An agency management system is the largest technology expense for virtually any agency regardless of the particular vendor or platform. When well managed, these systems will help an agency maximize internal productivity and provide a better customer experience. Unfortunately, all too often these systems are not used to their full capacity.
Agency management systems are complicated. Learning how to use all of the functionality provided takes time and effort. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many agencies and spend time watching how CSAs do their work I seldom meet people who don’t want to improve what they do and how they do it.
Following are some of the most common underutilized functions in an agency management system.
PROPOSALS AND TEMPLATES
For those systems that have an integrated proposal and/ or template capability, staff often does not fully utilize the merge functions. This “mail merge” function allows common boilerplate content to be automatically inserted into correspondence. Proposals can be generated that include policy information merged from the client record.
When merge templates are not well-defined, staff has to take time to edit and change the merged document. A lot of time is wasted by individuals editing single letters or proposals. This is especially problematic when proposals are created from the system. How many times have you had to completely redo a proposal because the merged document was not correct?
Instead of editing each letter after it is merged, taking the time to make sure template letters, proposals and summary of insurance are set up correctly will save time and increase staff productivity. Create a process where agency staff can notify the person who can change the template with what needs to be changed.
Many agency management systems have a module that will track carrier marketing activities. Tracking carrierspecific information about submissions will provide agency management with valuable information. Knowing the number of submissions, declines to quote, quoted but not sold, and quoted and sold for each insurance company the agency does business with provides management with valuable information. Insurance companies track this information. You should, too.
This also goes by the name of download and real-time. Fully using all of the upload/download/real time functions available to the agency continues to be a challenge. Improvements are constantly being made in the number of insurance companies implementing these functions. The agency should make sure they are fully using all carrier communications capabilities available.
Every keystroke saved is an increase in productivity and profitability.
Any agency that has an IVANS account (a mailbox) can request a customized report specifically generated for the agency. The report lists the insurance companies with whom the agency has an existing download relationship. Included for each insurance company are all of the current capabilities and the amount of transactions being used by agency staff for each type.
This report will provide agency management with a real-time picture into the functions currently being used in the agency. One agency manager I spoke with requests this report quarterly so he can make sure the agency is maximizing the available productivity benefits.
ENSURING ACCURATE DATA
Agency management systems provide places (fields) to store a tremendous amount of information about clients and prospects. I audit a lot of agency system databases and find that many agencies do not have quality data. Incomplete data and/or inaccurate data impacts agency productivity. We recommend agencies audit their system database to make sure the data being entered into your system is complete and accurate.
If the basic information within the agency database is not accurate and consistent, then any reports generated from the bad data will not be very useful. Agency owners complain to me a lot that they are not able to obtain the information out of their system they need to effectively manage the agency. Often the problem can be traced to bad data.
Many agencies continue to use the standard reports included with their management system. You should explore additional reports that might be available to help you better manage your agency.
One example is monthly production reports. Agencies often use some other means (like an Excel spreadsheet) to track new business and monthly commissions. You should be able to pull this information directly from your management system and eliminate the redundant data entry. Many reports can now be exported from the management system directly into spreadsheets for specific analysis.
Several years ago, if you didn’t like a report, you were stuck with it – no customization. Many systems now provide report writing functionality, which allows you to more easily create custom reports. Make sure you understand the report options that are available within your system and how you can use these options to create custom reports.
STEPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SYSTEM
1) Inventory all of the processes you currently have in your agency. You may not realize the workarounds created in the past to solve a problem that are no longer needed.
2) Research what’s actually available within your system today. Vendors are constantly adding new functionality, so make sure you know what you already have that you could be using but are not.
3) Utilize user group information. Connect with other users of your system and ask what their top three new features are and how they use them.
4) Create a reward program to encourage staff to come up with new ideas or better ways to improve productivity and the client experience.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on areas in your particular agency management system you should explore to make sure your staff is getting the full benefit of your investment.
Reprinted with permission from Steve Anderson. For more information please visit www.SteveAnderson.com
This article was published in the October 2019 edition of Colorado Insurance News (COIN). To view more articles and read the whole COIN, click here.