Growing any business can be difficult, but it’s been especially tough for the insurance industry of late. Studies show the insurance sector’s growth rate is slowing, moving from 12.5% in 2006 to a predicted 3% to 5% seven years later. With such a significant growth decrease, agencies must do all they can to overcome growth obstacles.
What are some of those obstacles, and how can you combat them? We take a look at the common issues facing agencies and the best agency management system capabilities to break down barriers to success.
Challenge #1: Cost-Effective Marketing
Agencies are seeing more marketing competition direct from carries, and less support from the carries themselves in the marketing realm. This raises concern about how to stand out when you’ve got less to spend.
Data is the answer. The more you know about your customers and prospective audience, the better. With more knowledge, you can spend your dollars wisely, targeting audience segments and content with the highest ROI for your agency. Marketing automation and CRM software are essential in helping you collect better data, analyze more effectively, and deliver results faster.
Challenge #2: Industry Tech Advances
There are dozens of new methods and mechanisms in the industry. The key is to focus on those that matter and attack them first. Process digitization should be your first.
By digitizing processes, you can save time and money and deliver better service to your customers. A recent Harvard Business Review study found process digitization can deliver up to a 65% reduction in cost, 90% reduction in process turnaround time, and as much as a 20% increase in conversion rates. Plus, moving to paperless processes means decreased E&O issues.
Great digitization resources include integrated proposal creator, esignatures, and email in your management system. The more you can do without mailing, printing, and faxing, the better.
Are you up with the tech trends for the industry? See if you’re leveraging the best agency software
Challenge #3: Customer Barriers to Entry
Insurance is already a hard sell as it’s not seen as a necessity. Add to that a cumbersome underwriting process, and you’re making it less likely for leads to convert. Again, paperless or digitized processes and integrated systems will alleviate much of that pain.
In addition to paperless and integration, a client portal makes it easier for customers and prospects to do business with your agency. A client-facing portal allows constituents to make changes and get the information they need instantly, making them much more likely to come back again.
Challenge #4: Fear of E&O
Errors and omissions are always on your mind, but even more so with increasing security threats and more stringent industry regulations. You can put these fears at ease with paperless processing of information and integrated systems as well.
By digitizing documents and processes, you can be sure you won’t misplace or be unable to understand documentation. Integrated systems like email and texting help you accurately track customer interactions so you can go back and confirm information easily. Both are designed to keep you and your customers safer.
Challenge #5: Customer Expectations
Tech advances have amped up customer expectations across industries. A Salesforce.com report found more than 70% of customers expect businesses to change their service based on customer interactions. That means you need to understand customer expectations and adjust your services to meet them.
The good news is J.D. Power already did the work for you: a 2018 Auto Insurance Study found customers with the highest auto insurance satisfaction cited access to self-service tools and mobile apps as the top two things that make them happy. Start with these two customer-focused tools and you’ll be on your way to keeping up with expectations.
Dive deeper into what customers really want on our blog
Challenge #6: Lead Generation
You knew you’d find lead generation on this list. It’s the number one issue for most businesses, and insurance is no expectation. The best and most effective tool to increase your leads is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool). CRMs are built for lead management and provide you with a host of data to help you target and grow leads more effectively.
One way you can leverage a CRM is to identify your agency’s niche markets. For example, maybe you see you’re providing coverage to multiple emergency vehicle fleets or that you have a knack for serving those with lifelong health conditions like diabetes. Refine your services to meet these niche areas and you’ll find great success in targeted markets.
Gain more insights on Insurance Prospecting as an Independent Agency here
Getting Ahead of Roadblocks with Partner Platform
Our Partner Platform Community is focused on identifying obstacles and working towards solutions to support our agencies. Our most recent Partner Platform additions, Partner Connect and Producer Results Manager, are just a piece of what we have to keep our agencies equipped for whatever comes next.
Hear from the agencies themselves on our client stories page and see for yourself when you view a demo at sispartnerplatform.com.
Agency and insurance management system data security has always been a top priority for us at SIS. We built our Partner Platform agency management system suite with data safety and cybersecurity in mind, and it continues to be a topic we follow.
This past May, agency data security was one of our key topics at our annual Partner National User Conference, where we heard from industry expert Brad Ruben on how to prevent and prepare for security attacks.
One of the reasons we asked Brad to speak is we know security takes teamwork. Though we are confident we’re providing the most secure system to our partner agencies, they are still at risk if they’re not equipping their staff to watch for cyber-attacks.
This summer, we encourage you to take the time to look at your data security measures and re-commit as a staff to protect your customers. Here’s a little advice to get you started.
Get a full re-cap on our National User Conference from SIS President Michael Doran here
Advice from Experts: Equip and Educate
Archway Computer CEO Brad Ruben’s presentation at our National User Conference had quite an impact on attendees. Multiple agency representatives walked away with practical, actionable advice on how they could better manage and protect their data. Highlights from his presentation included:
- There is cause for concern. Over 33,000 phishing attacks and 4,000 successful ransomware attacks occur each day.
- Anti-virus protection is a must. Programs like Webroot and Malware Bytes are essential to keeping you safe.
- Cloud services are the future of security. Data hosting services like Amazon Web Services have 24/7 data surveillance, redundant backups, and multi-character encryption to keep your data safer than you can on your own.
Find out why you should be moving your agency data to the cloud
The most significant takeaway was the emphasis on educating staff on data security. Some of Brad’s tips included:
- Delete suspicious emails. Never click on links from unfamiliar senders. Delete emails from unknown sources and report them to your IT team.
- Password protect sensitive files. When moving files to a USB, sending through email, or saving on a laptop, add password protection to keep them safe.
- Use complex passwords. Employ number, letter, and punctuation combinations, including using different cases for letters. And be sure to use multiple passwords, so you don’t have just one tied to all accounts.
- Don’t install programs you don’t know. Even something as harmless looking as a computer game or unknown anti-virus software can be hiding as malicious programs. Ensure staff consult with IT before installing anything.
SIS Partner Platform agencies can access the full presentation on PartnerNet
Read more ways to minimize agency data security risks
Mandates from States: Staying Up to Standards
Though you should be keeping your agency data safe no matter what, some agencies are legally obligated to do so by their state. States like New York, Ohio, and South Carolina have individual regulations agencies should know.
We keep our standards in line with the strictest state regulations, ensuring Partner Platform is up to standard throughout the U.S. Some of the measures we use include:
- Restricted admin access limiting only a few select persons to accessing data.
- Multi-factor authentication and complex passwords to access restricted data.
- End-to-end data encryption to ensure information is continually protected.
- Safe and swift disposal of nonpublic information the moment it’s no longer needed.
- Redundant back-ups and disaster recovery plan to safeguard against power outages or security breaches.
Discover more on our commitment to data security here
Get the Right Data Security Partner in SIS
We make a commitment to our partner agencies to uphold the highest security standards, ensuring they can trust us with their data. We’re partners in security with our clients, working with and for them to create and support sustainable, secure infrastructure.
Hear what our clients have to say about their experience with Partner Platform and SIS on our Client Stories page.
Want to find out more? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.747.7005, Option 6.
What makes quality customer service? Really, it’s not for you to say – it’s for your customers to define. Your customers have grown used to certain levels of service, and those expectations affect what they look for in their insurance agency support. And they’ll leave if they don’t see it.
“The way we’ve always done it” doesn’t work anymore. Legacy systems, siloed departments, and years-old processes lead to slow service and irritated customers. In a recent survey, more than 60% of P&C insurers revealed they still relied on these old processes and systems. Outdated technology leads to inefficient processes, which translate to lousy service.
How can your agency avoid falling into this service slow-down trap?
Know What Customers Want
Step one to meeting customer expectations is knowing what they want. According to our research, insurance customers look for:
- Mobile website access: A 2016 Accenture study showed 41% of respondents used a mobile device to make their insurance purchase – a number that is likely much higher now.
- Online portals: A recent Microsoft survey found 90% of respondents expected their provider to have an online portal and mobile access to it.
- Mobile app: A D. Power and Associates study found 74% of agencies surveyed offer an app for customers to manage policies and process claims via mobile.
- AI insights: An Accenture study found almost three-quarters of customers are “very or somewhat willing” to get insurance advice and answers from a computer-generated platform.
- Results from shared data: The same Accenture survey revealed 57% of respondents recognize the importance of sharing their data with insurers and are willing to do so in exchange for “added benefits” like personalized offers and discounts.
- Single point contact: Your customers value speed, but they also value consistency. A McKinsey survey showed when agencies moved customers to have a single point of contact, satisfaction increased by 50% and follow-ups decreased by more than 80%.
Discover the key to high customer satisfaction on our blog
Decide What Tech is Worth the Investment
There are dozens of tech solutions out there to meet the above customer needs, but that doesn’t mean they are all right for your agency. Start by deciding what tools you need (i.e., customer portal, CRM, marketing automation) and then look at specific systems. When looking, be sure to:
- Check with your management system user group to get advice and hear experiences
- Ensure new tools are compatible with your current systems
- Asses time savings and efficiency improvements as well as cost savings
- Ask about training and support provided
- Go for tools and systems with dynamic updates so you don’t need to buy the latest version year after year
Gain more insights on choosing the right tech for your agency here
Get All Your Insurance Support Needs in One Place
If you need a mobile app, we got that. Want a customer portal? We got that, too. CRM? Marketing automation? Mobile website templates? Yes, yes, and yes.
You can get all the insurance customer support tech you want, and the superior service you need to back it up, with the Partner Platform from SIS. With your management system, marketing, sales outreach, and customer support all in one pace, Partner Platform provides the unifying communications required to meet customer needs.
With Partner Platform, you’ll also get our new Partner Connect customer communication tool. Partner Connect ensures customers are being heard and supplied with the tools they want to connect with you.
Find out more about this innovative insurance customer support tool and the team behind it. Contact us at 800.747.7005, Option 6 or email@example.com.
For most independent insurance agencies, superior customer service is their bread and butter. Beyond serving your local community and providing a quality service to those in need, good customer service is also tied to better business. One survey recently found over 80% of respondents would pay more for a better customer service experience. There is value in bettering your customers’ experience, and you already have the means in your agency workflows.
These five steps can help you gain insight into customer needs and put them into practice.
Step 1: Identify Interaction Points
Take a look at the where you interact with customers: online, over the phone, in person – all of these are opportunities to gain information on what your customers want and care about. Once you know what matters to them, you can start putting them into practice in these existing interactions.
Get more insights on how to improve customer relationships on our blog
Step 2: Document Customer Interactions
Once you know where you’re interacting with customers, come up with a method to document each encounter. The more in-depth info you collect, the better. Management system mobile apps come in handy here as they allow agents to immediately document meetings and their details. Email and texting integration are also beneficial as each instantly captures an entire exchange and syncs to the customer’s record.
Step 3: Determine Where Interaction Documentation Lives
Once you have a way to record information on customer interactions, you need to have a place to put that information. Too often, agents and CSRs are keeping customer interaction data in siloed spaces. You need to find a spot to bring it all together. Ideally, your agency management system is built to address the needs of your service and sales teams.
Step 4: Establish Process to Follow Up on Interactions
Tracking customer interactions is only a piece of what you’re trying to accomplish. To truly improve these interactions, you need to follow up on conversations. In most cases, follow up comes from a CSR providing service to conclude a suspense, but not all conversations have such defined follow-up needs. Some interactions need a simple check-in to see how things are going and to get a feel of whether a customer was satisfied with the service they received. This can be via automated or manual methods or a combination of both.
Never forget to follow up – get reminders through Partner Platform’s Marketing Automation Manager
Step 5: Ensure You Have the Right Tools to Get the Job Done
For any customer interaction to happen, you need to provide ways for customers to connect with your agency. The essential customer connection tools are 1) an easy to use and understand website, 2) customer-facing mobile app, and 3) branded client portal. Each of these tools face out to the customer and give them an opportunity to connect with you.
We’ve brought all three together in our latest Partner Platform addition, Partner Connect. Partner Connect is a multi-faced customer experience for users to enhance customer communication with agency-branded tools. With multiple offer levels to fit your agency, Partner Connect provides all the tools you need at the right price.
Find out more about Partner Connect and the Partner Platform agency management system – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.747.7005, Option 6.
We’re living in a digital world. It’s estimated that by 2040, 95 percent of purchases will be via online methods. And with good reason – digital purchasing is faster, more efficient, and less expensive for both merchant and buyer. But there is still a part of digital business that looms: cyber-attacks on your insurance agency systems.
It’s reported that by 2018 nearly 70 percent of businesses experienced a cyber-attack. Even scarier, a Nationwide survey showed only 9 percent of companies said they were victims of an attack when in fact, after seeing a list of harmful activity, at least 50 percent had experienced one. Chances are those businesses didn’t know how to prevent an attack, either.
Get more detailed info on protecting your agency in our Cyber Security and Data Protection eGuide
Knowing the Threats
The first step to protecting your agency and its data is knowing what threats are out there. The most common threats are:
- Viruses infecting systems and destroying data
- Hackers breaking into systems and stealing personal data
- Employees leaving systems open for passersby to see and steal info
Unfortunately, the last threat is more common than you may think. IBM and Ponemon’s Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Study showed 27 percent of data attacks were due to human error while 25 percent were a system glitch. That’s over half of cyber weaknesses falling squarely in the laps of the victims.
Read more on how to keep your agency safe from cybersecurity experts in the industry
Implementing Insurance Agency System Solutions
The good news is you have control over these vulnerabilities. You can decrease your likelihood of attack through a few simple agency system solutions:
- Limit access to sensitive data
- Require multi-character encrypted passwords that change regularly to access data
- Conduct background checks on employees who access sensitive information
- Educate employees on best practices, such as only accessing data on private networks
- House data on a secure, off-site server with redundant back-up and outsourced security monitoring
- Regularly test your security systems, including drills for employees
- Purchase liability insurance for your agency in case of unpreventable threats
Read the Top 4 Reasons to House Your Insurance Data Offsite on our blog
Finding a Partner You Can Trust
At SIS, we always have security top of mind. Every Partner Platform upgrade is coupled with security testing, ensuring we’re handing our Partner agencies a safe, secure, effective tool. And we leverage state-of-the-art technology to hold customer data in facilities with geographic redundancy, data encryption, and backups compliant with industry and government standards.
We work hard to earn and keep our Partner agencies’ trust. See what they have to say about our security and service: check out our Client Stories page to find out more.
Close to 90% of people say they always have their smartphone close. That’s 90% of people who can read and respond to anything sent to their phone almost immediately. With that sort of accessibility, integrated texting is a critical insurance management system tool. Texting is a great way to get short, important messaging to your agency’s prospects and clients, providing the convenient communication they desire.
Texting and Your Agency: Efficiency and Safety
Texting is not only fast, it’s also effective: texting open rates are around 98% while email is still hovering around less than 25%. With texting, you can schedule messaging knowing the recipient will almost certainly read it.
Dive deeper into texting and your agency with our post on texting best practices
Beyond its speed and efficiency, texting can also be a great addition to your E&O toolbelt. Integrated texting allows you to capture everything you sent in your agency management system, attaching it to client and prospect profiles as needed. This allows you to have a permanent record of your conversation instantly.
And, texting is a lifesaver when it comes to claims management. Texting allows clients to take photos and send information the moment an accident happens, making the information that much more reliable. In many cases, texting is even better than opening an app as it requires no sign-in and it’s a process the client knows well.
Get best practices on all agency communications on the SIS blog
Texting and the Partner Platform
At SIS, we’ve worked with our customers to provide all the efficiencies they need while remaining E&O complaint. That’s why we added integrated texting to the Partner Platform.
Texting is integrated directly so our Partner agencies can send messages right through the system and replies will be captured and paired with prospect and client profiles. And, it’s easy for clients to opt-out per texting regulations. It’s just another way Partner Platform helps your agency get more done, better.
Learn more about our integrated texting, and other Partner Platform features: contact us today to view a demo and see how Partner Platform can transform your agency.