For Shinkong Insurance Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Shinkong Insurance"), "human" is the most import issue of management. Hence, Shinkong Insurance has built and introduced an "organizational memory management system" that innovatively integrates "knowledge management", "customer relationship management" and "organizational memory" to ensure customer satisfaction and improvement of the sense of achievement and work satisfaction of the employees.
Since entering the property insurance industry, I have been thinking of how to help new employees understand the company within the shortest period of time. For this, Shinkong Insurance uses computers and software as aids in helping employees understand the company and the range of their duties in a short time. Especially, employees may not know what their colleagues are doing and the handover of the work is not carried out systematically when they are transferred or moved to another department, so they waste much time in engagement or learning from the very beginning and, nevertheless, they cannot achieve the goal of their work. I discussed my idea with the colleagues of the IT department and planned to create a basic and dynamic information source for the customer, product information and active customer care for customer satisfaction using a complete "organizational memory system" and software like Heart-Run (Note 1). The Vitals/KM system was taken into account to contain educational training courses; FAQs, experiential knowledge and so on, perform knowledge feedback and sharing, and help employees in their learning and growth. The functions, announcements, relevant regulations and operating guidelines must be established to ensure passing on the experience and controlling the business processes with organizational memory as the basis.
Breakthrough of "three difficulties" in personnel management
Property insurance is a professional industry, and "man" is the most important factor in its professionalism. However, there are "three difficulties" encountered frequently in personnel management. First, "difficult educational training" of new employees; second, "difficult experience inheritance" due to turnover of trained talents; and last, "difficult communication and coordination" due to serious egoism reflected in numerous property insurance products.
In addition to collecting detailed data systematically, appropriate use of the "organizational memory management system" requires the employee to "find" data directly rather than have no way of finding data, though there are many in the computer. Therefore, fast "search" is a very important function.
We constructed the system while asking employees to collect data and used this system to integrate product information, laws, regulations and guidelines. Employees were requested to read the data in the system as they would be used to build an item pool later. The employees would have a test to verify what they have learned in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the educational training.
Customer information was maintained by salespersons in the past and many salespersons left office along with their customers. Therefore, we use the CRM system to help employees understand and trace old customers. This is also a useful tool to develop new customers because "one recommendation from an acquaintance is better than ten cold calls". The requirements of customers can be met more satisfactorily and good customer relationship is established and maintained using this excellent CRM system.
I have said many times that there are two kinds of customers. One is the external customer and the other is the internal customer (i.e. the employee). Both needs to be managed appropriately and good tools are needed to aid in the management and follow-up actions. In addition to providing service that customers need, active care of the customers and service beyond their requests are of utmost importance to strengthen their loyalty.
Understanding employees at lunch time
"Man" is the focus in the promotion of knowledge management. When I joined Shinkong Insurance, all employees were unfamiliar to me. So, I asked them to fill out an information form when I took up my post. In addition to the basic information and duties of the employees, I asked them to attach their photos to the form. This was helpful for me to know every employee. I also used the IPO (Input Process Output) method to understand the basis on which they did their daily jobs and helped them understand what was correct or wrong in their work. Initially, many employees did not know how to fill out the form and left most of the fields empty, indicating that the internal audit and control of Shinkong Insurance must be improved appropriately.
Then, I made an arrangement to have lunch with the employees three days a week so that I can understand them more. In this way, I had lunch with all employees, including the telephone operator in the head office, and they would know what they were doing and what they should do in their conversations with me. Impressively, a telephone operator came to me and asked if she could have another lunch with me because she was so nervous to talk to me at the first lunch time. This made me pleasantly surprised. Besides, I invited all employees of the service office that ranked first in the performance to a meal. So, I made a joke and said "it is not difficult to have a meal with me. You only need to win the first place."
Share of the experience "around Taiwan"
After being familiar with the employees, I traveled "around Taiwan" In addition to conversations with the employees of 23 branches and service offices, I told them to think what they were doing because it was important to do the right things with the right concepts. New employees did not know anything at the initial stage in the company and should "learn" actively and asked questions explicitly. "Thinking" what was right was needed after learning and some "innovations" should be added to the thinking. "Implementation" was the next step and experience must be written down clearly and placed in the system for "passing-on". The "learning, thinking, innovation, implementation and passing-on" formed the promotion and sharing process of knowledge.
Writing and sharing what have been learned
When I came to Shinkong Insurance, the employees were nervous with me because I was unfamiliar to them and they did not know what I was planning to do. However, after the lunches and face-to-face communications, they could perceive my intention and easy going characteristics, and understood the direction of their work. In this way, I gradually narrowed the gap and created trust between me and the employees.
But more than this, I started writing after the lunches and shared a small story with the employees every week. Responses were acquired from the employees after a period of time and, by doing so, I could learn some stories or edification that they shared with me. The most significant change in the employees during this interaction was their willingness to actively express what they thought. This was very helpful to the work and I as a leader should go in front of them and act as a model. Now, good articles and thinking are promoted at the morning meetings in every branch. This is a good sharing mechanism and we put these data in the KM system to share them with all the employees.
Leading supervisors to give lectures and passing down professional experience and knowledge
The power of a single person is limited, so I started requesting and encouraging other supervisors to give lectures to the employees. The 8 supervisors in the head office were in charge during the initial phase and every one of them must give 27 professional lectures on educational training. The lecture was recorded to make VCDs and share them with other employees. This urged the supervisors to summarize the knowledge that they have learned during their preparations for the lecture. In this way, knowledge was not retained only in one’s head any more, but organized systematically and shared with the employees. This was not only very helpful to mine tacit knowledge but is also a good opportunity for interaction through the questions that the audience asked. The supervisors who opposed initially have made a breakthrough in their performance gradually because they have developed a sense of achievement and became more confident. They can perceive the effectiveness of the sharing of knowledge after a period of time.
Shinkong Insurance arranges cross-visit training for sales manages. They may select three departments from which they want to learn most and have a 3-day visit to each of the selected departments within 6 months. In addition to taking photos as evidence, they must prepare an SWOT analysis and learning report (Fig. 2) within half a month after visiting a department. The photos, together with the report, are then sent to me so that I can understand what they have learned. The mangers can also take this opportunity to understand what other employees are doing. This learning approach has never been implemented before. What is most important is the experience in learning and sharing, which is hard to come by.I record the mailing time and method of each mail to observe the cost concept of the managers and their habit of doing things. I can learn more about the managers in this way.
Creation of a "share-based" corporate culture
The most important value that the "organizational memory management system" brings to Shinkong Insurance is that all employees have now developed the concept of "sharing". Since there is a great deal of knowledge to be shared in the insurance industry, the employees gradually changed their concept from "damage compensation" to "loss control". This is the final and most important goal of insurance. I have learned a lot and grown significantly during this promotion period. The company has enjoyed an increasingly greater business achievement, too. Though not having the operating or sales background in the property insurance industry, I, perhaps, can expound my "New Five NOT" approach.I was nobody in the property insurance industry when I started this business. No one knew me and I was a person "not seen" by other people and my colleagues in the industry did "not respect me" and treated me as a questionable candidate for my post. When they heard of my approaches, they did "not understand" what I was doing. When they found that my approaches worked, they could "not learn" from me effectively. Finally, I of course wished that the other insurance companies in the industry are "not able to defeat Shinkong Insurance". We cooperated with Vitals ESP for the construction of the system because the Vitals ESP team was sincere and provided customized solutions to meet our requirements. The cooperation was pleasant, and I believe there are many opportunities to cooperate with each other in the future.