800.747.9273
The Top Insurance Agency Management Tips to Set Your Independent Agency Apart

The Top Insurance Agency Management Tips to Set Your Independent Agency Apart

As the insurance industry grows more competitive, the particulars of your specific insurance agency management will make your business stand out. Those particulars could be location proximity, ease of doing business, or even something as simple as how your website looks. Though price still matters, changes in cost can only go so far.

The true test of what makes your agency the best choice is the overall customer experience. Seemingly small touches that make each interaction easier, more personable, and leave each customer with a positive feeling have a real impact. Today it’s about more than the best price and the latest tech; it’s how you use these tools to empower, differentiate, and create the best experience in your agency.

Stick with the Fundamentals

Whether your agency has been around for five years or 50, there are some fundamental core elements your customers value. Those are:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Service
  3. Relationship

An old adage says, “You lose a customer for the same reason you won them.” These three areas are those reasons: your agency stands out because of your niche knowledge, speedy and effective service, and the personal relationships you build with customers. Big-name providers simply can’t offer these to the same degree as you, an independent agent. Focus on holding fast to these fundamentals, and you’ll gain more customers than you lose.

Blend Tech with Human Interactions

One of the biggest mistakes newer agencies make these days is to rely too much on technology to get work done. Though insurtech has its place in increasing efficiency, it doesn’t replace the power of human interactions.

Focus on finding that balance between using tech for its speed and accuracy while keeping human-driven avenues open for service and support. Look to tech to streamline routine claims and policy processing, but leave space for in-person meetings or phone calls to walk customers through more complex issues. The tech/human balance is an essential chord to strike to keep your agency growing.

Grow Your Expertise

Your deep knowledge of the industry and its nuances is why customers choose you over big-name providers. However, the insurance industry is changing due to technological advances, new ways of doing business, and changes in regulations. You need to keep your team up to date on the latest in the industry with regular continuing education sessions and by gaining additional professional accreditations.

Streamline and Personalize Communications

If your agency has been around for a while, you likely grasp what it means to personalize your communications. Yet, it may become more difficult to keep up that personal touch in your usual ways as you grow. Tech can help by leveraging data to customize your email, social media, and text outreach. Look into tools like marketing automation and an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) to get the personal connection and efficiency you need.

Expand Ways to Get Service and Support

Your customers’ service experience is vital to your agency’s reputation. As a new generation of individuals enters the insurance market, they have different service expectations. Though all your customers will want personalization and a human-driven experience, they’ll also want the option to communicate in different ways. Expand your communication offerings with texting, a branded agency app, an easy-to-navigate website, and an online customer portal. The more choices customers have when it comes to service, the better.

Stay Nimble to Stay Relevant

In a recent conversation with one of our Partner Platform agencies, we talked about the importance of being flexible in order to respond to unexpected changes in the market. Disruptors like the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2008 financial crisis can be hard to prepare for, but you can react quickly if your agency has a culture of trust and flexibility.

Equipping your agency with more tech efficiency is part of that nimbleness. When you have systems that can automatically operate without much effort, you create the time and space to think about what adjustments you need and how to make them happen – fast. Large, complex agencies simply cannot make the quick adjustments your agency can to provide speedy, personal service and communications during uncertainty.

Partner Platform is the Independent Agency’s System

When we created our Partner Platform agency management system suite, we designed it with the independent agency in mind. The easy-to-navigate system has room for personalization bolstered with the latest tech efficiency. We regularly consult with our Partner Platform Community to find ways to make our system work better for our independent agents.

Discover more about our system, community, and commitment to independent agents. Visit us at sispartnerplatform.com and get in touch with our team today.

What is the Future of Insurance Software?

What is the Future of Insurance Software?

The year 2020 was unique in many ways, one of which was how the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of technology across industries. This was just the beginning. We continue to see insurance software emerge as a decisive factor among agencies. Many of our independent agencies identify understanding and embracing tech as critical for survival and growth for small to medium-sized agencies.

So, to prepare our agency clients, we look forward and ask: what does the future of insurance software hold?

An Agency Management System that Can Grow

Gathering, analyzing, and storing prospect and customer data is essential for the future of insurance. Your agency management system is your data hub, and it needs to keep up with expanding data use. Successful agencies will have a management system that evolves with the changing market without interrupting daily service. Modern agency management systems need to live in the cloud, have regular updates, and focus on security to help your agency stay data-forward.

Systems that Work Together

The future of insurance software is systems that work together without you having to lift a finger. Integrated accounting, email, texting, quoting, and other systems save time and improve data processing. As system integration continues to improve, agencies that utilize their management system as a proper “system of record,” flooding data to and from other necessary systems without duplicate entry, will get ahead. 

Intelligent Reporting

Data reporting and analytics are just as important as storage and integration. As analytics improves, agencies will be able to conduct the type of analyses that large carriers do today. With quality, customizable reporting, your agency can improve lead qualification and identify more ways to grow your current book of business. Analytics can also help improve your customer service, identifying areas of specific need so you can devote resources to address them.

Digital Sales and Marketing

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA)’s Independent Insurance Agent Survey found that over 64% of respondents said it’s “Very or Extremely Important” that their partners provide marketing and sales support. These agencies recognize that digitized sales and marketing are now essential for success. That doesn’t mean other marketing forms should go out the window; it simply means you need to diversify your efforts. A quality website, marketing automation to send targeted messaging, and a CRM to track individual sales journeys should all be in your agency sales and marketing toolbelt.

Personalized Customer Service

While your team can provide personalized service to a certain number of customers, it’s difficult for them to keep up once you hit hundreds or more. Digital customer service can help you provide that all-important personal service without your staff needing to work 24/7. Client portals are now expected among millennial and Gen Z insurance customers, giving them access to their plan information and the ability to update information and print insurance cards anytime. Texting is another quality tool that puts customers in direct connection with agents when needed, giving them the immediate, personal attention they expect.

Stay on Top of Insurance Software with Partner Platform and SIS

Our SIS team knows the value of identifying and investing in insurance technology. We work alongside our Partner Platform agencies and specialized tech partnerships to understand emerging needs in the industry before they become essential. Our Partner Platform integrations and updates are focused and beta tested, so they’re ready for our agencies to use immediately.

Our goal is to keep growing with and for our agencies for years and decades to come. Find out more about our capabilities, Partner Platform community, and proprietary tech partnerships at sispartnerplatform.com.

A Look at Exago: An Insurance Tech Partner Ally

A Look at Exago: An Insurance Tech Partner Ally

Part of what makes our Partner Platform agency management system and insurance CRM so robust is the partnerships we foster with insurance tech companies. Our Partner Allies specialize in their arenas, from esignatures to comparative rating and more, each Partner Ally hones their technology to serve agency needs.

Our Partnership with Exago and Exago BI

Today we highlight our longstanding partner, Exago. Exago specializes in building and delivering customized business insights with intuitive reporting and dashboards that anyone can use. After designing and implementing our own BI ad hoc reporting system, we found it too cumbersome and confusing for our Partner Platform agencies. Acting on our spirit of innovation and efficiency, the team knew it was time to look for an expert to work with and for our community.

Enter Exago and their Exago BI solution. They offered canned templates to make available in Partner Platform user libraries and allow users to adjust reports and dashboards in real-time as needed. Plus, Partner Platform users can create ad hoc, highly customized reporting and dashboards from scratch.

What Exago BI Brings to Partner Platform Agencies

In our search for a business insights tool, we knew we needed something that would adapt to our Partner Platform agencies’ unique needs. In Exago BI, we found a system that was:

  • Flexible with canned and ad hoc reporting and dashboard abilities
  • Easy to use so employees of all levels of tech and business understanding could create, manipulate, and read information
  • Web-based to integrate seamlessly with Partner Platform’s cloud-based system
  • Customizable to fit the varying needs of agencies of any size

Exago BI checked all the boxes. Plus, the people at Exago mirror the SIS and Partner Platform team: imaginative, resourceful, client-focused, and community-oriented. SIS CEO Alex Deak said it best:

When we decided to start our search for a business insights integration, we knew we were looking for a partner, not just a solution. After meeting with several different companies, Exago stood out. Everyone we met with had enthusiasm and drive. They were client-driven and relentless in finding the best solutions. Not only is their BI tool powerful and offers great features, but their people match its excellence. We’re happy with our partnership and look forward to success for years to come.

Learn More About Our Partnerships

The ingenuity and utility of Exago’s BI system are part of what makes the system a great fit for SIS and our Partner Platform agencies. The other part is the common culture we share. As Mike Brody, President & CEO at Exago, said:

SIS shares our client-first approach to product development, and it’s made them an ideal partner. We strive to provide the most user-friendly, self-service BI and reporting solution on the market, and that wouldn’t be possible without engaged clients like SIS. They’re always forthcoming with feedback and insight into their use cases. We look forward to a continued partnership.

Exago is an example of just one of the great companies we partner with here at SIS. These tech relationships are more than integrations with our Partner Platform system – they’re commitments from like-minded companies with diverse strengths working to serve mutual clients.

You can find out more about our Partner Allies, tech integration partners, and our other technology partnerships on our website here. And, you can read about our commitment to security with all our technology partners on sispartnerplatform.com.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: RPost

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: RPost

Our next “Behind Our Insurance Agency Software” series focuses on encrypted email and signature provider RPost. Based in Los Angeles, CA, the team at RPost operates in the U.S., the U.K., and more than 100 countries worldwide.

Formed in 1999, RPost filled an emerging need in online communications. While the convenience of email made it the dominant form of business communications, the team at RPost saw a worrying trend in email security. Organizations were sending sensitive information via the web and needed to protect it.

RPost stepped up to fill that gap between convenience and security, adding legal verification to email content and attachments through encryption technology. I talked with RPost’s VP of Business Development, Jake Finnell, about how RPost brought its powerful encrypted email and esignature services to SIS and the Partner Platform community.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

Our partnership started around 2013 thanks to mutual clients who saw a possible collaboration. They reached out to us and SIS, asking to integrate our services with the Partner Platform system. When we connected with the SIS team, we saw the opportunity – it was apparent that SIS’s clients needed a secure way to send and sign documents. After talking more with the SIS team, we knew they were someone we could work with; the drive to collaborate and innovate was there.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

Our partnership started around 2013 thanks to mutual clients who saw a possible collaboration. They reached out to us and SIS, asking to integrate our services with the Partner Platform system. When we connected with the SIS team, we saw the opportunity – it was apparent that SIS’s clients needed a secure way to send and sign documents. After talking more with the SIS team, we knew they were someone we could work with; the drive to collaborate and innovate was there.

What services do you provide for the Partner Platform customer base?

Initially, we integrated our RMail service with Partner Platform’s email integration. RMail provides HIPPA-compliant email security and encryption, allowing Partner Platform users to email documents with sensitive information to their clients. We recently expanded our services with our RSign esignature service. With RSign, Partner Platform agencies can send and receive secure, binding signatures on documents. This makes it easier for agencies to sign new business, update existing coverages, and process claims for their clients.

What prompted you to want to collaborate and integrate your technology with SIS and Partner Platform? Why did you feel the collaboration would be beneficial?

The market demand was strong. Partner Platform is a popular management system among independent agencies, and insurance agencies need better ways to send and receive the confidential documents they deal with daily. We’re excited to partner with the SIS team to provide this essential service to their agencies because they’re a great team to work with. 

What do Partner Platform clients like about RMail and RSign? What type of feedback do you hear?

We hear great feedback. Agents and brokers are constantly focused on revenue-generating activities, and the combination of “ease of use” and affordability are the top two comments we hear. That combination makes it easy for agencies to generate revenue rather than worry about security, compliance, and collaboration.

What has been your experience with the SIS/Partner Platform team so far?

The SIS team is highly responsive and constantly provides top-tier support and educational content for their customers. That combination is rare – we can see how we can grow together, continually improving our services.  

What emerging needs do you see for cybersecurity and insurance in the next 3-5 years?

Every day, we learn something new about how technology can help us and how it makes us vulnerable. Cyber threats and attackers are constantly evolving, and the insurance industry needs to evolve, too, to stay one step ahead. We’re focused on continually improving our services, and we know SIS is as well. Armed with SIS and RPost, insurance agents and brokers can keep ahead of these threats.  

——–

RPost is just one of our many Partner Allies that are committed to keeping our Partner Platform community connected and protected. Find out more about Partner Platform’s expanding capabilities and our other Partner Allies on our website at sispartnerplatform.com.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Archway Computer

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Archway Computer

In the latest of our “Behind Our Insurance Agency Software” series, we talk with Brad Ruben of IT services provider Archway Computer. Archway has been one of our industry partners for years, and we rely on Brad and his team to keep us and our community up-to-date on the latest insurtech and cybersecurity.

Brad Ruben has been working with insurance agnecy software since 1985, when he first helped a family friend install and run a Coast Premium Rater software as part of the friend’s insurance business. Since then, Brad founded Archway Computers to help independent agencies get the best insurtech and IT support at a price they can afford.

I talked with Brad about Archway’s partnership with SIS and the Partner Platform community, aiding agencies with IT services and providing expert consultation around insurtech and security.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

We had a mutual client who told me about SIS and Partner Platform. There was a definite connection around personalized service and commitment to innovation. Once I met with SIS President Michael Doran, we immediately hit it off and have been working together ever since.

We had a mutual client who told me about SIS and Partner Platform. There was a definite connection around personalized service and commitment to innovation. Once I met with SIS President Michael Doran, we immediately hit it off and have been working together ever since.

We get great feedback from our Partner Platform clients about how SIS and the team support them, which we love to see in any insurance technology provider. However, what really stands out is the seamless sales and marketing integrations SIS provides in Partner Platform. That’s something few agency management systems do well.

What services do you provide for SIS and the Partner Platform customer base?

Archway Computer provides managed IT services exclusively for independent insurance agencies. That means keeping their information secure and their technology compliant with cyber regulations in their state. Small and mid-sized agencies usually cannot afford a full-time IT person, and their local IT company knows nothing about insurance technology. So, we’re a great fit for the independent agencies in the Partner Platform community.

Beyond being a preferred IT service provider for Partner Platform agencies, we also provide educational opportunities for the broader Partner Platform and SIS community. We’ve been part of numerous national conferences and hosted cybersecurity webinars for the community. We’re a comprehensive IT resource for SIS and its Partner Platform agencies.

We’ve been lucky to work with SIS for years, establishing a solid relationship. As cybersecurity and compliance issues grow, our partnership is that much more important. Partner Platform understands that having a digital presence and working from anywhere are vital issues for their agencies. Working with us, they can help agencies grow while keeping them protected from cyber vulnerabilities.

You have a unique value proposition that aligns with independent agents (as does Partner). How do independent agents benefit from working with you versus a big-name provider?

Independent agents need someone who already understands the technology they’re using and how to make it work better for them. Larger IT firms just don’t know insurtech and take a long time to get up to speed. Agencies love that we’re knowledgeable, responsive, and hands-on right from the start.

Also, we’re not selling them anything they don’t need. Insurtech software providers will often sell their IT services alongside their tech and then constantly try to upsell. We’re a neutral party that fairly evaluates agency tech without a stake in the game. Our only goal is to keep agencies efficient and protected.

What has been your experience with the SIS/Partner Platform team so far?

We love the SIS team. All our mutual clients experience excellent customer service from them, and we know they’re always working for the client’s best interest, just like us. It’s been great sharing our expertise with the Partner Platform community, including the staff at SIS, who integrate our expertise into their software.

Plus, the Partner Platform team are just all-around great as people. We look forward to getting to meet face-to-face again at the next convention.

——–

Our Partner Allies like Archway Computer provide invaluable insights into tech advances and how to keep our Partner Platform community connected and protected. You can learn more about Brad and his team at myarchway.com, and see the remote work tips Brad shared with us on our blog

Find out more about Partner Platform’s expanding capabilities and our other Partner Allies on our website at sispartnerplatform.com.