The People Behind the Product
From our annual survey, we found that 59% of insurance agencies were using either an agency management system (AMS) or a CRM to manage their book of business last year.
Every day, agencies are researching software vendors to decide which system is right for their agency. But, unfortunately, what some agencies overlook is whether the people behind the software are also the right fit.
If you have a choice between two comparable products, but one company is more personable, responsive, reliable, and credible, you’re obviously going to choose that company.
Your choice in a software vendor for your insurance agency is now more important than ever. As more choices pop up, you have to do your research into the people behind the product to know whether this system will be a beneficial, long-term solution for you.
Many of the software choices you are making impact vital areas of your business. You should be looking for a true partnership with your software vendor, not just a product. If you found out that the company behind your software was actually a “side gig” for someone, or that the people responsible for supporting the technology are outsourced and not dedicated to the platform, would you still choose that product?
In our eBook, 5 Steps for Selecting the Right Agency Management System for Your Agency, we discuss this a bit in Step 3: Research Your Vendors. Let’s dive deeper here in this blog.
Research Your Vendors
There are numerous things you can do to get to know the people behind the product, but there are four particular areas I want to point out:
- Company Details / History
- Social Media / Online Presence
- Security / Reliability
1. COMPANY DETAILS / HISTORY
Forget about the software itself for a second, and dig into the company and its people. A simple Google search can yield a lot of results, but also seek out their company’s LinkedIn page.
Who are their employees? How many employees of theirs can you find on LinkedIn? What is the makeup of the employees (job titles)? Are there contracted or outsourced employees? What is the history of their company? What’s their story? What is their mission and their values?
Lastly, are they self-funded or do they have investors or venture capitalists to answer to?
Why this is important:
Understanding the makeup of the company can help you identify the type of relationship you’ll have with them on an ongoing basis, who you might be in contact with, and what backgrounds the employees come from. You’ll also be able to identify any potential conflicts of interest.
Understanding the company’s history and their story helps you identify if they fit with your agency culturally and whether their values align with yours. Working with a software vendor that has a mission you admire, values you share, and history you respect sets you up for a mutually beneficial relationship. Remember: your book of business is far too valuable to risk making the wrong choice in a vendor.
Lastly, the financials behind the company are important because a very high number of investor-funded startups fail, devastating both employees and clients. It is estimated that “70-75% of venture-backed startups don’t return the money investors put in—and of those, more than half return nothing.” Moral of the story: You don’t want to choose a vendor that will only be around for a short while.
2. REVIEWS & REFERRALS
Referrals are the most important thing agencies consider when shopping for software, our 2020 Insurance Agency Technology survey showed.
Consider: Who do your peers recommend? How many testimonials do they have on their website? How many reviews do they have on Google or technology review sites? Do they have any video testimonials? Any case studies that reflect your agency?
Why this is important:
Who others recommend and what they say about a company you’re considering doing business with is usually one of the most unbiased ways to get opinions and answers.
Video testimonials are a plus to look for because this means their clients are pleased enough to spend some effort creating a video to speak about the company and its product. Not to mention, it’s easier to see a client’s emotions about the company through video than it is through a written testimonial.
Also, case studies allow you to visualize what your agency might accomplish with the company and its software. You’ll probably first be looking for evidence of increased productivity, saved resources, and your other goals you have, but don’t forget to look for what the clients say about working with the company’s employees. Do they mention if customer support (or Client Success Specialists, as we call them) were helpful and responsive?
Bottom line: seeing the experience others have had with the product and its people are both important to consider before you purchase.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA / ONLINE PRESENCE
How much attention a company pays to their social media and online presence and how active they are with it gives you an insight into how responsive and conversational they’ll be with you. Not to mention, it shows how proud they are of their product and their people.
Consider: Do they regularly post updates to their social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)? Do they share others’ content that is relevant to you? Does their tone on social media reflect people you’d like to partner with?
Why this is important: Like I mentioned, how attentive a company is to their social media could be a strong indicator of how attentive they’ll be to you as a client. Though the Marketing content you see online and the service you receive from Client Success come from separate teams, a company’s overall culture should be reflected across all teams.
4. SECURITY / RELIABILITY
Once you’ve vetted the people behind the software, look at the technical details behind it. We wrote a separate blog discussing this in depth, Is It Secure? The Questions You Should Ask Insurtech Vendors.
Consider: Where is your data hosted? What provider does the vendor use to host the data? How often is the data backed up? In what ways can you retrieve your data as a whole? Who owns your data?
Why this is important: Some agencies shopping for software are unsure what questions to ask or which terminology to know when it comes to security and reliability, so their concerns or questions might go unheard. Use the blog mentioned above to dig deep into the questions you should ask and, more importantly, the answers you want to hear. Again, your book of business is too valuable to make the wrong choice here.
Investing in a Partner
If you’re still questioning why any of this matters, ask yourself: Do you want to simply buy software, or do you want to begin a lasting, beneficial partnership?
Now more than ever, relationships matter. As technology evolves and becomes a part of every single thing we do, we cannot overlook the importance of the people and the support behind the technology.
Earlier, I mentioned our eBook: 5 Steps for Selecting the Right Agency Management System for Your Agency. Use this as a guide for everything that goes into your insurance software purchase decision: identifying the products, researching the company, and working with your team. Or, if you’d rather listen to the steps, check out our recorded webinar.
[PDF Download] Beyond the Product Vendor Research Tool
Use this tool to learn what you should be researching about any software vendor you're thinking of doing business with. We've provided note pages, as well, to guide you through the process.
This blog was originally published on 5/8/2018. It has been updated and republished on 1/13/2021.