After reading Walter Isaacson’s great book about Steve Jobs, I began to imagine what would Steve Jobs do if you were running an insurance agency. The first obstacle I thought about was that Steve Jobs could not do it because he would have to deal with the products he could not control from insurance companies. Let’s just ignore that issue and his bad traits for the rest of this article.
Steve Jobs’ primary focus was to create great products. All else was secondary. The product of insurance agency is the service it provides to clients. The direction he would take would be to provide a seamless integrated experience for the client. People have too many things to worry about and not enough time to be able to focus on their insurance needs and problem.
Remember the time before the iPod? What was it like to go buy a stereo system? There were dozens of preamps to select, CD players to review, cassette decks to analyze, turntables to choose, and speakers to complete the package. Who had time to figure out what was the best way to go?
The SJ Agency would create a system with few options and allows the prospect to quickly discover their insurance needs. The key step here is to develop the technique of collecting information from the prospect and analyzing their insurance needs. There are tons of questionnaires that do a good job in discovering potential risk areas. Steve Jobs would develop a way to collect information quickly and painlessly.
Once the needs were analyzed, the client would be offered a prepackaged plan with few options. The part of the plan that Jobs would emphasize is not the insurance policies, but the services that the agency is providing the customer to make their life easier. The agency would create e-mails and letters that would go out automatically over the course of the year reminding them of the need to provide updated information and to reinforce the idea that the agency is there to support them.
One belief that Steve Jobs held was that it was important to create a product that the client did not yet know that they needed. SJ insurance agency would be equally innovative. The agency would have periodic meetings with the employees and some key outside advisers to analyze what the agency is doing now and 10 new ideas to focus on in the future. He would let the employees work on ideas to improve the product.
Another key belief Steve Jobs had was to obsess about the details. He wanted everything to be perfect including the parts that the customer could not see. That might mean that Steve Jobs spend a lot of time developing streamlined procedures for the business. His agency would be very consistent in the product/service that they provide their customers.
The various departments in the SJ Agency would work together as a single team. Changes would only occur after getting feedback from everyone. Collaboration and integration are to be expected from the employees. This is important at several levels. It allows employees to have some control over what goes on. It also creates a sense of responsibility and accountability since they were part of the decision-making process.
Steve Jobs would also employ his “reality distortion field.” He would push and challenge his employees to do their best, and more. This approach will work however, only if the agency has all “A” players. He would hire only the best. The employees would need to be passionate about providing excellent service for the client. These type of people are hard to find and usually demand higher compensation. The good news is that they are self-sufficient, they can manage themselves, and their productivity would be off the charts. The time and money required to find and hire these people will be worth it in the long.
Steve Jobs was that once-in-a-lifetime personality that was able to change the world. He had the perfect blend of vision, drive, and persuasion to create new things and build very successful businesses. One of his traits that help them succeed was to be able to spot a good idea and remold it into his unique version. Xerox Parc was the first to create a graphical user interface and a mouse. That great idea would have died on the vine except for Steve’s use of it in the Apple II.
Likewise, business owners should take great ideas from Steve Jobs and other successful people and make it their own.