If you’ve been in the business for a while, you’ve seen communication methods evolve. From in-person meetings to phone calls to email, the methods for staying in touch with customers have changed throughout the years. The most recent evolution is texting – a technique used for insurance customer retention and prospecting alike.
Yet, with all new technology, challenges go hand-in-hand with benefits.
Texting Problem #1: Capturing the Conversation
Texting transmits information quickly and can get business done fast, but these interactions are difficult to capture. Many agencies struggle to save such valuable conversations in their management system as a permanent record.
Similar to email, customers text outside of business hours, meaning most conversations are on a personal cell phone or tablet. In these instances, the agent needs to remember to screenshot their exchange, email it to themselves, and attach the screenshots to their management system the next day. This is a cumbersome process, giving agency owners serious concerns about E&O exposures.
Though third-party solutions are available, even these are limited. Some require to text using email – an equally cumbersome process. Suffice to say too often precious customer data is lost during a text exchange.
Gain best practices for capturing communication in your agency management system here
Texting Problem #2: Opting Out
Many agencies have adopted highly effective mass texting to prospects and clients. Though these methods yield great results, there is concern around allowing recipients to opt-out of receiving messages.
Similar to emails, if the recipient no longer wants to be sent content, the agency must offer and track opt-outs. Most email systems are set for opt-outs but with texting it is not so easy. And, once appropriate language is created, it can be challenging to remember to include the required opt-out language at the end of each text. Such barriers can cause an agency to forgo texting altogether.
Find out how to ramp up your agency messaging in our Improving Agency Communications eGuide
The Partner XE Texting Solution
At SIS, we know these texting issues well. That’s why, with input from our partner agencies, we’ve put together the best solutions in our Partner XE agency management system.
With Partner XE, users can text right from the system, saving each conversation automatically. Texts can be sent manually at any time, or marketing texts can be scheduled to be sent to a list of recipients in the future. Plus, we automatically add opt-out reminders, making it easy for the recipient to reply “STOP” to stop receiving text messages moving forward.
Get best practices on texting in ACT’s best practices guide for independent agencies
In fact, Partner XE will automatically check the opt-out box for clients and prospects when they opt-out of messages. Then, if a marketing text is scheduled, Partner XE will skip over them and not send the message to that user.
There are a lot of agencies in the market that would like to leverage texting but are held back with these issues. Or, they just don’t feel comfortable using such new technology. We can help. Get in touch with us today at email@example.com or 800.747.7005, Option 6 to learn more.
Reports are the window to your agency’s future. They tell you where you’re performing well and highlight areas to improve. And, since all your agency data is stored in your management system, they’re easy to obtain.
If you’re just getting started with reports, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. So, we’ve come up with the top reports you need to run to measure your sales success.
Start with Your Data
First things first: data coming out is only as good as data coming in. To get useful reports, you must establish insurance agency workflow procedures around data entry.
Work with your team to make data entry uniform across the agency. Discuss best practices around creating customer profiles and recording information. It’s important to ensure all policies have information – like producer, CSR, and premium amounts – assigned appropriately. Policies must be accurate and up-to-date every day to guarantee precise, clean data for accurate reports.
Cut down on data entry by using integrated systems in your agency
1.) Sales Reports
Reports: Sales Pipeline, Win/Loss Ratio, and Sales Production Reports
These reports answer a number of questions, such as:
- Where is your sales team winning and why?
- What opportunities are you not winning and where is that business ending up?
- What industries/markets is your agency succeeding in and how do you focus on growing that book of business?
Another less obvious but impactful report is an Activity report, showing where your sales team is spending their time. If you’re not tracking sales team activities in your agency, it’s time to start.
Check out these tips on how to create a winning sales team in your agency
2.) Current Business Reports
Reports: Book of Business and Production Reports
Your management system should give you a clear picture of your existing business, including breaking down by the following:
- Policies by Carrier
- Line of Business
- By Personal, Commercial, and Benefits
You can also gain current business insights by viewing CSR activities and workload by carrier, line of business, policy type, etc. Reports like these can help with managing staff, telling you which CSRs or account managers have heavier workloads than others.
3.) Financial Reports
Reports: Balance Sheet and Income Statements
As you may have guessed, accounting reports are critical for understanding success as it pertains to the agency’s bottom and top line. These reports should be clean and easy to read and review with your bookkeepers and CPAs. Financial reports tell you where money is being spent and where money is being made, helping you determine how to best use funds and investments
Find out if you’re making the most of your insurance agency accounting data on our blog
4.) Activity Reports
Reports: Activity reports by staff and customer
Activity reports can tell you if: 1) your team is spending their time effectively and 2) if they’re spending it with the right clients. Use activity reports to see if VIPs are getting the attention they deserve and if too much effort is put into leads that go nowhere.
Client portals are a great way to capture customer activities, giving insight into what customers need and how they’re interacting with your agency.
Get All the Tools You Need in One System
Getting good reports has a lot to do with the tools you use to gather data. That’s why we’ve made our Partner XE agency management system so data-friendly, with integrated accounting and email systems, a Client Portal plug-in, and our Producer Results Manager and Marketing Automation Manager to help agencies track all the essential data they need in one system.
Get the full details on how Partner XE makes reporting easy. Schedule a demo and get in touch with an SIS team member today.
At SIS, Partner is who we are, and Community is how we work. Our Partner XE Workgroups are a hallmark of that community. These groups provide critical feedback on Partner XE updates and help shape our Partner XE management system into the versatile, efficient tool our agencies need.
Today we’ll take a look behind the scenes of this invaluable part of the Partner XE Community.
Find out more about the Partner XE User Community here
Who are part of the Partner XE Workgroups?
Workgroup membership is open to anyone in a Partner XE agency. Comprised of a mix of veterans and newcomers, representatives from Partner XE agencies elect to join a Workgroup focusing on a specific area in the Partner XE system.
Each group contains 8-10 members who meet quarterly, sharing ideas and coming up with practical solutions to improve Partner XE and the Partner XE Community.
What happens in a Workgroup?
Each Workgroup hones in on a specific area, such as Accounting, Mobile, or Commercial Lines. Recently, we’ve focused on our CRM and Marketing Automation products, coming in Fall 2018.
Check out our most recent product release, the Partner XE Client Portal
Our Workgroups started as conference calls, with one member taking and sharing notes. But, we found large group conversations didn’t offer enough time for each agency to share their thoughts. So, in true SIS fashion, we innovated and started focused calls with each Workgroup member agency.
In each call, the SIS team shares screens and walks through Partner XE enhancements and updates with Workgroup members, getting their opinions along the way. Then, we follow up with screenshots of improvement mock-ups for another round of feedback before making live changes. Through this process, we ensure each Partner XE update is agency tested and approved.
Get an inside look at Partner XE by viewing a demo today!
Why have Partner XE Workgroups?
The answer is simple: Partner XE agencies are the authorities on what they need to serve their clients and grow their agency. Each Partner XE update is based on these specific needs. Some examples of enhancements that came out of Workgroups are:
- Certificate Management enhancement
- Document Management system
- Policy Details screen updates
Upcoming development projects from Workgroups include:
- CRM and Marketing Automation products
- Claims Management updates
- Attaching documents to activities
- And more to come in Partner XE 2018.3 this Fall!
Curious to know more about the Partner XE Workgroups and how you can get involved? Contact me, SIS Director of Product Management, Bryce Lee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, to join the team of Partner XE agencies, contact one of our team members at email@example.com
I’m always keeping a pulse on insurance industry resources. It’s part of my daily routine: a cup of coffee and my favorite blogs, twitter handles, or podcasts help me stay in the know on what’s happening in the independent insurance universe.
Though these online resources are great, it’s even better when I can get together with other industry professionals to exchange ideas and encourage progress. With industry groups, I get daily updates and in-person meetings through conferences and other events.
We at SIS participate in many influential industry groups. Below are a few of our “must joins” for those looking to stay connected in insurance.
Get online industry resources to add to your daily routine
The Partner XE User Community
The Partner XE User Community is made up of all our Partner XE users. One of the main goals of this community is to shape the future of the Partner XE management system. In this user community, agents can access the product roadmap and understand what SIS has planned for upcoming releases.
Agencies can also communicate what they’d like to see changed or improved in the Partner XE system. Improvements could be a change in workflow, an additional feature or enhancement to an existing feature, or an integration with a third-party product their agency is using or would like to use.
The Partner XE Community also has an active User Board made up of nine agencies from across the United States. Board member are great contacts for Partner XE users to voice their ideas for improvements or about questions regarding how to maximize system use.
Access tips on how to maximize your agency management system
Agents Council for Technology (ACT)
Led by Executive Director Ron Berg, Agents Council for Technology (ACT) is an essential group for agents to keep up with technological advancements, and their risks, in the industry. ACT has several simultaneous workgroups running focused on disaster planning for agency owners, security best practices, changing nature of risk, new technologies, and much more.
The organization also holds in-person meetings throughout the year, usually tied to a Solution Providers User Group conference. The ACT group is made up of agents, solutions providers (i.e. agency management systems, esignature companies, and VOIP), carrier representatives and industry influencers.
Read about other resources to improve your operations
Associations and User Groups Information Exchange (AUGIE)
The Associations and User Group Information Exchange (AUGIE) was created to “bring together industry leaders and create a focus on insurance industry efforts”, with a specific attention to independent agents and brokers. AUGIE brings together carriers, agents, and management system providers to create a hub for innovation and improvement.
AUGIE always has an eye on market changes. It prioritizes a few key areas, including eDocs and Messages Download, claims download, and commercial lines download. Partner agents can attend bi-annual meetings and participate in workgroups focused on technology and interactions with insurance carriers. It’s a great organization for agencies looking to maximize technologies available in the industry.
SIS as an Industry Leader
No man is an island: nor should any insurance industry service provider operate alone! We at SIS are highly involved with the above industry groups, including sponsoring and actively participating in AUGIE’s Advisory Board since 1995. We feel it’s important to interface regularly with other industry players; it helps us stay hungry and independent.
Check out our full list of industry partners on our Industry Partners page. Want to learn more about how we connect and collaborate for continual improvements? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.747.7005, Option 6.
Summertime is a season of slowing down: school is out, vacations are on, and many industries experience a lull in customer activity. That makes summer the perfect time to reassess your insurance agency management.
But our agency is doing fine. Why would we reevaluate our processes?
Your answer is right there: you’re doing “fine.” “Fine” is not going to help you compete with the threat of direct writers and tech-savvy companies like Lemonade, Geico, and The General. These competitors will find your efficiency flaws and exploit them to win business over you.
All too often I hear:
“We’re too busy to implement change.”
“Our staff doesn’t have the time.”
“Our staff is comfortable with the way they do things. They’ve always done them that way.”
Check out 4 easy steps that will also help you improve agency operations
These defenses lead to agencies falling behind. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace. There are better ways to get work done and service clients. For example, carriers improve their agency services frequently. They provide updates to their agent portals, adding policies or lines of business for download, and offering new services like commercial lines rating. Agencies need to take advantage of these new technologies to stay competitive and offer the best experience for their clients.
Okay, you convinced me. So, how do we go about updating our processes and technology usage? What do we look for?
There are a few key areas and items to pay attention to during your annual agency review. Focus on the following questions:
What are our agency management system’s capabilities? Are we maximizing use?
Chances are, you’re not using your system to its full capacity. Look closely at your capabilities and focus on one or two you’re not utilizing. Reach out to your provider to get a refresher and integrate these capabilities into your daily operations.
What are our overall system fees? Are they going up? Staying the same?
Some providers will increase your fees annually, including charging for functions that should be standard. Pay attention to whether these increases are worth it for your agency. If not, it’s time to start looking for something new.
See the recipe for getting the most out of your management system
Are we downloading policies available from our carriers?
Commercial and personal lines downloads are one of the top time-saving practices for independent insurance agencies. If you are using downloads, check that you’re downloading all you can. The IVANS exchange offers a Connections Report to confirm you’re receiving all the downloads your carriers offer.
Do we utilize a comparative rater? Are we using it enough to justify the cost?
Comparative raters are another great time-saving tool. But, many agencies are paying a lot for a rater they rarely use. A good solution is using a rater that integrates with your management system. When everything is in one place, you’re much more likely to use it and reap the benefits.
Read how the Partner XE user Community fosters discussion on improving management system operations at our Regional Learnings
Are each of our staff using our management system efficiently? Have they adapted their workflows as our system is updated?
Too often individuals will continue doing their work in the same old way after a system update. They’ll ignore upgrades and enhancements because they’re not comfortable using them. Get staff connected with online training or schedule in-person sessions through your provider. Sometimes it takes a little push to adjust routines, and once your staff is confident in utilizing capabilities they’ll put them to use.
Wow – that seems like a lot of work. Is there anyone I can work with to make these changes?
Yes! Engage your staff in identifying and implementing these operational updates. Your agency management system provider should also act as a partner. They can help you fully utilize your system and expose you to relevant tools for improving operations.
At SIS, we use tools like monthly webinars, online QuickGuides and hands-on Regional Learnings to stay engaged with our partner agencies. Our conversations with Partner XE users not only help agencies better utilize the system, they help us improve functionality and workflows.
You can find out more about Partner XE’s functionality and how we partner with our clients by contacting us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you and targeting how we can help your agency better serve your community.