The COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 left a lasting impact on the world, including how we do business. Quarantine and frequent lockdowns forced us to stay home, and the changes in customer expectations, work environments, and operations remain today.
Insurance agencies that weathered these changes have a few things in common. For one, they had the right insurance software to make the quick transition to remote work and service. Secondly, they have an enduring attitude of being open to change and a readiness to adapt. While we cannot predict what will disrupt the market next, we can use these markers to prepare with the right mindset, tools, and systems for the next unexpected interruption.
1. Adapting Your Systems
It’s impossible to overemphasize the need for an agency-wide digital insurance experience. That includes leveraging digital marketing through areas like social media, email marketing, and your website. In addition, include digital access options for both your customers and your staff. Offer eSignatures for document signing, employ digital form fills, digital document storing, and digital payments. These systems are essential for the modern agency to stay relevant to clients, increase ease of doing business, and continue growth.
Another system to embrace is remote work. Remote
work was essential during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and it remains valuable
today. Many employees expect remote working options, and experience shows
remote work can be just as, or more, effective as in-office work.
2. Leveraging the Right Tools
Many new insurance software tools became standard during the 2020 lockdowns. One type was virtual communication tools like online meeting platforms, chats, and online customer service portals. Customers expect to be able to get in touch with you via one or all of these methods. Alongside these digital communication tools, pay attention to your internet connections. Ensure you have reliable, high-speed service to keep connected at all times.
Besides communication tools, your agency also needs marketing automation and a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to better track and engage with customers and prospects. Marketing automation directly feeds new customer expectations with frequent and personalized messaging. A CRM gives you a better picture of who your customers are and how you can grow your book of business. Both these tools are now standard in the insurance software space.
3. Getting in a Growth Mindset
One of the biggest hurdles is shaping a new agency mindset. Adapting to change isn’t easy, but if you can set up a “change happens and creates opportunities” attitude, you can make it that much easier to move to something new. Work with your team to keep them open to change, including getting them involved in decisions around adding new tech and systems to your agency. The more your staff feels a part of the “something new,” the more likely they will participate in it.
Another great way to keep your team ready for change is to provide learning opportunities throughout the year. Expose them to changes in the industry and educate them, so they feel more comfortable with new technology or operation styles.
Find out more about how we challenge the status quo, adapting with and for our Partner Platform agencies to ready them for whatever comes next. Get in touch at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6, to view a demo and talk with one of our team today.
Since our founding, the Partner Platform Community has grown exponentially. What started as a group of agencies and dedicated staff has exploded to contain much more. One of those additions is our group of Partner Allies. This team of insurance agency software providers started as a collection of exciting integration possibilities and grew into an ever-expanding coalition of cutting-edge insurance tech.
Each of our Partner Allies grew from individual relationships. Whether it was a Partner Platform agency owner or SIS team member making the connection, each formed from a common connection: a drive to serve our agency customers. Initially called “tech integrations,” the term seemed too thin for what these partnerships brought to the table, so we soon changed to “Partner Allies” to better capture the relationships.
What Makes Partner Allies Unique
Beyond their associates and clients, one of the
hallmarks of great companies is the providers they collaborate with to create
meaningful client experiences. Some of those relationships are designed to be
solid, easy-to-use integrations that “do the job.” And we have many of those. But
Partner Allies are the relationships built to go beyond “doing the job.” Our
Partner Allies offer unique and valuable experiences that make the lives of our
clients easier, more productive, and, in the best of situations, more
Some of our recent Partner Ally additions include:
Semsee (Commercial Lines Rating)
Semsee recently joined our Partner Allies team with a critical tool for rating small commercial. With commercial lines rating in its infancy, Semsee has created a strong product with an increasingly strong carrier lineup. Along with being easy to do business with, the Semsee team created a nicely designed product that offers the solid capabilities our Partner Platform agencies need to stay competitive.
BlueJay Reviews is built for agencies that want to quickly and easily understand and manage their online reputation. Reviews are out there whether an agency sees them or not, and BlueJay helps those reviews become visible. The automated process asks for reviews following client interactions. If the review is good, the agency can post it automatically in various online forums. If the review isn’t positive, the agency is notified, providing a chance to turn around a situation with an unhappy client.
DataCrest (Digital Forms & Supplemental
DataCrest created a digital forms product called AppEase, giving agencies the ability to manage supplemental applications easily. The intuitive, affordable product continues to expand in available applications. Our Partner Platform agencies find this versatile tool is a game-changer and, if they can’t find an application they need, DataCrest will add it to the system. That dynamic nature is critical in our ever-expanding digital landscape.
…With Room to Grow
These are three of what is an outstanding lineup of
providers that include eSignature, VoIP, digital payments, encrypted email, and
more. And it’s just the start of our growing partnerships.
Many of our Partner Ally connections grew from our best advocates, one of our Partner Platform agencies. If you have a tech integration you’d like to see in the Partner Platform system or any other comments or questions, get in touch with us at 800.747.7005, Option 6 or [email protected]
The community we created echoes that partnership: it’s fueled by innovative collaborators in our agency, technology, and industry partners. With their help, we’re able to stay ahead of the curve and equip our Partner Platform agency management system and insurance CRM to harness future opportunities while providing the service and care our agency customers appreciate today.
Our innovative community includes:
The Partner Platform User Community
Platform User Community is at the heart of everything we do. Partner
Platform users stay engaged with one another through Regional Learning
Workshops, monthly webinars, and access to always available online
resources. We address frequently asked questions in each arena and hear agency
insights on improving operations and maximizing recent system enhancements and
The Partner Platform Board
As part of the Partner Platform User Community, we
have ten individuals representing agencies across the country on our Partner Platform Board. This Board
meets quarterly, once in person and three times virtually. Each meeting covers industry
events, direction of the Partner Platform system, common agency issues, and
how we can continue collaborating to improve every aspect of agency life.
This regular, direct input from agency owners and operational managers is
critical to shaping the Partner Platform system.
To best address our Partner Platform agencies’
needs, we need the best technology partnerships. That’s when we turn
to our Partner Allies, a group of technology partners that bring innovation
and expertise to the Partner Platform system.
Each Partner Ally connection is born out of a
relationship. Whether we’re connected by a Partner Platform agency, another
Partner Ally, or other means, each Partner Ally comes to us because they have a
unique value to our agencies. Aspects of the relationship include technical
discussions, improving how we support our shared clients and discussing
Partner Platform Industry Partners
Along with our technical-focused Partner Allies, we
also foster strong connections with valuable
insurance industry groups. These groups are constantly looking to the
future and have a first-hand view of coming agency challenges and
opportunities. We look to these industry partners for input and advice on improving
customer experience, streamlining operations, and keeping our Partner Platform
agencies equipped for the future.
We are active members of ACT, AUGIE, ACORD,
IVANS, and many other industry groups that bring agents, vendors, and
carriers together to promote standards and the betterment of the industry.
Discover More About Our Community Today
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our Partner
Platform Community, it’s that the more perspectives we have, the better we can
be. Learn more about how you can add your agency’s voice to our community: get in touch at 800.747.7005,
Option 6, or [email protected].
How did the COVID-19 pandemic change your insurance
Most agencies are emerging from pandemic lockdown with
their business still healthy – perhaps even healthier for those that benefitted
from restrictions that reduced claims. An agency that emerges from such an
immediate and drastic change with economic strength speaks to their resilience
While financial health is one measurement of the
overall business, strategic health is another. Given the challenges over the
last year, you likely had meaningful conversations with business partners or
significant others about ways to strengthen your independent agency for the
long-term. These forward-thinking conversations are a testament to your
Some considerations to add to your reflection include:
How well did we adapt to shifting work from the office to
How did the shift affect associate productivity and
How did our client experience change?
How did the shift impact agency team culture?
What did we learn about client experience and expectations?
When everything was no longer in person, how did
that impact results like retention and new business?
What new technologies (beyond Zoom) were
highlights for supporting clients?
As we head back to the office, how is the agency
operating differently to improve results?
Over this past year of transitions, we on the
Partner Platform team learned our independent agency clients are adaptable and
nimble. We saw many agencies promote leadership at the top of the agency and in
key “on the ground” roles to meet adversity and find ways to become more
valuable to clients. That ability to rise to the occasion and work as a
team is what sets our Partner Platform clients apart.
Some of the meaningful changes we witnessed among
the Partner Platform client base included:
Commitment to Learning
We saw an openness and willingness to learn at all
levels, including owners. Those working directly with clients, like CSRs
and producers, attended more of our Partner Platform webinars, eager to improve
how they respond to clients. Owners leaned into how to understand the
health of their agency better. And more agencies praised the simplicity of
the Partner Platform dashboards, helping them access key client information as
soon as they log in.
As the stay-at-home orders began to lengthen, we
saw our agency
customer portals, agency-branded
mobile apps, and agency
website design services more rapidly adopted. Agencies were concerned
about how to strengthen the client relationship during this time of distance,
but these features quickly eliminated that fear. Our agencies now had multiple
ways to serve clients with information affordably.
Everything from auto ID cards to certificates and
policy information was easy for clients to access and understand. We heard
from our clients that the insured appreciated the convenience, and these tools caused
clients to view their agency as progressive and personal – a nice
With cloud access, agencies seamlessly moved from in-office
to at-home work without interrupting service. However, some agencies using
in-house systems or even terminal services (sometimes called VPN) found
themselves scattered as they needed to transition to an at-home system.
Too often, they ended up with cloud access that was slow, clunky, and too
disconnected from their main desktop, causing productivity issues. For
agencies like our Partner Platform clients, having a reliable cloud-based
system in place made the transition less stressful and more efficient.
Overall, amidst an unknown crisis, the independent
agent channel rose to the occasion. While there’s still work to do, those
who criticize the independent agent channel for their inability to adapt should
slow down and pay attention.
We’re proud of all our Partner Platform agencies for
taking care of their clients and team during such a challenging period.
Keep up the great work – and we look forward to how we can tackle the
challenges and opportunities of the future.
On a global scale, 2020 has been extremely challenging. The crises of this year have impacted each of us at a personal level. Whether it’s the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, an unstable economy, or divisive politics, we all had to sort our way through this year in unique circumstances. But we have all gotten through it – thanks to enduring support.
Your insurance agency marketing goal is to stand out among the noise. Identifying and investing in serving a niche market is one of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve this challenging goal.
When you serve a niche market, you have less competition, making it easier to gain new customers in a specific arena. Your agency is set apart as providing “X” type of insurance, making you distinctive. PIA National’s 2022 Independent Agent Survey found that respondents devoted more than 20% of their book of business to a niche market. You, too, can capitalize on this valuable strategy.
Over the past few years, there has been a surge in insurance agency management transitions. Mergers and acquisitions specifically are on the rise, with an estimated 550 deals, up 12% from the previous year, in the first quarter of 2021. While these transitions can be profitable for owners, they can come with significant trepidation and worry from employees and customers.
As an owner, you need to start thinking ahead about how to prepare your agency for its eventual ownership transition. Whether you plan to perpetuate internally or externally, it’s essential that you prepare. That preparation includes setting your agency up for its highest valuation, prepping your team, and investing in tools and processes to bring your agency into the future.
Good partners and partnerships are critical to success in any business, but it’s crucial in technology where the pace of change and breadth of innovation is high. Insurance tech is growing fast, and it’s critical to look to progressive partners to keep up with the pace.
Why Partnerships Matter
Innovations happen everywhere, every day. Things like electric cars, an increase in IoT, the interconnectedness of tech systems in healthcare and our own homes, and other innovations significantly impact our industry. These tech advances inform how insurers can gain data to inform policies and process claims.