In a world of data-driven business, having access to clean, accurate data is vital. As an insurance agency, your data gives you the key information you need to make decisions that will drive your business forward. Poor-quality data costs the US economy around $3.1 trillion per year – and one of the biggest causes of poor-quality data in insurance agencies are data silos.

Data management may seem like an easy enough task but even the smallest insurance agency can unintentionally create silos of data that are outdated, inaccessible, and inaccurate. Poor-quality data isn’t going to help you make the best decisions for your business, let alone your clients. 

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to overcome and prevent data silos.

What Is a Data Silo?

A data silo is best described as data that is only accessible to one group or team in your agency or is stored in a system that doesn’t allow you to share certain data with other relevant systems in your organization. Data silos can easily occur in agencies of any size. 

How? Think about how many of these different systems your agency uses:

  • Paper files and spreadsheets
  • Email marketing software
  • Agency management systems (AMS)/Customer relationship management (CRM) tools
  • Marketing automation software
  • Sales management software
  • Landing page or website software
  • Enrollment software
  • Carrier websites
  • Commission tracking software
  • Call center software
  • Lead vendors/lead forms
  • Referral software

Using these different tools isn’t the problem. Having data scattered across multiple platforms without it being synced and easily accessible, is. 

As an agency, you need to keep track of client relationships, agents, commissions, carriers, groups, and more – and each of these systems houses data about all of those things. It’s important that all members of your team have access to critical client information in order to provide a personalized, high-quality customer experience. 

Why Are Data Silos Problematic? 

While it may not seem like a big problem to have, data silos can cause many issues in businesses of any size. Data silos are problematic because they: 

  • Generate garbage data, which creates poor-quality results. The minute you have data silos that contain their own version of the same data, you start creating “garbage data.” A poor-quality input will always produce a poor-quality output; to put it simply, garbage in, garbage out. 
  • Cost you more money, long term. When using multiple software and data platforms, the costs can start piling up. Choosing software where you’re able to do multiple tasks in one place can not only save you money but also prevents data silos in the case that data can’t be synced. 
  • Block collaboration. When one team or location of your agency uses a system or platform that no one else uses or has access to, this prevents collaboration. When teams aren't collaborating, it makes it hard to share a company vision that everyone is striving for. Likewise, if you manage multiple downline agents or agencies who use different software, it’s easy for disconnects and miscommunications to occur.
  • Create inefficiencies, which waste valuable time, money, and resources. Multiple teams storing the same data in different systems in different manners is grossly inefficient. Which source is the most accurate? Which one is most recent? It’s likely the answers to these questions will vary, and the valuable time spent searching for and gathering the data you need could be allocated elsewhere if you had the right systems in place. What’s more, by the time you collect the data you need, it may be outdated. 

Overall, data silos are a major contributor to disorganization, which not only impacts your team’s effectiveness and ability to do their job but can also influence your client’s experience with your company. For example, when a client calls about their current or future policy needs, being able to easily access key data – such as notes on prior conversations or current policy information – in a timely manner can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your agents and the client’s overall experience. 

With data being tracked in multiple places, it’s easy to lose track of important client information, which can lead to frustration and hurt client trust and loyalty – potentially costing you valuable business. 

How To Avoid Data Silos

As your insurance agency grows, data silos can have an increasingly significant impact – and the last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation where it will be nearly impossible to merge your data. The sooner you take action against data silos, the better. 

Create Processes That Prevent Data Silos

Standardizing your internal processes is critical to keeping consistent data management across the board. For example, your agents may be entering the same data into different fields within their systems or may value certain information more than other information. Creating standard operating procedures and training each agent on them guarantees that data management stays consistent across the board. 

Keep in mind that the main goal behind process standardization is to increase productivity and data accuracy. When everyone is on the same page, your agency can run much smoother and data silos will be non-existent. There are many ways you can create standard processes and automate agency tasks, such as writing your processes step-by-step and keeping them in a shareable document, and using an industry-specific AMS, which we’ll cover next.

Consolidate Your Software Systems

Implementing a companywide AMS that has all the capabilities you need in one place can help you easily prevent data silos. If your agency is already experiencing data silos, then the move to a new AMS is going to force you to clean up your data as you import it into a new system. If you don't have an issue with data silos, then integrating a whole-office AMS can help you prevent them in the future – something you will be especially thankful for as your agency grows. 

Additionally, an AMS can help you create efficiencies throughout your agency. Automated Workflow in AgencyBloc helps you create process standardization and ensures consistency throughout your agency. You can use Automated Workflow to create processes for:

  • Lead nurturing
  • New client onboarding
  • New agent onboarding
  • Upcoming policy renewals
  • Aging into Medicare, and more.

Change Your Agency Culture

As described above, data silos are usually the result of teams working independently from each other across different systems. Creating a culture of open communication across all departments can help you quickly uncover data silos before they get out of control. This may require removing competition between teams or individuals who may be benefitting from keeping data to themselves.

Your processes and the tools you use have a big impact on your agency’s culture, and you want to choose ones that foster a transparent, collaborative environment. An aggregate view of your agency’s data allows your team to stay connected, communicate better, and break down the separation between different departments. 

Not only will promoting a healthy agency culture help you avoid data silos, but it will also allow your agency to grow at a quicker rate as it attracts and retains agents and creates efficiency. 

Conquer Data Silos Once and for All With AgencyBloc

From wasting valuable time to making big business decisions based on inaccurate information, and beyond, data silos can cost you a lot in terms of time, money, and resources. The longer you put off correcting or preventing them, the worse they can become. 

As the #1 Recommended Insurance Industry Growth Platform, AgencyBloc’s industry-specific solutions makes it easy to manage your data and prevent data silos. With efficient integrations and APIs, we enable you to have all of your data in one place – but that’s not all. Our software can help you streamline internal processes – from commissions processing to lead management, and more. In addition, we offer custom reporting and data analytics tools so that you can learn from your data and take action toward growing your business. 

Ready to explore how AgencyBloc can help you drive agency growth? Schedule a demo today.

Posted by Allison Babberl on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 in Insurance Agency Management System

  1. data management
  2. productivity

About The Author

Allison Babberl

Allison is the Content Lead at AgencyBloc. She manages the creation and schedule of all educational content for our BlocTalk and Member communities. Favorite quote: “Conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without it, our relationships are devoid of substance.” -Maribeth Ku ... read more