Client & Prospect Data
We’ve talked a lot about smart data and, basically, making your data work for you a lot in our blogs, eBooks, and webinars. That’s because your data likely holds the key to growth for your insurance agency by telling you how your agency has performed in the past and areas you can improve.
Data is also helpful for better connecting with your clients and prospects. Data in this case means any information on your clients and prospects that’s important for contacting them, connecting with them, and best serving them as their agent.
The “bare bones” of what you should be keeping on your clients and prospects are:
- First name
- Last name
- Phone number
- Email address
Yes, I include email address in the “bare bones” of what you should be collecting. Why? Because email is the way that many people wish to receive information—72% prefer it, in fact!
Some agents aren’t sure how to ask for an email address, but often times it’s as simple as letting them know you’ll email them a summary of your conversation or more details of what you discussed in person or on the phone. It’s often a field agencies just place on their paperwork for clients and prospects to fill out. Either way, you understand your clients and prospects best and probably know which ones are likely to give you their email address and which aren’t. You can navigate the best way to approach each of those situations.
Now, more advanced agencies keep even more information on clients and prospects like:
- Preferred method of contact (email, phone, both)
- Contact type (client, prospect, ex-client, ex-prospect, employee, beneficiary, etc.)
- Contact status (quoting, app submitted, enrolled, canceled, etc.)
- Lead information (lead date, lead source, etc.)
Next, it’s obvious you need all of the information pertaining to the policies they have with you in their record:
- Policy number
- Coverage type
- App submit date
- Effective date
- Renewal date
- Term date
- Servicing agent (& additional agents)
- Account manager (if applicable)
You also want to keep up-to-date, thorough commission information:
Lastly, it’s vital for insurance agencies to document every contact they have with clients and prospects for E&O and compliance reasons. This means being able to quickly write up notes and attach documents after each contact.
All of this information should serve as a guideline for the types of information your agency should be striving to keep up-to-date on your clients and prospects. Why? Because knowledge is power. If your agency maintains clean, thorough data, you can put that data to use. Agencies who maintain current data like this benefit from workflow automation, streamlined commissions processing, enhanced customer service, automated email communication, and an overall better grip on their day-to-day tasks—more on this later.
What else does your agency need to collect and keep up to date on your clients and prospects? This is where you need to ask yourself what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your clients.
Do you ever wonder how your dentist remembers details about your life or something you were discussing 6 months ago at your last appointment? They write it down! They keep it in your record so that they can connect with you on a personal level the next time you’re in. And this is exactly what every insurance agency needs to be doing.
Some might argue that this is an insincere way (or a "cheating" way) to connect with clients, but I would argue that it’s actually showing how much your business cares about its clients and prospects. You care enough to keep tabs on what your clients and prospects are doing in their personal lives; not to mention, especially in the insurance world, this can help you provide better service by knowing what’s going on in their lives.
With that said, here are a few ideas of the more personal information you could be keeping:
- Birthday (mentioned above as well)
- Wedding anniversary (and spouses names)
- Children’s names and ages
- Occupation (group/employee benefits agents will already have this information)
- Pets (type and names)
I think what’s most important to be said here for the list above is that you should be taking notes on even the “small talk” or personal things you and your clients/prospects chat about. What are their weekend plans? Do they have a vacation coming up? Did they do anything fun for the most recent holiday?
Then, the next time you chat, you can pick up right where you left off. You’ll look competent to your clients and they’ll feel you truly value your relationship with them enough to care about their personal lives.
Storing the Data
There’s really only one constructive way to store a mass amount of data on your clients and prospects in an organized fashion, and that’s by using software. More and more insurance agents are switching from paper files, Excel spreadsheets, and generic Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to an industry-specific agency management system (AMS). Why? Because industry-specific AMSs are built for insurance agencies. And they often tailor to a certain niche, like how AgencyBloc is built specifically for life and health agencies.
Technology like this helps agencies stay much more organized and efficient compared to using paper files or spreadsheets. Did you know that 88% of Excel spreadsheets contain errors?! It sounds crazy, but it’s also not hard to imagine considering how manual spreadsheets are. Bottom line: With the amount of data being collected on clients and prospects, paper files and spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore.
In fact, the consequences of lack of data or bad data are seriously costly. IBM estimates the cost of bad data to be $3.1 trillion yearly in the United States. Harvard Business Review describes a “hidden data factory” that tends to emerge in agencies and businesses that use error-prone data practices.
There’s so much to be said about maintaining your data in an AMS vs. paper files or spreadsheets. To learn more, check out our eBook, Switching from Excel Spreadsheets to an Industry-Specific Agency Management System: How and Why.
An AMS has several other benefits beyond being organized that we touched on before:
Overall, keeping thorough and up-to-date data on all of your clients and prospects helps you serve them to the best of your abilities using all of the above tools and features of an AMS.
Nervous about moving to an AMS if you’re still using paper files, spreadsheets, or a generic CRM? It can be daunting, but there are definitely things you can do to prepare.
We pointed out in our eBook, The Insurance Agency's Brief Guide to Data Migration, that almost all (85%) companies who engage in a data migration process struggle at some point. There are 5 areas companies have issues with:
- Lack of collaboration - Collaboration with your team is essential to “clean”, organize, and migrate the data. And collaboration with the AMS vendor is necessary to make the transition a smooth one.
- Lack of data standardization or data consistency - “Clean” data is needed for successful migration; companies should look at their current data, how employees are entering data, and create standards to follow in the new system.
- Poor system design - Adequately planning and preparing people for the data migration is crucial. You need to think about where everyone will insert notes, comments, or questions throughout the project and see the ongoing status.
- Inaccurate information - This is similar to the point made above; you don’t want to start a new system with “garbage” data. Inaccurate data comes in many forms: inconsistent data (like we talked about above), outdated data, missing data, etc.
- Poor interpretation of business rules - It’s crucial that the people helping you with your data migration (your AMS vendor and your “ assigned data migration team” within your agency) understand your data. It’s really hard to organize and migrate data you know nothing about in the first place because you can’t spot errors or make updates when necessary.
To learn more about each of these and how you can best prepare for data migration and the questions you should be asking of AMS vendors, check out our eBook, The Insurance Agency's Brief Guide to Data Migration.
So I talked about a lot in this blog, but here’s the bottom line: extremely thorough, consistently updated data will go a very long way for your agency. With data like that, you can create efficiencies in your various day-to-day processes, provide better customer service, and, eventually, have a really valuable book of business to pass on or sell.
There’s a lot that makes a book “valuable”. Check it all out in our eBook, A Valuable Book of Business: Preparing for sale, transfer, or growth in your agency.
[eBook] A Valuable Book of Business: Preparing for sale, transfer, or growth in your agency
What makes a book of business valuable? In this eBook, we'll discuss the factors of a valuable book, how to make your data more valuable, and how to maintain it going forward.