A Guide for Your Agency’s Digital Acceleration
Come to think of it, what would you do if your independent insurance agency had a 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.
Tools You’ll Need To Digital Agency Acceleration
In any company, this is where anyone would work on and become that main tool to look over the information of the company, the clients, and the insurance companies your agency works with.
New and latest trends in communication technology are now shaping our businesses. Nowadays most people keep up with the latest and greatest
An Agency Management System (AMS)
An agency management system 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 companies available for your independent agency. Some of these are Agency Matrix, Better Agency, NowCerts, Nexsure, Applied Epic, EZ lynx, HawkSoft, QQCatatalyst, or Veruna. And the one we use for our digitally accelerated independent insurance agency is AMS360. These and other similar software like AMS have helpful and useful tools included in their package.
A Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Phone System
This type of phone system usually allows you to make calls using a device that is connected to the Internet. You can connect to a hard phone or a softphone, meaning your cell phone or headphones attached to your computer. Another added benefit is that some VOIP companies like our VOIP provider DYL. They offer integration with your AMS.
In addition, some VOIP carriers also have built-in CRM tools. This can be a huge benefit to agencies that are looking to track the number of inbound and outbound calls. Integrating your VOIP system with your AMS will allow you to fully utilize and enjoy 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 facing the doom of exiting the insurance industry one day. Websites need to be secure behind the great informative content. They are on reputable web hosting service platforms like GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, and the like.
Clients want to have access to their information easily, the days where you have to wait for the queue on a call to ask about your insurance at behind us. People are never going to be happy with 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. And there is potential in using your website 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 utilize as you go through the process from traditional to digital. Planning is good, but taking a step to make it is better. Don’t let unnecessary things scare you. Just go with the flow of trends. Take that first step into the digital realm to realize the potential that digital tools have. Let your customers experience a more convenient way of doing business. Expanding your agency’s capabilities by meeting your client halfway without being physically there can be amazing! 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 will give them time to adjust and get the hang of 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 email@example.com.”
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.
Team AIS Leads 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 traffic in the industry. In not taking the opportunity or initiative to transition to digital tools and platforms, there’s a lot lost. I believe that this would greatly reflect on their premium and renewals in the future.
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 and take clients from agencies that haven’t gone digital.
Hoping that independent insurance channels see this as our go signal to go digital just as we have!