Your customers want you to service them, and they want that service… like… yesterday.
How do you run an insurance business (which is all about thinking ahead and having patience and foresight) when your target market is an impatient crowd?
You make intelligent upgrades, that’s how.
(Key word being “intelligent”!)
Most agencies and brokers know they need to improve customer relations, but they often think in terms of “more touch points,” or “value add,” or some other corporate-speak technobabble that real consumers don’t understand and don’t care about.
And that’s not all.
As an insurance agency, you face an endless string of problems getting your message to the right people at the right time.
Here are 6 of the most common problems agents and brokers face, and how insurance distribution technology helps overcome them:
1. Bad workflow and environment
One of the most frustrating things about the insurance industry is its almost complete lack of technology. It’s very much a “pen and ink” kind of business, where insurers that have been in business for more than 100 years still operate as they did back when they opened.
Agents have a very repetitive job, with names, dates, addresses, etc. being written in multiple places. If that doesn’t drive the agent insane, then the multiple signature pages will, because customers predictably forget one of them and the agent doesn’t notice until it gets sent back to him by management, which takes a few days or even a week because nothing gets transferred digitally.
Nothing is in the cloud. We’re still scanning documents by hand and having underwriters call about a wet signature weeks later.
And even when systems have been computerized, they’re “siloed”, which means manual entry. The repetition inherent in paperwork isn’t eliminated.
Don’t forget about material mistakes when you’re entering data for the umpteenth time. Make one and you might trigger that oh-so-needed errors and omissions coverage. There goes your premium for next year.
Solution: Becoming a digital agency
Not only does this approach make sense, it saves time and reduces compliance risk. When your platform lives in the cloud, you can simplify the application process, reduce repetition, and get customers involved in the process-- not just for applications but policy management, too.
Cloud systems can also “talk” to each other, meaning you’re out of the silo and into a connected universe. Quotes take less time, are more accurate, and customers are happier.
The most efficient way to become a digital agency is by using a flexible, modular and cloud-based insurance brokerage management platform to take your business online and into the 21st century.
It’s how agents make money long-term. But, it’s also the elephant in the room. If persistency rates drop, then agency income gets slammed. Agents aren’t happy. Brokers aren’t happy. Insurers aren’t happy. And, everyone knows that policyholders slip through the cracks come renewal time.
Part of the problem is customer service (or the lack of it). But the even bigger problem is the lack of automation.
Solution: Automation (Duh)
Automated renewals solve a lot of the problem with non-renewals. As long as the customer is otherwise happy with your agency, an automated system will keep policies from lapsing.
Sounds great, right?
Easier said than done?
Using an insurance distribution technology platform that enables you to set automated tasks is key to making this solution work -- and it is easy to set up.
3. Inefficient marketing
Marketing in the insurance industry is harder than in most other industries. Why? Because of regulation, that’s why. You can’t say this, that, or the other. What you can say is a tightly organized boilerplate message approved by compliance that is guaranteed not to sell. So, when you do sell, you want your marketing to be as efficient and effective as possible.
Solution: Data-driven marketing
You don’t just need numbers. You need the right numbers. And, when you have them, it can make all the difference. You can measure your marketing channels to make sure what you’re doing actually works. And, this is good because you know where to dump most of your marketing budget, whether that’s pay-per-click campaigns, referral marketing, direct mail ads, networking, or something else entirely.
An ideal insurance agency management system will enable you to see a complete 360-degree view of your business - including the results of your marketing efforts. It can provide you with information about through which devices your clients connect with you most, through which campaigns do they find out about you, and the path they follow to reach you. This data, and more, will give you concrete numbers telling you where to invest more money.
4. Siloed systems
Siloed systems create siloed thinking.
In other words, management in one office may not share the same priorities, goals or even the same tools and methods as management in another office. Because of this, each office acts like a separate business, which creates managerial inefficiencies and kills employee morale company-wide.
For example, one office may use a computer program not available in other offices. This program might simplify the insurance application process. However, if this software isn’t available in all offices, then some offices might get an unfair advantage over others. The company won’t be working as a team. They’ll be competing against one another as though they’re separate and distinct businesses.
Solution: The cloud
Using a cloud-based solution to manage your insurance agency can eliminate this problem quickly. Information is shared across the entire agency and all tools and processes are uniform. A software application that helps one office can help all offices and the business can grow together as a team.
5. Generic sales pitches
You don’t like them and neither do your customers. They are rehearsed, impersonal, and many times, irrelevant. Your customers equate your calls with calls from a telemarketer.
Solution: Personalized sales pitches
One of the cooler things about having an integrated platform is the fact that you get data-driven actionable insights. When you understand your book of business, you can sell more because you’ll have up to date information about your customers, the policies they currently have, and any life changes they currently went through (like a new house, a new baby, a new car, etc.) With these details, you’ll be able to tailor your sales calls to their needs. You’ll be seen as a trusted consultant as opposed to a dreaded telemarketer. You’ll make more money and your customers will get the insurance policies they need, leaving everyone happy.
6. Push-based sales
This has been the standard since, well… forever. The salesperson calls the prospect on the phone, makes a sales pitch, and follows up relentlessly for the sale. Additional sales and cross-sales involve approaching the client, selling them a policy, and providing follow up for periodic service.
Sometimes, the customer contacts the agent for service.
Problem is, customers don’t like doing business that way anymore. They’re doing their own research. They’re more involved in gathering intel on your company. They know your product line and exactly which insurance policy they need.
Solution: Pull-based sales
With a pull-based, customer-driven approach, the prospect finds the digital agency through various online tools and resources. They can run their own quotes and initiate the call to the broker for more information or to buy a policy. In some cases, they can just fill out an application and buy a policy online.
Existing customers can log into a secure area online at any time and see policy details. They can make changes to billing payment methods and might even be able to change policy coverage.
For the agent, it makes selling and cross-selling much easier.
Customers also get the benefit of being connected to their agent 24/7 and can initiate contact through an online portal or mobile app.
A connected agency is an agency that will survive. Unfortunately, the industry resists change, so it’s been slow going. Will you be one of the early adopters? Do you want to survive the technological revolution that we are in the midst of?