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Behind the Scenes: Partner XE Community Workgroups

Behind the Scenes: Partner XE Community Workgroups

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 blee@sispartnerplatform.com. Or, to join the team of Partner XE agencies, contact one of our team members at sales@sisware.com

Insurance Industry Groups to Join and Why

Insurance Industry Groups to Join and Why

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 sales@sisware.com or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

The Number One Way to Improve Insurance Agency Management

The Number One Way to Improve Insurance Agency Management

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 sales@sisware.com. We look forward to hearing from you and targeting how we can help your agency better serve your community.

Insurance Customer Service Tools: Utilizing a Client Self-Service Portal

Insurance Customer Service Tools: Utilizing a Client Self-Service Portal

I’ve been working with our partner agencies on the best ways to deliver insurance customer service for almost ten years. In that time, I’ve seen trends rise and fall, and some morph into the “new normal” for insurance providers. The latest in those trends turned expectation is the customer portal.

Why you need a client portal

A website alone is no longer enough for your policy holders. Your customers now expect your website to give them access to their account, anytime, anywhere they can connect to the internet. They’re looking for a portal that gives them access to policy and claims information, proof of insurance, and the ability to update their contact info among other elements.

I’ve encountered agencies who’ve won and lost business based on having (or not having) a client portal.

Discover more elements that make your website a sales and service resource

What it should offer: Personal Lines

What’s worse than not having a client portal? Jumping into one without the right elements. When planning out your agency’s client portal, be sure to include access to:

  • Policy lists with driver and vehicle information
  • Claims information and statuses
  • Auto ID cards and proof of insurance forms
  • Company generated declaration pages

Check out other essential tools for your agency

What it should offer: Commercial Lines

Client portals aren’t just for individuals. Commercial lines customers are looking for this anytime access, too. They’ll look for the same elements as personal lines customers, plus:

  • Ability to easily access policy information and generate auto ID cards
  • Clearly defined claims information and status updates
  • Quick access to agency contact information
  • Access to certificates of insurance and certificate holder lists*
  • Ability to create new holder certificates based off agency-approved templates

*This is especially important for large accounts and trucking companies requiring quick certificates issuing at all hours of the day.

Keep commercial lines clients happy with commercial lines downloads

What it should offer: Your Agency

Because a client portal serves your agency too, there are also considerations to take on your end. The client portal should offer your agency a well-rounded list of permissions to allow or not allow certain users from being able to view/print/issue all of the different features above. And, as with any aspect of your agency that deals with client data, it should work well with your management system.

At SIS, we’ve been working on our client portal offering, focusing on how we can help our agencies better serve their commercial and personal lines customers. We’ve worked with our partner agencies to add the most essential client portal elements and are piloting the portal with a few agencies this summer. We look forward to hearing from these agencies as we work to roll out the portal to all Partner XE users later this year.

This is just the start. As we continue to connect with our users, we will have additional enhancements based on their needs. You can read more about what Partner XE can offer your agency here. Then, get in touch with us to talk about how we can partner with your agency for success.

Partner XE 2017 Enhancements – Where They Came from and Why

Partner XE 2017 Enhancements – Where They Came from and Why

We at SIS are proud to roll out our latest management system update with Partner XE 2017. We continue to challenge the status quo with this latest release, and the origin of each enhancement resonates that sentiment.

We’ve said it time and again, but it bears repeating that each Partner XE update comes right from our clients. Here’s the story behind some of the elements in our latest release:

FLOOD Personal and Commercial Lines Support

This policy build came from Partner XE agencies who support a significant number of FLOOD policies. Our team found all-policy information support from FLOOD carriers would improve policy processes for these agencies and improve their client service. It was a no-brainer to add such support.

We worked with these agencies to tailor the update to their needs. Beyond adding support for policy details and download, we addressed process and workflow to best support agencies selling and serving FLOOD policies.

Find out more about what Partner XE offers agencies

New Production Analysis Reports

These new reports came out of the Partner XE community Accounting and Reporting Workgroups. Such workgroups bring agencies together to talk about how Partner XE works for them and provide critical feedback on improvements. Workgroup members tested each report, provided feedback, and ultimately decided on the best format to release to the Partner XE community.

Hide Employee Feature

This update came from our new clients, many of whom kept seeing old employees in their database after conversion. Our team added the ability to hide employees to better the implementation process and overall Partner XE experience.

IVANS Market Appetite Integration

Partner XE users already benefit from integration with the IVANS Transformation Station, but we continue to hear a call for further IVANS connections. We’ve boosted that connection by adding IVANS’s Market Appetite feature. This new product helps agencies identify carriers outside their preferred network, offering different risk protection. This expansion in coverage options means more choice for customers and more business for our clients.

Hear from some of our clients about their Partner XE experience

Service Team Inspired Updates

Many of our updates came right from our service team, who are committed to giving Partner XE users a smooth experience. Our team is always watching for ways to streamline daily transactions and eliminate clicks, ensuring Partner XE is easier and more efficient to use. Based on their daily interactions with the Partner XE community, the team identified enhancements to make users’ lives easier. Some of these improvements include:

  • Updated ACORD forms
  • Revamped Notes & To Do Lists
  • Enhanced existing reports
  • Improved RealTime functions, including endorsement bridging

We know that when it comes to your agency management system, every click counts. Our goal is to continually make Partner XE faster, smarter, and easier, eliminating as many clicks as possible. To find out more about SIS and our Partner XE community, connect with us at sales@sisware.com or 800.747.7005, Option 6.