What Insurance Agencies Are Using Now
At the end of 2016, we sent out a survey to insurance agents who sell life, health, and voluntary products to groups, individuals, and seniors. These agencies represented all sizes from 1 to 2-man independent shops to large agencies. From this survey we learned that:
- 46% of insurance agencies manage their book of business through an Agency Management System (AMS)
- 29% manage their book through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- 14% use paper files
- 11% use Excel spreadsheets
What this means is that 1 in 4 insurance agencies are still relying on Excel spreadsheets and paper files to manage their book of business.
“Before AgencyBloc, our office used a separate spreadsheet for every activity - tracking phone calls, files for quotes, and another for current business. One question from a client could take 5 minutes to answer simply because we had to locate in WHICH spreadsheet the info was hidden.”
While there is nothing wrong with using Excel or paper files, you should be aware of the drawbacks that come with it. Here are some problems you may run into when you manage your book via Excel or paper files:
Twenty-nine percent of insurance agencies are using a CRM. These systems are often robust software like Salesforce, GoldMine, and SugarCRM, all of which are generic CRMs. One of the biggest benefits you’ll find with CRMs like these is that they are often much more than an insurance agency really needs, which can make the system a bit confusing along with other costs.
“We couldn't be more pleased as it does everything we were looking for and more. Honestly, I've used BenefitPoint, Goldmine, and GBS in the past and AgencyBloc is by far the easiest and most user-friendly system of them all.”
Fitzgibbons Arnold & Company
This cost is both time and money. These systems are not built for specific industry needs, and oftentimes the developer, customer service rep, and sales rep will likely not understand your insurance specific needs. This will require you to spend countless hours teaching them (especially the web developer) about the industry so they have a better understanding of why you need things to function certain ways. Not only will the hours bog you down, but the price of customizations does not come cheap.
The largest portion, coming in at 46%, reported they are managing their book of business via an agency management system (AMS). For the insurance world, an AMS is your best option because they’re built explicitly for the insurance agency. Some of the agency management systems are even tailored to a certain insurance niche. For example, AgencyBloc is built specifically for the life and health insurance industry.
So why are people moving?
Our survey also found that 15% of agents/agencies plan to move to an industry-specific AMS by the end of 2017. That’s a fair amount of people nationwide. From our history with insurance agencies and the discussions we’ve had with our clients, we’ve found these to be the five main reasons why agents are moving to an AMS.
For many insurance agents, the reason they’re in the insurance game is to grow their book of business. Insurance agencies leverage the use of an AMS to help them organize and manage their clients so they can focus more on growing their client-base.
An AMS like AgencyBloc offers you automated capabilities that can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on annual client communication like policy renewal reminders and can increase how efficiently you work leads.
In fact, one agency found that by using the Automated Workflow component in AgencyBloc—a tool that allows you to efficiently and effectively communicate externally and internally—they were able to save 6 hours every Annual Election Period on lead distribution and over 100 hours every renewal period in sending renewal notices to clients.
Automation like this also helps you to maintain more effective and consistent communication with your clients (which they want!). One study found a 74% increase in customer satisfaction when their agent was able to respond faster to their needs and help them find a solution. Automated workflows ensure you stay in communication with your clients for important moments like policy renewals, policy approvals, policy changes, and their birthday. Additionally, Automated Workflow in AgencyBloc helps to keep your list of to-do’s in order by displaying them on your task list and with timely reminder emails. This helps to make sure you never miss a follow-up, a meeting, or let any prospect fall through the cracks while you juggle all of your other responsibilities.
Some people aspire to work less and enjoy life more. The insurance industry affords you two major luxuries: profitability and flexibility. There are many agents that join just to create a lifestyle that allows them more freedom to do other things they love.
By having all of your clients’ information in one centralized location, you’ll be able to access everything quicker and easier. You’ll be able to service your clients faster and drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on everyday manual tasks.
In addition, having a cloud-based product means you can take you business anywhere you go. You can work from the coffee shop down the street, from your kitchen, or anywhere you meet with clients. All you need is an internet connection, and you’ll have access to your entire book of business. Using an AMS like AgencyBloc takes the stress off of your shoulders and allows you more time to relax with the ones you love or doing something you love (like pottery!).
Peace of Mind
If you’ve watched the news recently or read your daily highlights email blast, then you know 2017 has been a rough year for malware, ransomware, and basically all computer attacks. The most recent, and largest, being the WannaCry attacks back in May. As the trends are going, these attacks are not going to be diminishing anytime soon.
Now, before you go tossing your computer, tablet, and smartphone out the window, take a deep breath. These attacks are serious and need to be taken seriously, but there are ways you can protect yourself. A cloud-based, encrypted, and protected AMS like AgencyBloc is dedicated to keeping their security top-of-the-line and cutting edge. Their business is you. Therefore, they quadruple ensure that you’re receiving nothing less than the optimal level of protection.
For this reason, many insurance agencies are choosing to migrate over to an up-to-date, encrypted, cloud-based agency management system that can offer the security they seek and the peace of mind they desperately need.
“What it boils down to is that you need to be upfront and ask your provider the serious questions. What is your procedure for backing up data? How often will my data be backed up? Where is it stored? What’s your fall-out plan if something happens?”
CTO of AgencyBloc
Some believe that if they stay far away from the more technologically-based products and opt for simpler applications (think Excel spreadsheets or paper files), then they’ll be more protected. This isn’t true. If you store any of the sensitive information for your clients on your computer, you could be at risk. Many of these hackers gain access with rigged emails that have dangerous downloads. Once you open the file, the assailant has gained access to everything your hard drive contains. So, and I CANNOT stress this enough: be extremely vigilant of the emails you open from unknown sources and the attachments you download onto your computer.
Some agents are ready to get out of the game but want to ensure they, and their family, are set for retirement. With this mindset, they want to ensure they get the most bang for their buck when they go to sell their book of business (if that’s the route they’ve chosen). By having your data in an organized, manageable agency management system, you’re able to make your book more valuable than before.
Why is this? Think of the popular saying: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). If you aren’t dedicated to the upkeep and organization of your data, then it won’t be top quality. It will essentially be a set of various data points strewn throughout that may not even be accurate. Would you pay top dollar for that? Probably not.
Take a moment to consider the difference between the following photos.
Unorganized, not “clean” data
As you can see, the “clean” data is much more organized than the not “clean” data. It follows the same guidelines for dates and numbers while also dictating that everything should be written without abbreviations. Not only is the cohesive unit simpler to read and understand, but it allows for your successor to quickly grasp the information, learn who the clients are, and build from there. This means the transition will be smoother and your clients won’t notice the change as much—which means everyone will be happier.
One of the most common issues we hear is: “my current solution doesn’t allow me to effectively track or manage my commission payments.” For the most part, the large generic CRMs do not provide you with a commission module. Usually, you’ll have to pay a web developer to build one out or hire someone in-house (which could run you upwards of $75,000 a year) to do so.
“We've been able to cut our time processing commissions by 75%, saved nearly $33,000 every year in employee time, and have gained 90 hours back every month. Switching to AgencyBloc was the best decision I made as a commissions manager.”
Some try and track their commissions through Excel but often run into issues. Check out our blog, 4 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Excel Spreadsheets to Process Commissions, to learn more about why Excel isn’t ideal as a commission processing application. Others attempt to build one out in either their CRM or their homegrown solution. The problem they usually run into with this is that the program just never really runs the way they want it to and often needs constant tinkering.
Most grow tired of the manual obligations that come from managing their commissions with Excel, a generic CRM, or a homegrown solution. For this reason, many insurance agents look to industry-specific AMS software like AgencyBloc to relieve them of this stressful strain.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re in the position that you’ve realized your current solution isn’t working for you, then you may need to start considering switching to a system that is built for your needs. You may fall into one of the reasons above, or maybe you don’t like the customer service you’re receiving. Or maybe the look of your program rubs you the wrong way. Or maybe you feel like you’re paying too much for a software you’re not truly using.
Whatever your reason is, the idea of changing can be scary, but we’re here to help.
I’ll briefly summarize these steps here for you today, but to learn more, check out our free on-demand webinar. If you decided a change is for you, then here are steps you should consider taking to ensure the system you choose is the right fit for your insurance agency.
- Identify your goals
- How much do you want to grow? Which areas could you improve? What would you like to see in the near future for your insurance agency? Make a list of goals for your agency that everyone at your agency can reach together. Check out this blog for help with goal setting.
- Identify your needs
- How are you going to achieve the goals you set in step one? What do you need? Make two lists of what your agency needs and what you would like to have so you can better understand how your next technology should function. Consider applications like a cloud-based software or real-time analytics or workflow automation. Use this chart to help.
- Consider your budget
- What can you realistically afford? Make sure to ask about all the fees like supplemental fees, setup fees, training fees, support fees, migration fees, etc. Also be sure to ask about the contract, the length, and the penalties if you so choose to leave early. If you don’t have a way out, then maybe that solution isn’t the best option for you.
- Make a decision
- This is the most important step. Yes, it’s important for you to weigh your options, but don’t let yourself settle in indecision forever. The fear of making the wrong decision can be a major roadblock for your agency. In all honesty, choosing not to choose is a decision in of itself, and it’s choosing to stagnate the future of your insurance agency. Learn more about how indecision can be harmful and what you can do about it.
- Manage change in your agency
- Making the decision is only the first hurdle. Remember, your employees and teammates are humans, so the transition may take time and could be rocky at times. Take the transition period in stride and make sure every due date you set is flexible. You’ll thank yourself for it, and so will your employees. Learn more about managing change in this blog post.
Wrapping it all up
As you make the transition, here are some articles that may prove useful for you:
When you decide to take the plunge and migrate to an industry-specific agency management system, keep this quote from CRM Switch in mind:
“Switching CRM systems isn’t an easy decision, but there are valid reasons for doing so. Your current system may not offer features that would benefit you, they may not have apps for the mobile devices your team uses, or you may just not like the interface. Whatever your reasons, know that you’re not alone.”
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