JDW Paper Monster. JDW wants to be paperless, but I want more paper. FEED ME!!!"

And while each member of team JDW flew their custom origami piece and discovered ways to overcome and defeat the Paper Monster, our trainers were given paper-OWLS as thanks for a paper-WISE solution.

Collaboration Focused Philosophy Drives Development

December 16, 2010

PaperWise utilizes social technologies to provide a more collaborative experience for users.  New applications are geared to offer a user friendly way of communicating easier while maintaining security of information.

There’s no denying it; social technology has become a staple in today’s business culture.  Over the last several years, PaperWise has been working towards building a series of products that will change the face of document management.  The focus of these products is to enhance collaboration, granting the ability to share information and communicate easier.

As development continues and we get closer to the release of Version 7, social technologies are being incorporated to make communication with clients, other companies, associates, and any other publics important to your business simple, convenient, and secure.  Several developments have emerged from this collaboration focused philosophy, many of which impact the insurance industry.

PaperWise Connect

You can now experience the more social side of PaperWise with our latest customer service technology, PaperWise Connect for Insurance, a customer web portal application.  This tool offers a platform of communication and access for your clients, the carriers you work with, and your associates.  The user friendly application provides secure access to information associated with accounts or policies.  Fully customizable, our engineers can tailor the Portal to offer versatile functionality with access to a variety of features such as: report generation, customer information via agency management system, documents in PaperWise Query, automated workflows, forms access, and more.  PaperWise Connect allows you to work with clients and carriers to manage policies and accounts with an improved means of communication that enhances collaboration and service.

Submission Management Console

When building new solutions, we aim to structure applications according to the processes and hurdles your associates encounter.  Our Submissions to Carriers solution, via our Submission Management Console, is of no exception.  This application makes sharing documents outside your company simple and fast, which opens the door for collaboration when marketing to carriers and connects you to your customers.  Securely package, email, and track the status of documents sent, and expedite the submissions to carriers process.  Working with carriers to serve your clients has never been so easy.

PaperWise Authorize

Automated solutions undoubtedly accelerate processes; however, solutions that encourage fast processing, yet promote connectivity within your company, can greatly impact operations.  One application in particular supports this type of workflow enhancement.  Our accounts payable solution, PaperWise Authorize, is an application that allows you to manage invoices through PaperWise Query.  Since everything is already managed electronically, associates can work on the document as needed and route it to the appropriate location once it’s complete.  With this tool, your team can work together to improve processing and workflows can take place within minutes rather than days.  In addition, tracking and reporting are possible since invoices are distributed within PaperWise.  A collaborative team effort is possible as you easily share information and move documents along through your processes.

Our team is excited to offer customer partners the ability to access and share with the latest features and applications available.  As we progress with development on Version 7, this philosophy is already being applied.  Users can expect to gain access to best practices contributed both from other users within your organization and also users from other institutions.  Even more functionality can be expected in the same convenient and secure style we have been moving towards.   

Going Beyond Business Objectives to Make a Difference

November 19, 2010

Two of the things that make being a part of the PaperWise family such a wonderful experience, is this team’s desire to encourage one another and make a difference in their community.  It brings pride to the company when we can look around and see the drive and determination of our colleagues.  This is exactly what recently happened at PaperWise.  What follows is that story…

Springfield, Missouri, November 17, 2010 – In an effort to encourage an associate for a 100-mile trail race, the employees of software and technology provider PaperWise, Inc. worked together to raise $2,085 for a local food bank and charity organization, Ozarks Food Harvest (OFH). 

PaperWise, Inc. presented a check to Ozarks Food Harvest on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, after raising the money to support Business Analyst Larry Vernon in a remarkable goal.  An avid runner, Vernon had been training for the Ozark Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run for several months. 

“I was mulling over ideas of a good goal that would surpass anything I’d ever accomplished, and as I began to seriously consider the 100-mile run, the owner of PaperWise Dan Langhofer challenged me to do it,” said Vernon.  “Since I felt it was beyond what I was capable of doing, it seemed worthy of trying to do.”

As word spread throughout PaperWise of Vernon’s goal to run 100 miles, colleagues began to contemplate how they might help push Vernon to cross the finish line on race day. 

“Larry and I discussed ways of making the race bigger than a 100-mile feat,” explained PaperWise Product Manager Dr. Chris Taylor.  “I suggested collecting pledges for each mile completed that would be donated to a food bank local to Springfield – Ozarks Food Harvest.  He liked the idea so I ran with it, starting with a dollar per mile pledge from myself.  An email went out to the team to see if anyone else was interested in making a contribution.  The response was overwhelming; within 15 minutes I had received two more dollar pledges.  The rest is PaperWise history.”

The Ozark Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run was a point-to-point 100-mile ultramarathon on the Ozark Trail through the Mark Twain National Forest in south central Missouri.  By the day of the race, Saturday, November 6, 2010, PaperWise had raised over $1300.  With great effort and careful footwork through the cold and, at times, dark forest of Missouri, Vernon completed all 100 miles, finishing in 27:04:04 hours.  Amongst nearly 80 participants, he placed 9th of the 37 that actually finished.

When Vernon returned to the office, donations continued to roll in.  In total the company raised over $2,000 for OFH.  The OFH Food Bank is the only one of its kind in southwest Missouri, serving more than 300 nonprofit hunger relief organizations across 28 Ozarks counties.  With every dollar donation to The Food Bank, OFH is able to provide 7 meals to those who need it most.

“I feel that God has given all of us gifts, and as a Christian, exercising those gifts and serving others is really what life is about,” shared Vernon.  “The fact that other people can benefit from my gift and love of running makes the whole experience even more meaningful.”

We are so proud of Larry for completing a challenge that few would dare even attempt and the team here at PaperWise for helping make a difference! 

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Document Assembly Processes

August 3, 2010

Introduction

At PaperWise, we use our document management software internally to store documents.  PaperWise supports nearly everything we do, from accounting all the way through to software development.  A process that you’re likely familiar with now, if you’re a PaperWise customer, is our solution building process.

When we build solutions at PaperWise, we start off with a business analysis where information is collected regarding your problems, environment, and requirements.  Next, we create a plan to solve those problems, much like you get when you’re building a house.  One thing we struggle with when building our analysis documents is in knowing when documents have changed.

Query, the PaperWise search application, caches files locally as you view them.  What this means is that Query copies documents from your PaperWise system to your local system, and stores them there for a period of time, to improve performance when you’re switching back and forth between documents.  Caching works great when you’re not passing documents back and forth between people working on document assembly.  When you are performing document assembly, the cache just gets in the way.

Scenario

During document assembly, we pass documents back and forth between analysts and architects.  After the analysts and architects have completed their work, the documents are submitted through several audit steps involving managers and ultimately our Chief Technology Officer and Chief Operating Officer.  Because these documents are cached locally by Query, we must be very careful to refresh them from the database in order to make sure we always have the most recent versions.  As you can imagine, sometimes it is easy to forget to make sure you’re working with the most recent revisions of the documents.

Solution

There are two solutions to this conundrum.  The first and real solution is for PaperWise to warn you when it detects that you don’t have the most recent revisions of documents in your cache.  Version 7, our next major re-architecture and new version, will address this issue.  In the meantime, we have written a small utility to manage your local cache of documents and to significantly reduce the likelihood that you won’t be reviewing the most recent revisions of your documents.

If you’re using a similar process, where multiple people are responsible for assembling, editing, and auditing documents, then contact your PaperWise customer care representative or our Technical Support department and request a copy of the utility!

-Markus Pope, MCSD

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