The 1970s are remembered for bell-bottoms, leisure suits, lava lamps, disco, and the Watergate Scandal. It was a tumultuous decade filled with changes in politics, fashion and technology. In this series, A Blast From The Agency Past, we start by visiting the 1970's insurance agency to take a closer look at how technology shaped operations. Stay tuned as we'll continue the journey on to the '80s next week.
Correspondence was made by telephone, a telegram or a letter—there was no email yet! Every letter was typed with a typewriter on a company letterhead, and a sheet of carbon paper, to produce a copy to be filed. Any mass communication or form letter to prospects, policyholders or agents would begin with the same process. Some automation would be available in the duplication process. Photocopy machines were very expensive and not in wide use at this time, so many agencies would have used the mimeograph to duplicate documents. Without the help of email automation services, communication was tedious, often expensive and correspondence could take weeks.
Although the personal computer came into existence by the end of the decade, computers were not used in office settings. There was certainly no CRM or AMS software to manage documents. Document filing was completely manual, each agency would employ it’s own process to manage leads, agents and policies. Ultimately, the ability to find and take action on the appropriate file hinged on the agency's system, the diligence of employees and the motivation of the agent.
Advances in technology
There were a lot of great advances in technology, many of which would affect the productivity of the insurance agency in the 1970s and into the following decades.
Post-it Notes in 1974
The impact is undeniable. Of all the inventions of the 1970s, the Post-it note, or sticky note, is one of the most timeless products. Even with the prevalence of digital reminders built into phones and computers, the sticky note endures.
IBM Selectric II Typewriter
The Selectric II was the workhorse of the 1970's office and were among the first to provide word processing capability in any form. The Selectric II was one of the first typewriters to include data storage—the IBM Mag Card II Typewriter provided space for up to 8,000 characters in electronic memory.
By 1970, a calculator could be made using just a few chips of low power consumption, allowing portable models to be powered from rechargeable batteries. Although commissions departments probably didn't relinquish their large adding machines, pocket calculators became more available and more practical for general use.
What do you remember? What were the 1970s like for your insurance agency? Leave us a comment below or send us a tweet!