IBM estimated that poor quality data costs the US economy around $3.1 trillion per year. That is a staggering number to think about and a stat that proves just how important it is for businesses to maintain clean data in order to be efficient, smart, and most importantly; profitable.
For insurance agencies, maintaining clean data can quickly become overwhelming. Think about the amount and complexity of data most agencies are maintaining -- it’s not just basic contact information and notes. Agencies are storing and tracking contacts, relationships, groups, policies, agents, carriers, commissions, etc. and need to tie all of these things together in a way that makes sense and is easy to navigate.
Garbage in, garbage out
Used to express the idea that in computing and other spheres, incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output.
From the definition above, the "garbage out” or "faulty output" shows up in your agency's efficiency, decision making, and ultimately your profitability. If you're running an agency with "garbage" data then it is certainly losing you money.
Cleaning your data
Unfortunately there’s no magic solution here. Cleaning up bad data simply comes down to taking the time to comb through it in spreadsheets. Microsoft offers some tips for cleaning your data in Excel spreadsheets here. A helpful way to break your data into smaller, more manageable sections is to use your agency management system (if you have one) to find areas of bad data and then export it, clean it, and re-import it.
A last resort option if your data is in really bad shape is to find a data cleansing software or company that works with you to clean your data. The reason this is a last resort though is because it is error prone, costly, and possibly insecure.
While this process of cleaning your data can seem daunting, it will always be worth it.
Maintaining clean data
If your data is already clean or you’ve recently taken the steps to get it clean, now is the time to make sure it stays that way. With the right software and some sound processes in place, maintaining clean data becomes ingrained in your day-to-day.
Using the correct agency management system for your needs is essential to maintaining clean data. If you're using a generic CRM and trying to force it to work for you you’ll quickly have custom fields all over, tags that don’t make sense, and fields that are being used in ways they weren’t designed for. An industry-specific agency management system that’s designed for your niche is the best option for maintaining clean data. The fields you need will be available and you won’t have to customize everything to work for you.
Having sound processes in place will ensure that your agency management system stays clean even as you grow. When everyone in your agency is entering data in the same manner and following the same procedures there will be less confusion about where to find things and what certain things mean. You run into major issues when multiple people start entering data and using the software in their own ways. What means something to one person might not mean the same thing to someone else and one person might enter certain data into a field while someone else is entering the same data into a different field. Creating processes or standard operating procedures can be as simple as writing out the step-by-step process in a document and training all users on it.
An even better option that can help maintain clean data in your database is to use automated workflows. In AgencyBloc, users can automate multiple actions to happen based on certain triggers. This removes human error and creates efficiency.
If you're in the position of needing to get your data clean and needing to get the proper software and/or processes in place, the best option is to find the correct agency management system for your needs first and then clean your data to fit that system. Think of this process like moving to a new house. You start by organizing everything that you have, and then you throw out the things that you don't want or need. You're left with only the stuff that matters on moving day, making the move much easier. You end up with a clean and organized house to live in. The same is true for moving to a new agency management system.
5 Steps to Choosing an Agency Management System
Before getting into the process of searching for a new agency management system, understand 5 basic steps to make the process easier and more manageable.
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