We pride ourselves on building long-term relationships with our clients. In the web development agency world, there are thousands of teams that specialize in one-off projects. But when we develop long-term relationships, we’re better able to make meaningful contributions to the company’s bottom line.
On a quick-turn project, there isn’t much time to understand a company’s business model, pain points, or processes they work through every day. During long-term partnerships, we take the time to learn more about these parts of their business. Our development and design choices are forward-thinking, and we're able to make strategic decisions for the application and its role in the business.
That's a big reason why when we talk with potential clients, length of the partnership is a major factor in our decision-making.
We look for projects where one, three, or five years down the road we can still picture maintaining and improving the application. We have several clients who have worked with us for years, and over time we’ve adjusted the scope of our partnership to fit their business goals. Our partnerships range from a few weeks old to nine years of working with us, and our current average relationship length is over two and a half years.
One of these clients who we have worked with for a few years is Pac Global, an international insurance brokerage covering household moves abroad.
Our partnership with Pac Global started back in 2014 when they contacted us about working on an existing application. They had a backlog of improvements and were needing development help to get the job done. Over the years, we’ve worked with Pac Global to build and improve features and repair shortcomings on this app.
But just because we were initially contacted as a support and maintenance team doesn’t mean we aren’t constantly looking for improvements and suggestions we can offer up along the way.
We’re always on the lookout for points of potential improvement in their internal and customer-facing applications that can help their bottom line. We have conversations about the processes that aren’t time or cost-effective and provide suggestions when possible.
One of these conversations turned into a large-scale, six-month project build out that took an existing manual and cumbersome internal process and turned it into a transparent workflow with a modern design.
Here’s an overview of our redesign and rebuild process for Pac Global’s insurance claim system.
The Existing Challenge
In early 2017, Pac Global contacted us regarding an urgent request. They had an upcoming meeting with a client and needed to show improvement on their Claims Submittal process. At that point, this claims process was largely handled offline.
There was a web form that a claimant would fill in with all their information, shown below.
The form was then emailed to the Pac Global team. From there, someone would be assigned to confirm all the information was valid, follow up with connected parties to make sure all documentation was received, send requests for follow up documentation and estimates, then construct a settlement offer to email back.
The process continued offline between Pac Global and the claimant until all parties accepted the terms and settlement offer. It was time-consuming, difficult to track, and lacked transparency for all the involved parties. There was a lot of potential for improvement.
Initially, the needs expressed by Pac Global on the request sounded like a quick fix to their form. But after talking through the goals and challenges they faced, it quickly became clear this would need to be a project outside of their regular support and maintenance.
Jumping into project mode, we began to define the scope of the challenge. We crafted a workflow diagram to help us clarify needs and interactions. Using that information, we began to roadmap the project to confirm scope of the project. This roadmap would also be used to detail out user stories to confirm requirements and technical specifications.
After organizing the requirements, adding estimates, and devising a plan, this small fix had turned into a large-scale project that would have a big impact on Pac Global's day-to-day operations.
The Process, Re-Imagined
Our design team worked to imagine the existing offline workflow as a web application. We communicated with Pac Global to divide this process into several steps, with visual markers to identify how far along the process each customer was.
These markers would help each person involved (the claimant, Pac Global's team, and freight forwarders) stay accountable for their part. This visual app reduced confusion for the client – they knew exactly how far along their claim was, and who they were waiting on to complete it.
Each step is shown at the top of the user dashboard and displays a check when it has been completed.
Within each step, the customer's options are clearly displayed. In the case of damage, a user may be asked to obtain a replacement or repair estimate to help assess the claim. They can put in these numbers for each item as shown below.
And remember, previously, this entire process was handled through email and offline. Being able to upload necessary docs, quotes, and images and keep them in one place was a game changer.
After creating, discussing, and revising these workflows in collaboration with Pac Global, our development team implemented this new system using Ruby on Rails tied to a React.js front-end.
This new system informs every user to the status, dependencies, and roadblocks of their claim. Important dates and information are clearly provided to the customer. Helpful tools allow users to upload documents, files, and images to support the claim. And all changes and progress on a claim are tracked within the admin application, for a complete activity history.
The positive results of this new claims tool are evident for both Pac Global’s internal admin team, freight forwarders, and their end users. For those claiming insurance, the increased transparency in the claims process gives them assurance that they are working with a trustworthy insurance brokerage. They won’t have to waste time on endless emails and phone calls for their claim.
Instead, they’re able to clearly see the status of their claim item, who is handling it, and what the next steps will be. It reduces confusion and increases accountability.
For Pac Global, their admins are able to keep track of their communications with customers, and the status of each individual claim they’re working on. This increased transparency eases the relationship between Pac Global, freight forwarders, and the claimant, while saving administrative time with significantly reduced email communication.
When we released the redesigned claims tool to Pac Global in August, this didn’t mark the end of our partnership. We're continuing to work with Pac Global to improve their claims process, and support and maintain their entire workflow.
We’ll continue to have conversations with them about how their business is operating – what processes they dread and what is working well. And we will with all of our clients. While there are hundreds of development and design agencies out there, this long-term thinking and consideration for each business’s bottom line is one of our unique skills.
We've said before that if you're looking for the cheapest agency to check off a series of items on your to-do list, we probably aren't what you need. But if you're looking for a development and design partner to provide the perspective of a strategic consultant along the way, let's talk.