Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Management

Tech Smart!

Make Your Job a Day @ the Beach

One of Utah-based Bennion Taylor Insurance’s clients knew he was in trouble even before the red lights started flashing on the police car in his rearview mirror. He had left his proof of insurance card at home. However, just as the officer whipped out his ticket book, he came up with a solution. Using his smartphone, he called his insurance agent who quickly copied, scanned, and sent the card as a photo attachment to his phone. No ticket was issued. Insurance data in real time—made possible thanks to agency management system technology.

While this is only one example of the benefits of technology solutions in the insurance industry, it is clear that customers today are increasingly discerning and want more engaging interactions while doing business. They expect to have online access to their policies, allowing them to edit information, print identification cards, or initiate claims from any location. Agents are starting to feel the pressure of this changing landscape, and are looking for ways to drive efficiencies across their organizations to maximize their profitability. In many cases, technology is the answer.

Real Time, Right Now
In this world of 24/7 connectivity, successful agencies will be those who provide customers with the information they need, when and how they need it. Although some agencies view new technology solutions as too complicated, too expensive, or just not a priority, forward-thinking, innovative agencies are discovering the numerous benefits of implementing the right technology at the right time.

For Nancy Sattler of Sattler Insurance having access to an around-the-clock portal that enables agents and customers to exchange information in real time is one of the most important reasons for investing in technology.

Technology in the hands of consumers also is changing the buying landscape. As Ivans, Inc. discovered in its 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey, 43 percent of agents surveyed thought the most threatening issue to their bottom line was “a customer shopping around for more quotes,” while 19 percent said it was “increased Internet sales on carrier websites.”

Today, customers can easily gather and compare insurance quotes online and are less reliant on agents to source information. High-quality customer service paired with the ability to provide policy information in real time is a valuable competitive advantage. To provide faster service and retain customers—and stay competitive with the rate information available on the Web—agents need to achieve greater connectivity between their insurance carrier partners.

Why is this important? According to research completed by Gartner in 2010 on data management and analytics, having a 360-degree view of the customer, which is generated from data from the source systems, and having follow-up customer analytics from mining this data is critical. Gartner has documented that most property & casualty and life insurers lack a single view of customers. Without this, Gartner said, it is impossible to proactively determine service needs, improve marketing, and identify customer attrition based on customer insight. 

Caton-Hosey Vice President Ann Pinel has nothing but praise for the ease and efficiency of management technologies. “We are trying to touch our small-to-mid market clients, as well as our personal lines clients, more than we did in the past,” Pinel says. “Automation is allowing us to do that.”

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