Keeping up with customer requests can seem like a never-ending task. But, there are tools out there to help the independent insurance agency minimize time spent and maximize customer service. We asked the experts at SIS to share some of the best tools for boosting agency efficiency. One of the top tools to come to mind: comparative raters.
You may have heard the term tossed around, but what exactly is a comparative rater? These online-based tools quickly compare carrier rates. Think of Hotels.com or even Amazon and their price comparison tools. Comparative raters do the same for your customers’ potential policies. After entering some basic data, you instantly receive accurate policy quotes from your carriers in an easy-to-digest format.
The information you enter is housed in your agency management system, and many offer the option to integrate with a rater directly. With an integrated rater, you can either source data from your management system into the rater or start with the rater and flow policy information into your system if you win business.
The instant nature of comparative raters saves you hours of rate hunting. The time saving alone is huge. Another benefit is the accuracy of each quote. Carriers update their rates regularly, so you know you’re always giving your customers the most up-to-date info. [bctt tweet=”And #comparative #raters help you meet your customer and prospect needs faster.” username=””]
How do I get started?
Fortunately for you, comparative raters make it easy to get started. They’re accessible online and allow monthly pricing options. Or, if it’s offered, you can opt for integration with your management systems. SIS’s Partner XE is compatible with many different raters. We work with users to integrate their rater of choice into our customizable management system.
Find out more!
Find more great tools and tips to maximize agency efficiency at sispartnerplatform.com. Check out our comprehensive online guides, covering how to manage agency change, improve operations, and harness the latest industry technology. Or get in touch with us to see if our Partner XE agency management system may be the #1 tool you’re missing.
The savvy small business is owner is always working to improve operations. Whether it’s boosting customer retention, reducing process time, or another small move that makes a big difference, the biggest hitch is coming up with that “new and improved” method. Where can you go to get inspired?
One of the best ways to gain new business perspectives is to talk with other professions. And the best place to connect is online. Insurance agency websites, blogs, and other online resources instantly connect you with countless industry professionals. Below is a list of the reliable, up-to-date, and relevant online agencies resources to help infuse your agency with inspiration.
Top Independent Insurance Agency Websites
Check out these top independent insurance agency websites and bookmark each for future use:
Agent Council for Technology (ACT) This open forum group offers targeted content on industry tech. Through podcasts, webinars, and other online mediums, ACT addresses workflow issues facing independent agencies. Check out their site for info on marketing, cyber security, customer experience, and other relevant technology-focused topics.
Property Casualty 360 From the experts at the National Underwriter Professional Network this news resource targets buyers and sellers in property and casualty insurance markets. P&C 360 relies on market data and industry trends to drive their content. Topics include compliance and legal updates, continuing education opportunities, and industry news.
Get tips on how to make your agency website a top resource for your customers
Insurance Journal Insurance Journal is one site with multiple information streams: blogs, videos, podcasts, and newsletters among other resources. The site covers breaking industry news and provides award-winning commentary on insurance market trends.
Recommended Agency Blogs
Another great resource is agent and agency blogs. Some notable industry blogs include:
SteveAnderson A long-time industry thought leader, Anderson has been a licensed independent agent for 30 years. He provides engaging, insightful information on technology trends to improve operations and boost an agency’s bottom line. Through frequent posts, podcasts and his Steve Anderson’s TechTips newsletter, Anderson speaks directly to agency needs.
BizzGrizz Brent Kelly is a speaker, trainer, and coach with 15 years’ experience in the insurance industry. His blog focuses on topics to engage agencies in leadership, communication, and growth. He is a frequent contributor to Property Casualty 360 and other well-respected industry publications.
The SIS Blog We may be biased, but we work hard to ensure we’re up to date on industry trends and provide engaging content for independent insurance agencies. Our posts, eGuides, and other resources come from conversations with our clients, ensuring we’re hitting what matters to agencies From cyber security to customer engagement, we make an efforts to provide variety, clarity, and relevance.
What did we miss?
This list only scratches the surface on valuable online agency resources. Let us know what we missed! Contact us to share your favorite sites. We’ll update our list as it grows through your suggestions.
“Cyber security” and “cloud storage” may seem like buzzwords, but both are more than just phrases – they are critical to agency operations and insurance data protection.
Data is your agency’s most valuable asset. Customer data, policy data, data on your gains and losses, and other critical pieces are the fuel on which your agency operates. You need to protect this data, and easily access it to keep your agency moving.
Why Cloud Storage?
It may be counter-intuitive that your agency’s data is safer “so far away” with an offsite cloud computing provider. But, in our super-connected world, it is never more than a click away. In reality, housing data offsite heightens its protection. Cloud providers specialize in securing and processing data, meaning your agency’s valuable information is in the safe hands of experts.
Offsite data storage through the cloud is the means for your data’s security. It ensures overall agency cyber security along with speed and ease of access to your agency’s data, among other benefits. If you don’t use cloud storage yet, here are just a few reasons why it’s time to invest in this critical piece of agency technology.
Data threats can come in many forms: hardware theft, hacking, natural disaster, and structural agency damage, to name a few. Geographic redundancy and multi-character password data encryption used in offsite storage ensure agency data is safe from such threats.
With cloud storage, data comes in and out through closely monitored access points. Cloud providers also stay up on industry and government data security standards, so you know your agency’s information is at the height of protection.
2. Your Data is Always Accessible
While securing your data is most important, accessing it is just as critical. Cloud storage allows you to access agency information anywhere you have an internet connection. Such connectivity means you can do business faster and serve customers better.
Data accessibility is vital should your agency fall victim to a security threat. Cloud providers work hard to ensure their facilities are safe from natural disaster areas, but you can’t guarantee the same for your agency. Should your agency’s hardware be compromised, you’ll be glad it’s not critical to data access. Offsite data storage allows you to seamlessly transition your operations to temporary spaces as you pick up the pieces.
Cloud storage also leads to faster data processing time. This streamlines operations and quickens customer response. Happier customers mean more business, and offsite data storage allows your agency to keep up with that growth. A simple increase in storage space is all your agency needs to add new locations or keep up with ever-emerging market trends.
4. Your Data Costs You Less
Storing agency data offsite can cost dramatically less than investing in the infrastructure to house it within your agency. Cloud storage providers already have the space, servers, and software to house your data, and you’re sharing costs with the dozens of other agencies renting their services. And you don’t need to add servers or other hardware as you grow – all is taken care of through the cloud. Finally, most providers offer pay per use, so you’re only paying for what you need.
The best and most convenient way to get cloud storage and data security is through your agency management system. Your management system houses all your agency data, so it makes sense to have that data hosted in a secure environment. Talk to your management system provider about offsite storage and cloud security in an effort to consolidate your expenses and heighten your insurance data protection.
At SIS, we house all Partner XE data with industry-leading cloud service providers like Expedient Data Centers and Amazon Web Services, in geographically distributed regions. All of our clients automatically gain the security, accessibility, and savings associated with cloud storage through our Partner XE management system.
This slogan became the catch phrase for “As Seen on TV” guru Ron Popeil’s Ronco electric oven. The phrase tapped into the customer’s common need: more time. It provided the ability to multitask, without the burden of actually thinking about two things at one time. It set the stage for our modern-day surge in automation.
Such automated systems and processes are an essential part of your agency management system best practices. If it can be automated, it should. Self-operating systems take fewer resources, saving money and time. And, they free up space for “back burner” projects like tackling prospecting and marketing initiatives, which eventually lead to a larger bottom line.
When it comes to automation, your agency needs to invest in these essential pieces.
Whether its commercial, personal, or both, setting up carrier downloads is a must. Carrier downloads promise up-to-date policy information and client records 24/7. No more calling carriers multiple times a day, tying up lines and sucking productivity. This streamlines system allows staff to focus on more important things, like your customers.
Find out how to get started with carrier downloads here
Integrating your agency management system with your email system allows you to automate prospect and client tracking. With email integration, every email you send is linked to a client or prospect profile automatically. You’ll never forget to tag this important piece of relationship-building information again.
Similar to email integration, integrated accounting within your management system saves you from forgetting essential steps. With integrated accounting, you only need to enter financial information once. And, your system can automatically create reports based on what you’re already recording in your system. The effects on your business are dramatic.
The automation effects of customer portals may not seem obvious, but giving clients access to their policy information is a real time-saver. Synching your policy information with a secure customer portal on your website can help you automate things like policy inquiries, address changes, and claims filing.
To benefit these time-saving elements, all the above pieces must be part of your agency workflows. Once you know the functionality of each automated system, it can only do its job if it’s integrated into your agency’s current systems and processes. Make an effort to define your systems and make automation a part of them.
Learn more about updating and improving agency processes here
As you look into these automation wonders, check in with your management system provider to ensure they can integrate these elements. If your system isn’t able to add these technologies, you’ll be back at square one.
Look for a system like SIS’s Partner XE, which is built to grow with your agency, through semi-annual updates based on client needs. We focus on training, too, ensuring our enhancements are not just “bells and whistles” that no one knows how to use.
As a new year begins, so do the resolutions. One popular goal is to stay connected – keeping in touch with the family and friends that flooded lives during the holiday season. However, like most resolutions, maintaining communications with others is easier said than done.
Using Communication Tools
Today’s tech can make it easier to stay in touch than ever. This is especially true for you and your agency. Staying in touch with your various agency partners can become second nature with a few simple communication tools that work with your management system. Consider adding these to your agency management system best practices:
Commercial and personal lines downloads
Each of these tools can sync with your system, connecting you with customers, prospects, and carriers for more effective and efficient communication.
Texting, mobile apps, and email integration are integral pieces for serving and growing your customer base. With mobile apps, customers can send and receive photos of damaged items, access mobile ID cards, and make policy updates among other conveniences. The ability to send and receive such information quickly gives your customers peace of mind and shows their time is valued.
Email integration allows you to effortlessly capture communications with both customers and prospects in your management system. You can attach and download documents within your management system and keep email threads right in an individual’s profile. Saving this relevant information in one location makes it easier to follow-up, building and maintaining a good relationship with both clients and prospects alike.
Texting benefits current customers and is highly effective in gaining new business. Texts are answered quickly and can provide prospects on the edge with the vital information they need to make a decision. In our fast-paced society, those quick responses to policy questions make the difference between closing and losing a deal.
Staying in touch with your carriers is important for maintaining up-to-date policy information. Your CSRs especially need to stay connected to address and update information, resulting in dozens of phone calls a week.
Commercial and person lines downloads can eliminate the need for phone calls, yet maintain quality communication about policy updates and changes. Downloads sync automatically, transmitting information right into your management system. And your agency can send info right back, keeping carriers informed of cancellations, reinstatements, claims, and other relevant information.
Each of these communications tools can be a game-changer for your agency…if you know how to use them. Part of improving your operations is learning how to use your agency management systems to its maximum efficiency.
This is where your management system provider comes in. At SIS, we know our client communication plays a critical role in their ability to use our Partner XE system to its fullest. We are committed to being there for our clients through in-person trainings, quick email responses, online support, and direct connection with a real person to address customer needs.
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