E-Commerce at Wells Fargo
How Wells Fargo Is Using Networking to Carve Its Niche in the Insurance Industry As consumers continue to take advantage of online product purchases, traditional business models face challenges to keep pace with growing consumer wants. The online marketplace is a market segment that is definitely here for the long haul. According to the U. S. Census Bureau as of 2010, online sales growth is over two times higher than regular U. S. retail sales growth for the past 3 quarters during that period.
One industry that has specifically benefited from the explosion of the e-commerce phenomenon is that of financial services. Wells Fargo Bank has over 70 million customers worldwide; a consumer base that had largely gone untapped until recently for its’ insurance division. Using first-hand knowledge I will illustrate how Wells Fargo has utilized a unique business approach to transforming the selling of insurance through online marketplace by capitalizing off its’ existing bank customer database.
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They are accomplishing this by reducing overhead and unnecessary costs, sharing customer information across business lines, and using brand recognition to reach an ever growing consumer pool all through innovative networking and telecommunications strategy. One of the most difficult tasks presented to any salesmen is finding enough qualified potential customers to pitch to. Wells Fargo has solved this problem by prospecting its large banking customer base to find potential client’s for its business partners. First, local bankers are able to see how many different Wells Fargo products a customer has to gauge their brand loyalty.
The bankers then build a profile that they send over to the insurance department that lists the customer’s asset level, insurance products they are interested in, as well as their preferred contact information. Thus far, only 1 out of every 10 Wells Fargo banking customer has an insurance product in their household, so the potential to market to the other 90 percent of customers is ongoing. Prior to 2011, the banking side of the business used a completely different operating system and it was tedious for departments to transmit information across different areas.
Through our new Store Vision Platform, bankers and customer service reps can take a profile snapshot and send that client’s profile information over to the referral system, creating better customer interaction by reducing repeated demographic information related questions needed to provide a quote. Another expense that is reduced by marketing to pre-existing Wells Fargo customers is reduction in wasted advertising efforts. Existing customers have higher closing rates and are generally more interested in the marketing pitch of agents than cold-calling non Wells Fargo customers.
Due to the insurance department’s use of an online website and complete network of online carriers, overhead costs are dramatically reduced. Office supplies, utilities costs, and travel expenses in particular consume a large portion of this overall debt. As a global entity, Wells Fargo has greatly reduced these expenses by catering to the entire United States market from three distinct call center locations: Phoenix, Arizona, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and locally in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In choosing these locations, the company is able to meet the insurance needs of all three major U.
S. time zones. We service our clients entirely through a call center environment and use paperless documentation for the majority of our transactions. This greatly reduces wasteful spending on wages for added processors as well as added material costs for paper, indeed one of the greatest expenses typically associated with an insurance agency. Also, utilizing electronic documentation increases accountability and creates a more efficient transaction, thereby negating unwanted costs that arise from routine clinical errors.
Through streamlining its’ cross-business processes and taking advantages of existing customer relationship management systems on the banking side, Wells Fargo is able to leverage itself against many of the wasted costs experienced by traditional insurance companies to become a major force in the insurance broker business. A prominent obstacle of traditional insurance selling methods is that the agent typically can only quote potential clients that are within a regional geographic area. Wells Fargo has bridged this gap through its use of a primarily internet based sales platform.
Clients can access the corporate website and perform a preliminary quote online at any hour of the day. After their sale, customers have access to our insurance network where they can use secure log-in information to access their policy documents and execute basic transactions such as print proofs of insurance or updating contact information. Also, clients can reach an agent or customer service representative from 8 a. m. to 8 p. m. PST for the insurance department’s reps while having around the clock access to their specific carrier’s service line.
We are licensed to sell in all 50 states and can complete the entire sales process via phone and computer. This fosters a pleasant customer experience as a client can purchase a policy and receive proof of coverage without ever leaving the comfort of their home. As the business continues to grow, I am confident that Wells Fargo is placing itself in a position to optimize its U. S. insurance presence while keeping an eye toward a global future as markets continue to exacerbate the challenges presented by geographic constraints. it helps to ease some of the concerns normally associated with purchasing products or services online. Customers have entrusted the bank with their most prized possession: their money. It is a natural byproduct of this association that the bank decided to invest in products and services to help preserve those assets. When a client enters local bank branches to perform their routine financial transactions, personal bankers are there to aid in the discovery of potential sales opportunities while interacting with the clients about their financial dealings.
Many of our customers share strong personal ties to these bankers and look to them to provide basic financial counseling and solutions. As agents, we embrace the confidence the customer has placed in the individual bankers as well as the company to offer insurance products through our participating vendors. Similarly, strictly online users have ample opportunities to research our services and receive a preliminary online quote prior to calling an agent to purchase the policy. Although the bank maintains a massive global and national presence, its urrent company motto, “Together we’ll go far” signifies its attempts to align itself with its customer base and give them a sense of belonging. This sense of intimacy is vital in deconstructing many of the barriers associated with big business and the insurance industry as a whole being labeled as poachers. The majority of online insurance service competitors such as Esurance do not have this rich tradition or community presence to draw upon when trying to entice new customers.
Well Fargo has used networking and telecommunications to form a focused approach of drawing on its history and existing customer relationships to become the first of the major four U. S. banks to begin offering large scale insurance products other than life insurance to meet client needs. In conclusion, Wells Fargo is making groundbreaking efforts in its path toward becoming a major player in the insurance industry through its use of online selling.
Bankers are enabled to explore expanded cross-selling opportunities of products while maintaining consumer trust. The ability to offer products electronically and better communicate with vendors in the online marketplace has allowed the insurance division to use an innovative business approach toward offering insurance product services. Through its utilization of cross-selling across different business platforms through network streamlining, and focus on brand recognition, the company is carving its own niche in an expanding market.