The Best Way to Communicate: Visually
The human brain is more geared to understanding and comprehending pictorial forms of communication than written ones. For many millennia, people communicated via hieroglyphics, art, and images to convey messages to one another. This holds true to this day in our art, movies, and gestures.
In the same way, humans are programmed to recognize patterns and understand them. We use them every day in various ways and have done so since infanthood when we played with blocks and puzzles. Our brains are engineered to navigate and understand patterns, decipher meaning from them, and apply them.
Research has proven that visual communication is faster and better understood. Venngage found:
- 65% of us are visual learners
- Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than non-visual communication or text
- 50% of our brain is active in visual processing
In general, it’s easier for people to process images than it is for them to process text.
Also referred to as data visualization, visual data is a general term that describes an effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends, and correlations that might undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with visual data.
Visual data isn’t a new concept. We’ve been creating charts and graphs since we were kids to explain concepts and to repurpose information. I can clearly remember making many Venn Diagrams as a child in school to understand concepts better and learn how to do analysis.
Using visual data in business isn’t a new concept either, but it is one that is growing as we’re expanding the ways we gather data from our business. The use of visual data is really about taking your big data and converting it to smart data.
Let’s discuss this a bit more.
Your business is filled with big data. It’s all of your data. Every single point you’ve mined and gathered from a variety of outlets. For many, it’s unintelligible, but it holds a wealth of information that can be unlocked. This “unlocking” is the process of turning it into smart data.
So what is smart data? Here’s how Wired explains it:
Smart Data means information that actually makes sense. It is the difference between seeing a long list of numbers referring to weekly sales vs. identifying the peaks and troughs in sales volume over time. Algorithms turn meaningless numbers into actionable insights. Smart data is data from which signals and patterns have been extracted by intelligent algorithms. Collecting large amounts of statistics and numbers bring little benefit if there is no layer of added intelligence.
Check out our video discussing this even more:
Learn more about using smart data in our free eBook What is Smart Data? Using your data to grow your insurance agency.
Connecting Visual Data With Smart Data
Visual data is a component of smart data.
Remember, smart data helps you to identify the patterns in your data over time. A great way to digest that data? Visually. Using visual tools like a line or bar graph can help you better understand trends and digest information faster.
Visual data can be your launching point to see where you want to dig further, what you want to learn more about, and help discern direction for you analytically.
Say you want to see the coverage/policy makeup of your business. You could use a pie graph that shows what percentage of your business is ACA, Medicare, long term care, ancillary, life, group health, etc. From there, you can dive deep into those specified areas to understand the further breakdown within each segment.
Another way to use these visuals is to uncover possible problems. Say you see a policy type or carrier on a downward trend for sales. Noticing that trend gives you the wherewithal to jump in and learn the whys. Without this base, many trends and opportunities can go unrecognized as you dredge through mounds of big data.
Using Visual Data in Your Agency
When it comes to using and sharing visual data, there are 7 major benefits you’ll find:
- Better analysis
- Quick action
- Identifying patterns
- Finding errors
- Understanding the story
- Exploring business insights
- Grasping the latest trends
One way to access this type of data without having to mine the data and make the graphs yourself is to invest in an agency management system (AMS) with real-time analytics, like AgencyBloc. The benefit of a system like this is that it can automatically transform your big data into smart data.
In AgencyBloc, we call this Dashboard Analytics. Dashboard Analytics presents the data stored in your book of business in smart, real-time graphs that give you insight into different parts of your business.
With this information, you can quickly answer questions like:
- Which lead source is best/worst
- Which agents are your top producing
- What the breakdown of your policies are
- Which policy types are thriving/declining
- What the breakdown of your carriers is
- Which carrier is your top producing
Now, it’s important to note, not all software choices will have this capability. Make sure to ask your software rep at the start if they can display real-time graphs that break down your data into easily digestible information.
Where to Start
We’ve discussed how effective visual data can be in sharing information, but how you use it will highly depend on your role and position.
For this reason, it’s essential to be able to personalize the graphs you’re viewing to make sure they’re pertinent to you. This helps you to stay more focused and less distracted by all of the other stuff going on.
With Dashboard Analytics, you can build a personalized dashboard to reflect everything you need to see. Then, every morning when you log in, the first thing you see is all those graphs and charts.
That way, you’re ready to go at the start of every day.
If you’re in a leadership position, you will likely need to share the information you learn from these graphs with others. By having graphs ready-made for you in real-time, you can present the most updated information during team meetings, private 1-on-1s, or to other leadership members. It’s easy to quickly bring up your AgencyBloc account or to take a screenshot of it to put in your slides for everyone to see.
Likewise, if you’re in a sales manager position and regularly meet with your sales agents, it’s helpful to have the charts to drive your conversation. This information can be helpful in two distinct ways:
- Help your agent understand where they’re at
- Give you insight into how you can help that agent grow
Just like business, personal growth is crucial to a thriving agency, and you want to see your agents perform their best. It’s far easier to share a graph to help them understand their performance than a bunch of numbers. Providing them with pictorial graphs gives you both a basis from which to work and grow with the same knowledge.
Throughout your agency, the use of graphs and charts to convey ideas and messages is incredibly important. You’re busy and have a thousand other things to do, so make it easier on yourself and share information in a way your peers can understand.
No one wants to look through and decipher a bunch of big data; you’ll be far more successful (and efficient!) if you use visual data to communicate.
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This blog was originally published on November 27, 2018. It has been updated and republished on December 15, 2020.
By Allison Babberl on December 15, 2020 in Technology
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 Kuzmeski More articles