Insurance agencies, like all businesses, need to keep up with new trends to stay competitive. Here are a few you should consider adopting if you haven’t already.
Have we mentioned lately that insurance agencies often struggle with their willingness and speed to adopt new practices? While some insurance agencies may be comfortable on the cutting edge of new technology, you’re not alone if you find the state of your agency operations largely resembles what it did 20 years ago.
Being behind the times isn’t a great business practice in general, but even less so when it’s costing you time, money, client satisfaction, and even staff retention. Here are three modern productivity tips to consider when you want to focus on streamlining agency operations for better efficiency, lower costs, and a better client experience.
Which operational processes are holding insurance agencies back?
Before you can address an issue, you have to identify it. When you take a good, honest look at your agency’s operational practices, does the word “streamlined” come to mind? Or is it more tedious, manual, repetitive, and frustrating? These are some of the most common internal, operational obstacles that hold insurance agencies back from reaching their potential.
The relatively recent work-from-home revolution has prompted a lot of insurance agencies to invest in technology that makes it easier for teams to work from different locations. But that’s not the case for everyone. Or, even if an insurance agency went all-in on Zoom meetings and shared cloud drive storage for collaboration, they might not have invested in the kind of insurance-specific tech systems that truly move the needle towards modernization.
Outdated technology comes with a lot of pitfalls. Sure, your team knows how to use it and it may not be costing you a lot to maintain on paper. But, when you consider some of the negative impacts of legacy technology at your insurance agency, it may not be worth it.
Some of these risks and costs include:
- The cost of maintaining older systems (often hidden not in the software itself but in the resources and infrastructure required to keep it running)
- The risk of getting a bad reputation if your older technology causes a publicly visible snafu
- Regulatory fines and fees if your technology doesn’t help you stay in compliance at all times and manual compliance measures aren’t perfect
Manual and multi-step tasks
This is actually a side effect of outdated technology in many ways. While new technology often includes integrations, which feed information from one place to another without the need for manual re-entry, older ways of doing things often rely on a person with different browser tabs, spreadsheets, and PDFs open at the same time.
The more manual a process is, and the more steps required, the more room there is for error. Plus, we don’t know anyone who really wants to spend time moving data from one location to another.
The wrong people for the job
If you have some highly trained and highly skilled insurance geniuses on your staff (and we’re pretty sure you do) then you definitely don’t want to be making them spend time on things like data entry and other tedious processes. When your producers are spending hours on a scavenger hunt for policy details or answering low-level customer questions, they are, by definition, not spending their time selling.
Making sure you’ve got the right people with the right skills for each type of role is an imperative piece of streamlining and optimizing your agency operations.
We all know “Cathy in Compliance.” She’s the one who knows everything about everything because she’s been with the agency for 30 years. Whether your version of Cathy is getting ready to retire, wants to take a vacation, or is just plain tired of answering questions about the status of every producer’s license from every direction, this is symptomatic of a data silo.
Having one person, or just a few people, with vast amounts of knowledge isn’t operationally efficient. When everyone in the organization has to call upon one of these subject matter experts instead of being able to find information for themselves, it puts you at risk. Not to mention, it’s not pleasant for the person who holds the information or the people who want it.
The modern insurance agency productivity hacks to streamline operations
Now that we’ve identified some common challenges today’s agencies face, here are three ways to remove roadblocks and streamline your agency’s operations and processes.
1. Hire virtual assistants
Virtual assistants (VAs) are taking the insurance industry by storm. Agents have literally called them “game changing” for their productivity. While early-adopting agencies are easily a few years into their VA experiences, some agencies are just now getting up to speed. If your producers and account managers are overwhelmed with manual and time-consuming tasks like answering phone calls and emails, digging through policies for simple terms, or reminding clients about upcoming renewals, VAs can help.
Additionally, VAs are often based outside the U.S., which makes them highly affordable. But they can be based anywhere, if you prefer someone in a specific state or country. These helpful employees (often contracted through a third-party agency) can take on administrative and data entry tasks that don’t require a licensed insurance agent or certified insurance service representative (CISR). This frees up those more experienced (and expensive) workers to do the revenue-generating work they want to be doing.
2. Implement a customer relationship management system (CRM)
Many agencies pride themselves on their personalized customer service. But the way you keep track of your clients, and the way you foster those client relationships, changes drastically as your agency grows.
With hundreds or even thousands of clients – each potentially with multiple policies through different carriers – if you’re not using technology to keep track of your relationships, things are bound to fall through the cracks. A CRM helps you keep track of every detail about each customer, their needs, their products, and each interaction your agency’s had with them. With a CRM in place, you can quickly respond to customer inquiries and provide personalized communication and customer service. The best CRMs for insurance agencies will be ones that integrate with your agency management system, compliance management system, and other systems you use to sell and service policies and run your agency.
3. Modernize your compliance management
Compliance might feel like an afterthought. Or maybe it seems like an obstacle to growth. If you’ve ever put producer licensing compliance on the back burner in favor of onboarding as many producers as possible, as quickly as possible, we understand. The truth is, not prioritizing producer compliance can be costly both financially and in terms of your reputation with clients and your distribution channel partners.
On the other hand, if your agency already puts a lot of attention on compliance, but you’re not doing it in a modern way, your staff is tying up valuable hours and risking human error. That doesn’t have to be the case!
One of the best tricks for streamlining insurance agency operations and improving efficiency and scalability at your agency is to invest in an automated compliance solution that frees your agency staff from the tedium of managing insurance compliance across 50 states and multiple lines of business. Even better, doing this helps remove data and workflow silos by giving everyone a single source of truth and allowing Cathy in Compliance to take a day off.
At AgentSync, we build modern insurance infrastructure that helps insurance agencies, carriers, and MGAs/MGUs streamline operations and save money while focusing on revenue and distribution channel growth. To see how we can help you automate compliance and give your producers and other staff hours back in their day, contact us or watch a demo now.