BY TOM AVERY
Without fail, Q4 is the busiest time of year, every year.
Remember last year? Didn’t it feel like there was way too much work to do? If you’re staring at the looming fourth quarter with dread, you’re not alone.
Improving your insurance agency’s efficiency now can make a huge difference later. Not only will your year-end be less hectic, but you’ll be able to use that time to deliver better service to your clients — ensuring you’ll retain more of your book of business.
Here’s why greater insurance agency efficiency is so important, and how you can achieve optimum efficiency for your business.
Manual processes are costing your agency money.
If you’re relying on manual processes to manage agency processes, what you’re actually committing to is a lot of cut and paste.
By having a manual process across multiple documents and platforms, insurance agencies not only waste time but also increase the likelihood of error.
If documents are updated in one place but not another, that mistake could end up costing you a client.
Let’s say you want to create benefit books for each of your clients. You have to pull each of their policies up on one screen, then paste the info into your benefit book template line by line in Microsoft Word. Who has time for that?
Here’s a free resource to help with that: https://hey.signal-sync.com/benefits-book-free-download
And if there are carrier updates, let’s hope that your team remembers to manually adjust the information for all relevant clients. Otherwise, that’s even more time spent having to hunt for each document every time a rule or section is changed.
Manual processes hurt client relationships
Manual processes also make it harder to add new services for your clients (and you know how important going above and beyond for your clients is, especially with the new compensation disclosure requirements). If you have to pull information from one place just to update it in another for a service that feels like a “nice-to-have,” then it’ll be tempting for you to just skip it.
(It’ll be even easier when you don’t have to do any extra work because your client is no longer your client…)
Consider this: according to the 2022 National Underwriter (NU)/PIA Independent Insurance Agent Survey [https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2022/02/07/independent-insurance-agents-showcase-can-do-attitude/], agents claimed that their biggest points of differentiation were relationships (84.5%) and service (83.1%). If you’re relying on your relationships and services to be the reason why clients give you their business, think of what you could do
to actually set yourself apart from the competition with more time.
The real-life impact of insurance agency efficiency
Let’s explore a brief case study of an agency that found greater efficiency.
This agency was using non-connected solutions like Microsoft Word to complete benefit books. When they connected their solutions with an agency management system, the office recovered two hours of time per client during the critical fourth quarter.
Now, two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but there are only 510 hours of time available per employee during each quarter. Since the agency has 50 clients, that’s 100 hours of time (or 20%) that was recaptured.
That extra time allowed the agency to bring on more clients and also have more time to perform proactive services to protect their book of business [https://www.benefitspro.com/2022/04/14/compensation-disclosure-3-questions-proactive-brokers-are-asking/].
What would you do with the extra time?
How to improve your insurance agency’s efficiency
Now that you know the importance of investing in systems that will make your insurance agency more efficient, here’s how you can spend less time copying and pasting and more time actually caring for your clients.
First, take inventory of every routine service you perform related to servicing each client, such as:
● Benefit books
● New commission disclosures
● ERISA compliance documents
● Wrap documents
● Eligibility systems
● Tracking service issues
● Commission tracking
Then, note next to each task which platforms are required to complete these functions, for example:
● Document creation platforms
(Microsoft Office, Adobe)
● Customer relationship management (CRM) software
● Benadmin systems
Pay particular attention to which of these functions are in non-connected solutions (i.e. not tied to a database).
Next, determine which of these services can be made more efficient
by eliminating duplicate data entry. If you enter one piece of data once, how many other processes does it need to be translated to?
The goal of this exercise is to eliminate as much duplicate data entry as possible — like having to tell your ERISA third-party administrator the client’s address, which plans they have, their EIN, etc.
An insurance agency gains efficiency by utilizing solutions that allow you to update data once and deploy it across several processes.
Start increasing your insurance agency’s efficiency
Duplicate data entry across non-connected systems is bad for the agency. Instead of winning new business and wowing clients, you’re hitting Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V all day long. Consider how technology like an agency management solution can help you modernize your firm and provide better service.
TOM AVERY is the founder and president of Innovative Broker Services, an independent boutique brokerage company and a Top-10 Employee Benefits Agency for 12 consecutive years (Sacramento Business Journal). Tom is also the founder and president of Signal Sync — an insurance industry SaaS and agency automation solution designed for the independent agency. Tom continually writes regarding the many challenges faced by today’s agencies and has developed Signal Sync to overcome these challenges.