Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
Staff Writer | July 20, 2020
Todd Greenbaum is President and CEO of Input 1, a provider of digital billing and payment solutions expanding core/legacy systems to improve customer engagements, market agility, and operating efficiency. He is a UCLA graduate with a degree in Business and Economics. Todd joined Input 1 in 1984 shortly after its inception and is credited with designing the original receivable tracking system that is the backbone of Input 1's portfolio servicing capabilities. In January 1990, Todd became President of Input 1, and one year later, took on the additional post as Chief Executive Officer. Under Todd's leadership, Input 1 has grown from a small firm, servicing $10 million in annual insurance premiums, to one that services over half a billion dollars in annual property and casualty premiums. Todd is a recognized thought leader in the digital billing and payments segment of the insurance industry. He is passionately dedicated to the ongoing refinement and expansion of Input 1's service and insurtech offerings, enhancement of the agency and insured experience, and the continued growth of Input 1.
The insurance industry has historically been methodical in adopting digital transformations. How can insurtech drive new behavior and provide meaningful solutions?
Clearly, there is a digital revolution going on in the insurance industry. I have always felt that this began with how the banking industry handled change. Banks are so far down the digital transformation highway, and they continue to run faster in that direction. Insurance companies (and agencies) are realizing that they probably need to move more quickly because their competitors, and the gig-economy, are going that way. So, I think we are seeing a natural progression towards a stronger embrace of this transformative movement. I believe that the industry, financial markets, and competition drive new behavior. Insurtech is the way in which companies solve for the needed new behavior. Technology is a platform upon which new behavior is created. So insurtech is the enabling element to better performance, better service levels, greater access to and visibility of data, greater efficiencies, and lower cost.
The pandemic and stay-at-home orders have made it challenging for many insurance companies to maintain operational efficiency. Some are looking at new business models that outsource segments of their operations to better navigate future business disruptions. How has Input 1’s digital billing services and payment solutions allowed its clients to maintain business continuity and improve their efficiency?
Input 1’s digital billing services and payment solutions were founded on the notion that insurance companies deliver the highest value to their stakeholders (employees, policyholders, agents, and equityholders) by dedicating their time to creating and selling great insurance products. Certain operational and technological components can be provided by service firms that have unique focus and expertise in those disciplines. Input 1’s digital billing services and payments solutions are one example of this. As a savvy and disciplined tech-enabled service firm, we have built robust systems that support a broad set of services, which allowed us to go from 100% in the office to an almost entirely work-from-home environment within four days. Our clients felt virtually no disruption in their businesses. That’s about as strong a testament that I can give regarding how we help our clients maintain business continuity. A big part of why our clients are our clients is because they gained efficiencies when they started working with us. Those efficiencies stay in place whether we are working under normal or abnormal conditions.
You once wrote an article about how “Insurtech doesn’t have to be disruptive to be great.” Can you summarize your thoughts about insurance technology innovations that provide fundamental benefits to insurance companies?
Technology doesn’t have to be like science fiction to be great. Artificial intelligence can be very helpful in serving customers. IoT can make a home or parts of a business more efficient. Drones can be incredibly helpful in the servicing of claims. But there are a great number of unglamorous operational functions that can be automated or made more efficient and which can deliver direct and rapid impact to a company’s bottom line. So when I speak about what I call “fundamental Insurtech” I am talking about things like the digitization and automation of payments, the digitization of document delivery, thoughtful and intuitive self-service features, etc. – all of which result in fewer manual steps, fewer errors, better service, better resource allocation, and lower cost.
With social distancing, greater adoption of technology, and a push towards a low-touch economy, how can insurance companies continue to provide the level of service customers have grown to expect?
The work-from-home environment has been rapidly adopted out of necessity. Those insurance companies and MGAs that run their businesses on cloud-based solutions and have actionable business continuity plans made the transition with minor disruptions. I think the area where technology is most valuable is for those companies that didn’t have those platforms in place or didn’t have the resources to create and update a current and actionable Business Continuity Plan (BCP). As I have mentioned previously, digitization of payment plans, digitization of notice delivery, digital reminder messages, and self-service features are all things that improve the customer experience as well as fortify business continuity. Technology in the telephony arena has been instrumental in this process. It allows live customer service departments to work in a segregated manner, primarily from home, while still serving the needs of the customer. Bottom line is that all this wonderful technology allows for the provision of services, at the same or higher levels than before, without requiring a team in the office conducting the business.
You are an advocate of enhancing the agency experience (AX) as much as the customer experience (CX). Why do you think enhancing insurance agency relationships matters so much?
For those insurance companies that distribute their products through retail agencies, it’s important to remember that agents are customers, too. If an insurance company doesn’t think of an agent as a customer, I think they leave out a significant opportunity to improve relationships and, ultimately, their business and its ability to grow. Agents find policyholders. Agents help the policyholder navigate the complex and sometimes frustrating business of insurance. If an agent is equipped with the right tools, they can enhance the service level to the policyholder - whether that is by helping policyholders keep their policy in force by making a payment, setting up a reminder for future payments, setting up an autopay feature, producing a copy of the last invoice or providing their payment history. An agent portal with reporting and analytics can help agents by listing clients that are coming up for renewal, those whose payment is due next week or even what the overall cancellation performance has looked like. With the right information, agents can help the insurance company improve the quality and stickiness of the business or maybe focus on coverages or premium sizes that they haven’t sold a lot of in the past. The opportunities made available with a great agent experience are extremely valuable.
In light of the challenges we are experiencing today, what do you think the insurance industry will look like in 2021 and beyond?
All industries are shaped, in no small part, by history. What will happen in 2021 and beyond for insurance will be the result not just of what is happening in 2020 but what has happened over the last 200 years in insurance. As for current events, a more pervasive deployment of technology will help improve customer and agent experiences, improve efficiencies, ensure business continuity, and reduce expenses. As technology becomes even more intelligent underwriting will improve and this will lead to more efficient pricing and capital deployment. Fraud will be reduced because there will be more enhanced detection capabilities. Many great changes will continue to evolve for all stakeholders in the insurance transaction.
What direction would you like to take Input 1 in the next few years?
Being part of Input 1 and watching and guiding its growth is not only exhilarating, it is also a privilege. As pioneers in many of the digital advances that are becoming more broadly adopted, we are gratified that the insurance industry is stepping up and becoming more technologically proficient. We intend to continue refining fundamental insurtech and making it easier to implement and less expensive so that more companies can achieve operating efficiencies and cost reductions. Moreover, we will continue inventing new and exciting ways for customers and agents to play a role in the transaction. We will do this by expanding the functionality of our digital portals, which will give greater access to the insurance transaction and allow all stakeholders to play a role in how services are delivered. We will continue to help insurance companies gain more visibility into the results of their business by making analytics easier to achieve and understand. The more open and less complicated the insurance transaction becomes, the greater the participation and the higher the value.
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