Why do our agents sit right next to our Product Managers?

Next Insurance is a rare breed in Small Business Insurance. We work with carrier partners to design and customize insurance for a specific business vertical (like Photographers, Personal Trainers, and Construction) – and then work directly with small business customers to help them go through the application process and purchase the right coverage. This is very different than traditional Insurance environment, where the employees designing the coverage and agents advising customers may work for different companies – or, at the very least, operate from different locations and rarely, if ever, interact.

Why do we have our Product Managers sitting (literally) in the same room with our A-Team Advisors who spend their day on the phone with customers? It’s not just because we are a small team and space in Silicon Valley is really expensive. We believe there is huge value in a continuous, ongoing stream of feedback from customers to our Advisors to the Product Managers responsible for product and experience decisions.

How does this help us in practice? It results in a very tight feedback loop, with rich qualitative insights complementing the quantitative read we get via analytics and reporting.
We constantly iterate on how our application questions are worded and make numerous improvements every month based on customer and advisor feedback
We never release a new customer-facing feature without “driving it by” our A-team first
There are numerous occasions every day where an A-team Advisor will share a customer’s pain point (e.g., needing coverage we can’t provide, the website not working properly) with other Advisors and Product Managers

Are there any downsides?

It gets noisy – a Product Manager may be on the phone with a carrier partner, or trying to focus on a design or analytical problem, while there are 3-4 customer conversations going on 3 feet away
It can sometimes be hard to focus – our Product Managers often have several Advisors calling out with feedback and questions, even while they are trying to focus on a design problem

We have weighed the pros and cons and continue to strongly believe having these teams sit together helps us build better products and experiences for our customers – and is thus the right thing to do. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions – particularly if you have experience interacting with our product and our A-team advisors.

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