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Texting for Insurance Agencies

Texting for Insurance Agencies

Communicating in the 21st Century and working in the clients’ comfort zone.


Because texting for insurance agencies is relatively new, concerns over E&O documentation, staff member responsiveness and accountability  are holding some agencies back.. However, the  insurance agents are finding more and more often that texting is often their clients’ preferred form of communication.

Experts argue that if clients want to communicate via text, agencies better get on board.

Pat Alexander’s article The Reality of Texting For Insurance Agencies, recently published by Agents Council for Technology (ACT), addresses agent concerns, puts forth a set of best practices and offers specific instructions for forwarding texts to email, sending texts from email and implementing an agency text address.

Best practices she lists are as follows:

  •  Do you want to be relevant to your client base? If so, then you must embrace this technology.
  • Set standards and best practices. These really are no different than handling face-to-face conversations, phone calls, emails, etc. Your standard should be that all conversations with the client or with others about the client’s account are to be documented in the agency management system or the system which you are using to collect client data.
  • Be pro-active and determine how to best receive texts at the agency level and educate your staff and clients.
  • If your client and someone in your agency are friends, inevitably there will be a text on a person phone. Define, train and implement the process to get this moved to an agency level as quickly as possible.

We’d also add that texts should remain professional. Take care that words are correctly spelled, proper punctuation is used and make sure there are no typos.


 

Customizing Reports

Agency to Agency…

An Interview with Kirk Stubblefield
Stubblefield Insurance Agency, LLC – www.stubblefieldinsurance.com
Location: Abilene, Seymour and Olney, TX

A few months ago, Kirk Stubblefield of Stubblefield Insurance Agency in Texas graciously agreed to do an interview with SIS talking about his experiences with the Partner XE agency management system and the service he receives from SIS. During that interview Kirk mentioned that one of his favorite aspects of Partner XE is the flexibility it gives him to run reports that really drill down on various aspects of his business. What follows here is a much shorter version, intended to be part of a best practices series for those already using our software.

Can you give me examples of how you use the customized reporting feature to analyze your business?

I can use Partner XE to run a complete list of what each employee has brought into the business at any given time. I can see where they are and give bonuses based on what they are able to bring in without advertising. The reports I have set up will tell me exactly whether an employee has brought in new business, what type of business they brought in and the premium that each one of them is doing. Running and reviewing the reports allows me to get to the point of what I need to work on with each employee. Is it that they aren’t doing anything or is it that they don’t know what to do? I can use the reports to uncover where I need more training.

In addition, I can specify reports based on lines of business, office location (note: Stubblefield has three offices), new policies, lapsed policies, growth, attrition, etc. If I can see one office is growing and another is not, I can step back and figure out what one office is doing that the other is not.

We can also use the reports to adjust our marketing efforts. We can compare clients to clients to uncover which type of companies or lines of business are more profitable – then we can target our marketing efforts using those parameters… Where things are working the best for you that is what you need to expand on.

How often do you look at these reports?

Depending on the report, I look at it daily, weekly, monthly annually. I look at what each office is doing as a whole and know how we are doing as an agency.

Where do you pull the reports?

The searches under clients and policies are the best reports. You can also customize to create your favorite parameters. When you come up with one you like you can save it. You can really build reports to do almost anything you want.

 

Increase Independent Insurance Agency Profitability

3 Ways to use Your Partner XE Agency Management System to MakeYour Business More Profitable


There are many ways to use the Partner XE Agency Management System to increase profitability for your agency. For starters…

1.) Information, Information, Information

Partner XE has a number of prebuilt reports an agency can run to gain insight to what is happening in their businesses. Don’t see what you want? You can easily create a custom report to get the exact information you are looking for.

Examples of how to use reporting to increase profitability:

  • Learn which lines of business are most profitable and adjust your marketing to sell more of those lines.
  • Identify common characteristic of your clients and target more people like them.
  • Run a Premium by Carrier By Line of Business report to get a good understanding of how you are doing with a certain carrier, where you are selling well, where you are not and if there are other lines of business available that you might be able to focus on.
  • Identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities and market accordingly.
  • Determine which of your producers are producing and which are not.  Then dig deeper to find out what the high producers are doing that the others are not to teach that throughout your agency
  • And much more.

All of these reports can easily be exported to Excel with two clicks of the mouse or you can print letters and envelopes for everyone on the list for direct mail marketing campaigns.

 2.) Increase Efficiency with Commercial Downloads and Real Time

We are committed to making the lives of our clients easier and more productive. One way Partner XE does that is through the ability to download commercial lines policies – eliminating the need for manual entry and increasing the amount of time you have to focus on sales and customer service.

In addition, thanks to Real Time, agencies using Partner XE can pass client information already entered in their agency management system directly to the carrier website to pre-fill required information, improving accuracy, saving time and freeing up more time for selling.

 3.) Track and Monitor Sales and Marketing Efforts with To-Do Lists

The Marketing To-Do List within your Partner XE agency management system can serve several purposes. Most importantly though, the To-Do List will help you keep track of the different stages of your various sales and marketing campaigns. To keep Producers/CSRs on track for each step or follow up, these To-Do Lists have reminders that can be set to show up on your “desktop reminders list” when a follow up is required or scheduled. Since there are often multiple people involved with a single marketing campaign, the To-Do Lists can also be assigned to multiple users so when one person has accomplished their steps they can assign the To-Do List to the next person so they can take over the marketing workflow. In short, no many how many people you are marketing to, no matter how many people on your team, using the To-Do lists correctly will ensure nothing slips through the cracks and everyone is accountable to their own action items – which ultimately should lead to closing more business!

Partner XE from SIS is an easy to use, online hosted insurance agency management system with logical workflows, exceptional download and comparative rater integration capabilities and best in the business Outlook integration. If you are not already using Partner XE and would like to learn why so many agencies are switching to our system, give us a call at 800-747-9273 or fill out a short contact form and we’ll be in touch. You’ll be glad you did.

Protecting Data in a Mobile World

Benjamin Franklin once said that distrust and caution are the parents of security. While some might label this type of thinking as paranoid, in most situations a little caution never hurt anyone — especially when it comes to insurance agents protecting the client data that is accessible on their mobile devices.

Insurance Best Practices for Protecting Data

 Switch to a fully hosted agency management system like Partner XE

  • Secure servers housed off-site at an impregnable data center, internet and server firewall data protection, encrypted communication, secure logons and more protect the data that is stored in your agency management system from natural disaster, server failure and people (honorable or not) that don’t have authorized access to the system.

 Go Paperless: Move to an encrypted digital document storage system

  • While paper files are very difficult to safeguard from theft, prying eyes or natural disaster– in an office environment or on the go – documents scanned and stored within your agency management system have the same security protection as the rest of your data.

Recognize that a laptop or other portable device can be lost, stolen or infringed upon

  • Keep Passwords Secure – Protecting data starts with the basics. Take measures to ensure that passwords are not shared, publicly known or readily accessible by anyone who knows where to look. This may sound simplistic but don’t keep your password in your briefcase, on a “sticky note” on your desktop, in your planner, your desk, your PDA or anywhere else that someone else may find it. The best thing you can do is to commit it to memory. The greatest security risk to your data is a person with the right password.
  • Keep Partner XE User Permissions Tightly Controlled – Authorize access only as necessary. Usually you want at least one backup for each role but don’t allow access that is not absolutely needed for a person to do his/her job.
  • Remember to Log Out – While the data stored in Partner XE is password protected, if you remain logged into the system when you walk away from the computer, anyone can access it. Best practice then is to always log out of the system when not in use. (We talk Partner XE here because that is what we sell, but this advice would apply to any password-protected system that houses personal information.)
  • Keep Data in an Encrypted Space – When confidential data is stored directly on the laptop outside of the agency management system it can be susceptible to theft. Examples of things that might fit into this category are completed forms, scanned documents, etc. Best practice then is to save this type of data in encrypted space. To create an encrypted space you can use a program like the very good (and free) TrueCrypt. You can also encrypt your entire hard drive, although that will likely slow the performance of your machine. Encrypted space does not slow performance.
  • Use Security Software – Yes, when you use the Partner XE agency management system we make sure the data in your system is protected with internet and server firewall data protection, malware protection & anti-virus, weekly security patch updates to Windows and internet and server firewall data protection. This does not, however, impact data saved outside our system. To protect that “external” data, we also recommend that you use one antivirus program, a spyware scanner regularly and keep your PDF reader (usually Adobe Acrobat Reader) updated and on the latest version. Don’t over-do the security software, it often conflicts with other programs and can, if overdone, slow your PC to a crawl.

 

 

 

Build a permanent email trail

Agency Management System Helps Mitigate E&O Risks

Build a permanent email trail with Partner XE’s Outlook Integration feature


Email is great, right? It is faster, cheaper and more environmentally sustainable than snail mail, it doesn’t take up any space in a filing cabinet and it’s easy to stick it in a folder in Outlook and find it later when you need it. While the above is true, what many don’t take into consideration is that computers are not infallible. If a machine decides to die on you, there is a possibility that you’ll lose the files for good. What is also true is that messages sent via email can be subpoenaed. In today’s litigious society, a permanent email trail is a necessity.

Several years ago in his Rough Notes article entitled E-mail: Risky business? John Chivvis quoted Jon Neiditz, an attorney and risk management expert for the Chicago-based law firm of Lord, Bissell & Brook, as saying, “Some business owners don’t realize that e-mail messages are not the same as spoken words, but in fact are treated by courts and regulators as documents…What’s more, many e-mails are not only documents but business records, too, and therefore subject to record retention requirements.”

If your machine has crashed and you can’t pull up the old files it can lead to big problems. In an industry like insurance, poor archiving and lack of  a permanent email trail can open doors to legal risks.

Risk mitigation with Partner XE

Fortunately for agencies using the Partner XE agency management system from SIS, the Outlook integration feature that comes with it goes a long way to helping them build a permanent, easily accessible “paper trail” of email communications.

“Emails and protecting them is something that Partner XE can help with in a big way,” said Bryce Lee, National Accounts Manager-Technical Services for SIS.

“When agents use the Outlook integration feature and attach their emails to a client file within the Partner XE system, they are then stored as permanent records and that cannot be deleted or altered.”

Not only does the Outlook integration feature in Partner XE help diminish E&O risk, it also helps with inbox clutter. Once attached to the client file, the email can be deleted from Outlook and Partner XE will still store that email as a permanent record.

Because Partner XE is an online hosted system with redundant backups and secure servers housed off-site at an impregnable data center with around the clock physical security there is no need to worry about your computer crashing or natural disaster striking. Your email messages, along with the rest of your client data, will be safe and secure.

Find out why so many agencies have been switching to the Partner XE insurance agency management system from SIS. Call 800-747-9273 or click here to get in touch with a representative.