Come to think of it, what would you do if your independent insurance agency was set on fire? What would be the first and only thing you’d think of grabbing and saving in order for the agency to still operate the next day?
As a digital agency owner, my answer is simple: I am confident enough to walk away from the fire and not grab a thing – not even a pencil. I know that my agency could still function and my staff would still be able to access and have copies of their paperwork and important files. This is because all my agency systems are cloud-based, which means that the important files are stored in a “cloud” or on an external server that is very accessible wherever as long as there is the Internet and of course a computer – any computer.
Based on the experiences of most of us, fire is not the only thing that could make your agency stop operating. Migrating from the old, pen-and-paper way to digital platforms and tools makes your agency a flexible and “grab and go” kind of agency – one that can operate anywhere, anytime, and open to serve clients no matter what the situation.
The tools you’ll need:
- A good laptop.
- An agency management system (AMS) will serve as a management and information system wherein you can keep track of all the information of your clients, run audits, and even go the extra mile and do renewals and communicate with the client with repeat contents. There are lots of AMS software namely: HawkSoft, QQCatatalyst, and the one I use AMS360. These and more AMS software have helpful and useful tools included in their package so it is important to gather information on what AMS you’re planning to use or on the one you are already using so you can utilize the AMS software at its best.
- A voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system usually allows you to make calls using a device that is connected to the Internet, which is very accessible nowadays. It would even be better if your VoIP comes with your AMS software fully utilizing the features of your AMS software and enjoying one of the many advantages of going digital.
- A functional website. A website would serve as your door into the big league of digital tools and marketing. These days, if your business is not online then you’re losing the business already. Insurance agencies that don’t have a website, I believe, are doomed to exit the insurance industry in the future.
Clients would want to have access to their information easily, gone are the days where you have to wait for the queue on a call to ask about your insurance, people are done waiting in long lines in offices just to see certain paperwork or ask a single question. A website provides accessibility.
People want easy access. Your website will serve as your stand-in and resource to keep people updated on either their information or your office even after hours of operation. The website does not have to be thoroughly detailed and complicated at first, you can keep it simple and basic. It does not have to be elaborate.
Once it is up and running, door after door of possibilities will keep on opening up for your agency adding more to your website. A website can also be used as a portal for training your own team, a service center for your clients, and a hub of claims videos, and more.
There are a lot more tools that you can use and utilize as you go through the process of migrating from traditional to digital, but these four are the core – the main tools you’ll need to get digital right away. Planning is good, but taking a step to make it is better. Don’t let the unnecessary things scare you and just go with the flow of trend and take that first step into the digital realm to realize the potential that digital tools have and let your customers experience a more convenient way of doing business and also expanding your agency’s capabilities by meeting your client halfway without being physically there. The tools are here, the initiative is on you. Let “shiny object syndrome” distract you from taking those first steps towards digital.
Condition your clients
If you have all the tools to go digital, stop putting it off. Take the first step and do your business digitally. Stop taking cash or check payments if you opt to do a digital payment system in your office, your clients would need to pay digitally to do business. Don’t do any physical paperwork and just type in on the computer if you want to get away with the piles of paper. You can’t keep postponing your transition to digital. It’s like sleep training a toddler – you have to immediately say no so they’d learn how to do business with you digitally and adapt to this change that would be convenient to both them and the agency.
In order to fully transition to digital, you’d need to set expectations with your customers and give them a chance to adapt to your changes in the office and doing business. It has come to me that customers will actually adapt to these changes and do business with you the way you want to do your business as long as you guide them in doing it and let them know beforehand about your plan to change and what they should expect once these changes are implemented. This would give them time to adjust and get used to working with you on this new technological advancement you are trying to pursue.
The use of a service email would be an ideal introduction for your customers when you transition to digital. You can send the clients an email with instructions on how to do certain things that you used to do in the office such as asking questions, signing papers, processing renewals, reminding renewals.
As an example, you can start replying to all business transactions such as service requests, every VIN update or modification, and any other changes that need to be made with “Absolutely, we definitely can take care of that for you. Please send your service request to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Your customers will just do as you say and do what you asked them (that they have) to do, consistency is the key here – stick to your changes and let your customers show that these changes are for the good of the agency and to also serve them better.
Embrace the process
Though it seems like you do have to catch up on the digital trends, transitioning to digital platforms would take time and you would have to try different things in order to know what works for your agency and what to avoid for your agency.
The transition process does not have to be perfect, you don’t get to be that good on the first try but it will get better in the long run. Aside from consistency, being transparent and open with your customers is the key to achieving a happy, functional transition to digital tools and operations.
Your customers are your biggest cheerleaders and supporters – they would surely want you to succeed! Let them know how enthusiastic you are to make these changes that are also for their sake and take feedback as constructive criticism to better your digital operations during the transition.
Independent insurance agencies are starting to realize the value and help of using digital platforms hence most agencies are now leaving the old pen and paper way to go digital.
Lead By Example
This year, with the pandemic and state or city lockdowns, even we have experienced great challenges on how to keep the quality of our service or just merely keep giving service to our customers and maintain the business.
Even though our offices are not on fire, having a backup plan is really important, and relying on cloud-based systems is the way to go, with this in mind we are now seeing and realizing the advantages and benefits of having a flexible toolset for your business or agency so that you can still operate and do your business online.
As I see it, independent insurance agencies are missing out on a lot of business and in the industry when they won’t take the opportunity or take the initiative to transition to digital tools and platforms. I believe that this would greatly reflect on their premium and renewals in the future if they still hesitate on using digital tools to do such transactions in their businesses.
Other insurance agencies that are on digital now are one step ahead of these agencies that are not. Sooner or later they will swoop in, woo them with their modern systems, and take their clients from those agencies that don’t have digital tools.
Hoping that independent insurance channels see this as our go signal to go digital.