Growth hacking is a bit of a loaded term in the startup world. Social networks and traditional consumer platforms use exclusive invite systems to build cache or made up points and addicting algorithms in an attempt to fuel explosive user growth. But here at Pathpoint, as a wholesale insurance brokerage and E&S solution for specialized professionals, growth and engagement looks a little different.
The Agent Growth and Engagement (or AGE) Team is composed of five full stack software engineers, a product manager, a designer, and myself, the engineering manager. Together, our goal is to not only increase the number of agents using Pathpoint and those agents’ engagement with the platform, namely in the forms of submissions and ultimately binds while continuing to offer the highest level of hospitality and customer service.
For the Carrier Activation team, this means continuously working to expand our selection of coverages and carriers so that agents can more reliably receive multiple fast and competitive quotes, regardless of class codes or line of business.
But for the AGE team, this means that we want to make binding E&S insurance delightful. It may sound silly –– even antithetical: Procuring E&S insurance? Delightful? But it's actually the distance between those two ideas today–– E&S insurance and user delight –– that demonstrates how necessary and valuable our work is.
So how do we approach these objectives? Growth and engagement? Results and delight? On any given day, almost all of our efforts ultimately falls into one or more of the following five categories:
Our product manager, Swati, and designer, Tiffany, are always speaking with agents to hear directly about those users’ needs and experiences. What kinds of class codes are you seeing most these days?
Meanwhile, everyone on our team regularly meets to go over user sessions, looking for sources of friction or frustration. Are agents getting hung up on a particularly hairy underwriting question?
Lastly, our team is frequently reviewing metrics and charts to track whether our efforts are indeed leading to increased agent engagement with the platform. How many agents have created a new submission in the last month? What percent of our users have bound a quote?
Any agent will tell you that procuring an insurance policy from a wholesaler is rarely quick, simple or transparent –– and certainly never all three. We want to change that.
Currently, the AGE team is building a feature which will allow agents to clearly track the status of a submission and stay on top of outstanding action items as the submission moves from draft to quote to bind across multiple markets. No more pestering unresponsive underwriters about that two week old submission or digging through old emails to see which subjectivities still need to be addressed.
But user delight doesn’t just come from flashy, high tech solutions like our Accord and SOV data extraction and augmentation tools. The AGE team is always on the hunt for small improvements on the margins, for ways to let our agents complete their next submission just five seconds faster or to answer one more question accurately. One recent release makes it easier for agents to track down and complete required fields that they may have missed during the submission process.
Although we’re always looking for opportunities to improve the submission process through technology, sometimes that means building internal software solutions which enable Pathpoint’s knowledgeable and responsive marketing and underwriting teams to deliver the quick, real human support which is so often needed to get that quirky submission bound.
For example, just last week we built a dashboard which allows our marketing and underwriting teams to quickly track down incomplete drafts that may need a bit more support before they’re ready for submission and quoted submissions that are ready to be bound. In addition, we want to continue to find ways to emphasize the humans behind our technology so that agents can easily receive personalized support at any point in the submission process.
The AGE team uses a number of tools for quality control. In particular, we have created a suite of automated tests that uses bots to navigate our application and exercise our core workflows before any new code can be released.
Still, wholesale insurance is complicated and software is complicated. And the reality is: bugs happen. That’s why the AGE team strives to diligently monitor our site for errors and then promptly address them when they do arise. It’s not possible to prevent every bug but it is possible to provide exceptional and hospitable support by communicating clearly and resolving issues promptly.
Finally, the AGE team is always looking to make calculated investments in the long term technical health of the company while also continuously releasing features which directly improve our agents’ experience on a day to day basis. This is always a balancing act!
Major architectural improvements can be technical: like a new data access pattern which will allow engineers across the company to build faster and more performant features –– but they can also come in the form of non-technical solutions: like a new user interface design system so that our product managers, designers, and engineers can rapidly build and iterate on stylish and user-friendly tools.
Each of these five areas of work offer our team useful ways to approach the challenge of creating a delightful digital brokerage experience while also staying focused on our larger goal to increase the number of policies bound through Pathpoint. So many startups and software companies have failed because they lost sight of their business objectives or got wrapped up in building perfect software. That’s why we like to emphasize that we're not just an engineering team; we’re the Agent Growth and Engagement team; we’re problem solvers.
Indeed, if one of our engineers could successfully make the case that Pathpoint was one catchy jingle away from explosive growth and engagement, we’d have the studio booked by the end of the day –– though we probably wouldn’t put our engineers singing in the recording booth.