Insurance agencies - both retail and wholesale - vary depending on size and the type of policies offered (auto, home, disability, life, health, etc). Yet behind the scenes, all agencies have the same objective: to equip reps to give each lead attention, resulting in policies sold. Right now, much of insurance operations are manual and time-consuming.
Hence the need for a makeover. Think of an 80s movie montage where a hero or heroine achieves a new look so they can win over their sweetheart. Sometimes, newer is just better.
Although agency management is notoriously complex, there are ways automation makes life easier. Each step of the backend process can be streamlined, from (1) agent recruitment, (2) contracting with carriers, (3) providing leads & sales tools, (4) sourcing quote data, (5) tracking the book of business, all the way to (6) paying agent commissions. If your agency is ready for a fabulous new haircut, check out these automation strategies compiled from our work in insurance:
Status quo: Agencies are always on the lookout for new talent. But it isn’t easy to grab the attention of promising young individuals as well as retain them. The insurance industry has high employee turnover.
The other hurdle is gathering personal information from new recruits. Traditionally this is done by emailing forms back-and-forth.
Makeover: The modern approach is to amp recruitment efforts via web forms. Applicants are drawn to a quick and easy application process. The HR department saves valuable time.
Also, by tracking digital records, the agency can analyze data on which applicants failed to complete the signup process and why.
Status quo: Once an agent meets the minimum licensing requirements, they must go through a contracting process to sell on behalf of large carriers. Sending agents’ information and applications to carriers and then reconciling the resulting approved or rejected responses can be tedious.
Makeover: Savvy agencies provide a digital portal where agents can select and complete carrier applications themselves. Salesforce Experience Cloud is a useful tool to create such a portal.
Communication to and from carriers can also be automated, typically with help from middleware like MuleSoft. For instance, emailing contracting applications from Experience Cloud to the carriers. Once the carrier has reviewed a particular batch of prospective applicants, they typically respond with a list of approved agents. The agency can simply feed this list into Salesforce, which will update all the records in one swoop.
As long as the carriers in question are compatible with middleware, these important workflows can be automated, freeing up agency teams for higher value projects.
Status quo: Carrier-approved agents must be set up for success. The agency is responsible for leads – at least in the beginning – and sales tools. When new leads come through, they need to be distributed correctly and without delay. With respect to sales tools, old-school spreadsheets just don’t pass muster. Same for traditional phone calls and note-taking.
Makeover: Leads sent by carriers can be fed to Salesforce. Skills-based routing is the natural next step. In a modern system, agents are swiftly assigned leads based on product expertise (auto vs. home insurance, etc) or location. Whether the agency is using a CTI system with their CRM or Salesforce’s Lightning Dialer, setting up call routing avoids headaches.
There are various ways to set up routing rules. For example, if a lead is already assigned to an agent in the system, the agency can choose to preserve that integrity of ownership. On the other hand, new leads can be routed to available agents based on area codes. Thanks to this automation, each prospective customer connects with the most appropriate agent.
For the agents, starting leads are only one piece of the sales puzzle. A truly fabulous agency provides them with a portal to view and manage prospective customers. Beyond organization solutions, these agents have sales tools at their fingertips:
(a) A click-to-dial system. As the name implies, this allows agents to simply click on a phone number to dial. During any phone conversation, activity is documented to the lead record automatically, obviating the need for typing notes.
(b) Marketing tools. After a while, agents are encouraged to find their own leads. To do so, they can use Ad Studio to spin up targeted campaigns. Nurturing existing leads is also simplified; Marketing Cloud allows agents to send emails based on pre-defined templates, eliminating guesswork.
Status quo: Sourcing quotes from carriers is a crucial step. Often, while an agent is on the phone with a lead, they have to juggle different carrier portals, entering the pertinent details in each one and gathering quotes. Plus, the agent likely has distinct login credentials for each carrier portal. Talk about a lot to remember!
The agent compiles the quotes into a single document to share the results with the prospect. If the lead chooses to move forward, the agent submits the new customer details to the lucky carrier. This back-and-forth can be an energy drain.
Makeover: Middleware technology can be a huge help here. In this high-tech scenario, the agent collects the data provided by the prospect, selects the desired carriers, then submits with the click of a button. MuleSoft retrieves the desired quotes from each carrier. The aggregated results display to the agent, all on one screen.
It’s much easier for the agent to present all the options to the prospect this way. Once the customer chooses a policy, MuleSoft helps, taking the finalized quote into the carrier system.
As long as the carriers are compatible with middleware, the agency spares time and energy.
Status quo: Scrupulously tracking business is a must across industries and even more so in insurance. For the individual agent, this entails perusing each provider portal for details on past policies. Such a wealth of information stored in multiple locations quickly gets unwieldy.
The makeover: Since the modern agency provides reps a portal, reviewing all policies sold across carriers is simple. With this tech in place, when an existing customer calls, the relevant policy details pop up on the CTI system. Agents can scan information about the particular customer right in the moment, without scrambling. This setup also eases renewals, allowing agents to market before policies expire and beat competitors to the punch.
Status quo: Manual calculations for agent commissions are a headache (ask anyone charged with this task). Sales reps get different payouts depending on their level and agreement with the agency. Commissions may need to be split among multiple agents or doled out according to intricate incentive plans. To complicate matters, carriers routinely publish new specifications for agent compensation.
For the agents, all this means limited visibility into earned commissions and even confusion as to why they get a certain amount on payday.
The makeover: Automation lifts the burden of commission calculations. Technology like the Dinero app effortlessly accounts for who sold each policy, that individual agent’s level, how much they can expect to receive based on carrier guidelines, how much is due to the agency and more. Whenever a new policy is registered in Salesforce, the commission management system automatically forecasts how much pay an agent can expect. Also, as carriers regularly send lists of commissions paid back to agencies, an automated system reconciles variations.
Reps working at these savvy agencies benefit from real-time visibility into commissions, which acts as a motivator. And eliminating manual errors means agents aren’t surprised on payday.
Houses often get makeovers. Just think of buying an outdated building and turning it into the envy of the neighborhood. It’s a positive process with far-reaching implications; the house is more attractive to others while each individual room is more pleasant for the owners.
In the same way, automating agency management spruces up each step of the behind-the-scenes insurance process. Collaborating with carriers gets easier and so does attracting digital natives to open agent positions.
The work involved for this transformation might seem intimidating; thankfully, you don’t need to go it alone. The right partner can help with this transformation.
Contact Accelerize 360 with any questions.