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Customer Appreciation: Helping Protect What Matters Most

July 20, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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As businesses, our customers are core to the mission we live and work by each and every day. It is critical to keep customers happy in order to retain them and remain successful. If customers don’t remain at the forefront of our daily efforts, consumers will quickly find a new provider. In fact, customer turnover caused by declining loyalty and poor customer experiences represents as much as $470 billion Life and Property & Casualty premiums globally according to Accenture.

To prevent customer turnover, businesses must ask themselves, “What can we do to make sure our customers are happy with our products and services?” At Applied, our mission is to strive every day to provide our customers with the technology they need to protect and safeguard what matters most in their clients’ lives. Our core values hold us accountable for the service we provide, including “to be results-oriented” and “to exceed expectations.” Both values focus on striving for excellence and our commitment to our customers. This commitment is evaluated and demonstrated every year in our Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, which is consistently around 94%, but that does not allow for compliance. It is critical that we remain steadfast in innovation so we can always fulfill our customers’ needs, so that you can deliver on the core promise of insurance – to protect what matters most. And it is the greatest opportunity and core purpose of the industry to deliver anytime, anywhere service to the insured in their time of need.

What kind of services are your insureds looking for?

Today’s consumers are looking for quick and easy service. It is important for independent insurance agencies to provide their clients with the technologies they seek in order to stay competitive.

Here are 3 service considerations to ensure you keep – and attract – customers:

  • Can your customers reach you 24/7? Nowadays, people can access all kinds of information anytime, anywhere with the internet. It is important for you to provide that same luxury to your insureds. With self-service software, customers can access important insurance documents, even when the office is closed.
  • How available are you? Consumers are accustomed to in-person service or calling to receive service, as well as logging in to a client portal on their smart phones or computers for services like online bill pay and text message updates. Companies like Amazon and Uber have made omnichannel servicing a must-have for businesses. Insurance agencies that provide an online client portal and mobile app for their policyholders will see a significant increase in customer retention and satisfaction.
  • Are you providing online convenience from the start? The buyer’s journey starts online, and accurate quoting integrated into your agency’s website easily converts prospects into clients. The customer experience is enhanced with access to a broad range of insurers and an easy and quick process of securing insurance products.

In the changing insurance landscape, it is important for agencies to stay up to date on the latest technologies so they can consistently provide the best service to their policyholders. At Applied, we strive to always provide the software agencies need to gain a competitive advantage. When we work together, we will all see success and ultimately help to protect what matters most.

Comment below on how you drive customer satisfaction at your agency.

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Applied Net 2017

July 06, 2017

by Applied Communications
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Each year, thousands of insurance agents, brokers, industry experts and Applied team members from North America, the UK and Ireland come together for 4 full days of learning opportunities, access to the latest technologies and world-class networking events. As the largest gathering of insurance professionals, Applied Net provides the arena for agents and brokers to discuss how to embrace digital transformation and capitalize on new business opportunities.

Take advantage of the opportunities created by the Digital Transformation of Insurance at Applied Net 2017 and prepare your business for success in our digital world.

Register Now for Applied Net 2017 >

IVANS Index: More Jobs and Better Wages Are Pushing Workers’ Comp

June 22, 2017

by Matt Foran
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

Monthly Update: Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation has been the one holdout product in the IVANS Index to remain in negative territory since the beginning of the year. So what finally pushed Workers’ Comp into positive territory? Exposure.

The states that contributed most to the uptick include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Many of these states have pushed for Workers’ Comp rate decreases over the past year. The Colorado Division of Insurance saw a 2.4% decrease in Workers’ Comp rates effective January 1, 2017.

The one substantial state difference in our analysis is Florida. Given the enacted state rate change, effective December 2016, Florida insureds have seen an average Workers’ Comp rate change of 10.2% since the beginning of the year. In addition to the state mandated rate increase, Florida has also seen strong economic growth with an April 4.5% unemployment rate, 2.9% wage increase and 3.1% quarterly growth rate.

Economic improvement in these states is contributing to the move upward in the IVANS Index. States that contributed to the upward Workers’ Comp movement have strong economic results, particularly strong unemployment rates, wage growth and quarterly growth rates.

There are many states with near all-time best unemployment rates. Even states like Illinois and Texas, with 4.7% and 5.0% unemployment rates, respectively, are still within 1 point of their best ever rate.

The average wage growth was 0.1%, with most states impacting Workers’ Comp showing far more positive results. The combination of strong unemployment figures and wage growth appear to have acted as a contributing force to move Workers’ Comp above zero.

Future actions by states like New York, where the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has approved a rate decrease of 4.5% effective October 1st, may cause Workers’ Comp to move back into negative territory sooner than later.

Further analysis of Workers’ Comp movements will be included in the IVANS Index Q2 Report.

View the full IVANS Index Q1 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Digital Agency Scorecard: How Does Your Agency Rank?

June 08, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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Digital technology is rapidly transforming the way independent insurance agencies run their businesses. From accounting and administration to customer service and sales, technology has automated these processes so less time is spent on manual, administrative tasks. Agencies that have embraced digital technology benefit from higher employee productivity, better customer service and greater profitability – earning their designation as digital agencies.

The Digital Agency

Digital agencies capitalize on five areas of technology, including a foundational agency management system, data analytics, insurer connectivity, cloud and mobile technology.

  1. A foundational agency management system: Leverage a single system to efficiently manage customer relationships, policy and benefits administration, sales automation, financial accounting processes and document management across the entire business in one application.
  1. Data analytics: Make more informed business decisions through data analytics software to uncover insights on client and business operations.
  1. Insurer connectivity: Communicate and exchange data securely and seamlessly from insurer systems directly to your management systems to reduce manual processes and deliver faster, more complete service to your insureds.
  1. Cloud technology: Secure your data and improve performance by moving core software applications to offsite data centers.
  1. Mobile technology: Provide insureds and staff anytime access to insurance information with information readily available via mobile devices.

The Digital Agency Scorecard

Applied‘s Digital Agency Scorecard measures an agency’s digital transformation against their peers, based on industry benchmarks developed from agents’ answers to the Applied Digital Agency Survey. In this survey, independent insurance agents worldwide are asked a series of 15 questions about the use of technology in their businesses. Responses provide data, which is used to calculate a digital score for each survey respondent and identifies a baseline for technology adoption. Each year, the survey is distributed to agents around the world to gain an understanding of the current technology adoption trends across the industry, keeping the Scorecard up to date.

Businesses scoring 80% or above across all core competencies are considered to be digital agencies, having adopted most of the key drivers of digital transformation. By asking questions about technologies already implemented, the Digital Agency Scorecard also identifies which factors can be improved upon to become more of a digital agency, ultimately increasing productivity and profitability.

It is critical for agencies to evaluate their use of technology in order to grow their businesses. Digital agencies benefit in ways such as ease of doing business, better customer service and greater connectivity to insurers. Agencies can use the Applied Digital Agency Scorecard to see where they rank in relation to their peers, as well as assess how they can improve their operations through technology. Get your score now and learn how your business can take advantage of the latest industry technology trends to remain competitive.

Get Your Score >

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

Horse Racing and Insurance: Betting on Better Business Performance

May 24, 2017

by Michael Howe
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Big hats, seersucker suits, Hot Brown sandwiches and My Old Kentucky Home. These things are synonymous with the world-famous Kentucky Derby, run each May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 1875, people from around the world have gathered in the stands and in front of their televisions to watch 20 thoroughbred horses run for the roses.

Arguably, one of the reasons the Kentucky Derby has been named “the most exciting two minutes in sports” is because of the opportunity to place a bet on which horse will win. Take your pick among the contenders and, if you choose wisely, within two minutes you could end up in the winner’s circle. Of course, to increase the likelihood of success, we first have to understand the information available to help make a smart choice.

In order to make an educated assessment on which horse might win, a good place to start is with the vast array of statistics available on horses, jockeys, trainers and owners. There are myriad sources available which collect, organize and present the information in a way to help understand history, performance trends and any number of extenuating factors that can all be a predictor of future success. For those so inclined to take advantage of and learn from this information, the art of identifying likely winners becomes less a game of random chance, and more a calculated choice.

Like horse racing, the business of insurance creates massive amounts of raw data across customers, insurers and agents. For independent insurance agencies, there is an emerging opportunity to harness and analyze that information using technology similar to the databases used to house horse racing statistics. With data analytics applications purpose-built for independent insurance agencies, agency leaders can access this information to glean insights into key performance metrics needed to help make better and more informed business decisions. With the rapid pace of change and innovation across the insurance industry, agencies interested in the information edge provided by data analytics should focus on the following areas:

Internal Operations Productivity Optimization
Data can provide insights that enable agencies to focus on improving business production and efficiency.

  • Employee Productivity
    Understand employees’ renewals and books of business over time, how quickly they are completing tasks and activities, workflow bottlenecks, responsibility overlaps and which employees are hitting sales goals.
  • Current Client, Revenue and Policy Data
    View client value, size, policy mix, servicing team and various client trends over time – and evaluate how each is impacting your bottom line.

New and Existing Market Growth
Understanding your client data enables your agency to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, as well as analyze potential growth and new market opportunities to drive business profitability.

  • Customer Geography
    Identify locations of current clients and the types of coverage they have. Use these insights to measure the impact of events such as earthquakes or storms, or even marketing initiatives.
  • Client Retention
    Analyze factors affecting client retention, such as insurer choice and renewal submission status, against various drivers, like policies, revenue or premium.

Strong Insurer Relationships
Insurer performance data allows you to quickly assess which insurers are most responsive, enabling your agency to produce more new business with higher net revenues.

  • Submission Rates
    Track the performance of submission responses, declines and what policies were written with each of your insurer partners.
  • Policy Volume and Revenue
    Look at insurer performance in terms of new business and activity across all of your insurers.

Data analysis enables horse racing enthusiasts to better predict who will win the race. Conditions like the performance of the jockeys and thoroughbreds, weather conditions, and other factors provide comparisons and insights into the outcome of the event. Your agency can benefit from the same mentality. Employee productivity, client satisfaction and insurer responsiveness are important factors that can impact the health and growth of your agency. Data analytics can provide you with a deeper understanding of the factors that drive future success. Truly understanding your business uncovers new opportunities to grow and compete more effectively. Agency leaders should not leave growth and the future success of the agency to random chance. Data analytics can help agencies take advantage of the data they already have to monitor business performance, discover new insights and ultimately make smarter decisions to increase the likelihood of ongoing success in the future.

Discover how you can leverage data analytics to grow your business >

Michael Howe, Applied SystemsMichael Howe, senior vice president of product management, Applied Systems, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Applied product portfolio. Howe joined Applied in 2013 with more than 20 years of experience in enterprise software. He formerly served as senior vice president of marketing and product management at Aptean, a global provider of industry-focused enterprise software. Prior to Aptean, Howe held senior executive management positions at SAP and other leading software companies.

Convenience Is Key: Interacting with the Connected Insured

May 11, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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Technology has transformed the way businesses serve their customers. And insurance is no exception. Insurance consumers have many insurer choices and extremely high expectations for service. According to a 2017 Forrester report, consumers seek companies that provide the most convenience, often rewarding or punishing companies based on a single experience.

Your agency or brokerage can provide customers the convenience they expect through an omnichannel delivery model. In fact, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. Comparatively, companies with weak omnichannel strategies retain an average of only 33% of their customers, according to Aberdeen Group Inc.

Interacting with customers via their preferred channels on demand creates a connected insured experience. Convenience is key, and omnichannel consumers will only give their business to companies that meet their specific demands. Providing customers with real-time access to information through multiple digital channels enhances your agency’s competitive value and builds client retention. Your agency will also be positioned as a trusted advisor by delivering customer service through traditional methods, including phone and in-person interactions. Agencies that adopt an omnichannel customer service model create a connected insured experience for optimal service, when and how customers want it.

So how do you become more connected with your insureds?

3 steps your agency can take to fully engage with the connected insured:

  1. Invest in an online customer service portal to ensure your clients have 24/7 access to their insurance information.
    Consumers want convenient service. An online customer self-service portal provides your customers access to their insurance information at any time, from anywhere. Not only do customers want online self-service, they are tempted to switch to companies that offer online channels. According to Accenture’s 2015 Global Consumer Pulse Research, customer churn because of declining loyalty and poor customer experiences represents as much as $470 billion in Life and Property & Casualty premiums globally. Additionally, 47% of the survey’s respondents said they want more online interactions with their insurers. Enabling your customers to access their information and interact with your agency 24/7 improves the customer experience and increases brand loyalty.
  1. Consider an agency-branded mobile app that provides easy access to your business from mobile devices.
    Consumers increasingly expect to be served through all digital channels, including mobile access to information. Mobility has revolutionized the financial services industry by making mobile apps must-have additions to traditional methods of working. In fact, according to a recent study by Fiserv, 65% of insurance consumers say paying bills and premiums through their smartphones improves their customer satisfaction. Agencies need to ensure that all transactions can be done in real time, from anywhere in the world, from any device. Furthermore, having an agency-branded mobile app is critical to elevate your role as a trusted advisor. Consumers value a seamless, branded online experience because it promotes professionalism and security from your agency’s brand.
  1. Implement eSignature capabilities to streamline the sales process.
    According to the 2016 Applied Digital Agency Annual Report, in which more than 1,000 independent agencies across the U.S. were surveyed, only 38% of agencies offer eSignature functionality through their management systems. eSignature functionality enhances the customer experience by enabling customers to do business anytime, anywhere. Customers can easily finalize a policy electronically, omitting manual, time-consuming processes and eliminating cumbersome, physical paperwork. Today, more than 77% of Americans own a smartphone of some kind and many are transacting business online, making it essential to modernize the last step in business operations – the signature.

Technology is connecting our world and revolutionizing the way your business operates and interacts with your customers. It is critical for agencies today to adopt and leverage modern technologies to connect with consumers in whichever channel prefer. Providing an omnichannel customer service model provides a consistent and personalized service across all channels and touch points through the customer lifecycle. When your agency delivers convenient service, you gain a competitive advantage and build customer loyalty and retention.

Download the complete Connecting the Business of Insurance eBook >

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients

April 27, 2017

by Matt Foran
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More than a year ago, the IVANS team asked agents and insurers, “What insight is missing in the industry that you truly need to better run your business and serve your clients?” The resounding response was policy renewal pricing guidance. With that feedback, we set out to provide the industry with a set of insights that started with the premium renewal rate change graph below, created after months of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

One of the most important responsibilities for agents is setting a client’s expectations as a renewal is on the horizon. It helps you increase retention while growing your book of business. The most important question that a client will ask is, “How much should I expect to pay this year.” Agents armed with the IVANS Index will be able to better prepare their clients for renewals and explain options as they become available.

The IVANS Index will be available to agents and insurers monthly. Agents will be able to access the insights via the IVANS website, at markets.ivansinsurance.com or through IVANS Market Appetite in their integrated agency management system (Applied Epic, Applied TAM, NASA, Xanatech).

Key findings from the report include:

  • Commercial Auto: Premium renewal rate change averaged 2.71% for the quarter, ending at 2.61% for March; renewals have held steady above 2.5% and below 3.0% for the quarter.
  • General Liability: Each month of Q1 demonstrated a consistent premium renewal rate change average, with 2.07% for January, 2.02% for February and 2.04% for March.
  • Commercial Property: After reaching a premium renewal rate change of 2.71% at the end of 2016, premium renewal rate change fell in Q1 to an average of 2.66%.

As the industry’s largest digital distribution network of 30,000 agencies and over 380 insurers and MGAs, IVANS stands as the best source of industry renewal rate change insights.

Gain additional insights into current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change by accessing markets.ivansinsurance.com.

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

The Connected Agency: Transform Your Agency Through Technology

April 13, 2017

by Michael Howe
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According to Ernst & Young’s 2016 U.S. Property & Casualty Insurance Outlook report, technology is the most impactful external force to the insurance industry. Technology is transforming agency operations, and forward-thinking agencies recognize the value and competitive differentiation that comes with becoming a connected agency.

So, let’s first define what it means to be a “connected agency.” Simply put, it is about the strategic implementation of technologies that help an agency better connect with insurers and insureds, and run internally on a more transparent and efficient basis. A connected agency enables agency staff to access and act upon a complete view of a customer or prospect, facilitating more cross-selling and upselling to drive agency growth. Further, mobility in a connected agency provides staff the ability to conduct business outside of the agency via mobile devices with an up-to-date view of client and business information. A connected agency uses enhanced reporting and data analytics to ensure principals and other agency managers can fully capitalize on opportunities to improve and grow the business.

Evolving toward the “connected agency” helps alleviate and eliminate very common technology and operational challenges that can hold an agency back. Agencies often struggle with separate, disparate systems that are costly, difficult to integrate and even more challenging to maintain. Agency employees have to enter data multiple times in a system and it is never fully clear where the single source of truth about the customer is. Lacking a complete view of the agency’s end customer, there are many missed opportunities to serve the customer in new and more complete ways.

A truly connected agency has better visibility, automates processes and information exchange, and deepens their connections with insurer partners, insureds and internal agency employees. A connected agency builds more profitable relationships with insurers and provides personalized service, both in-person and online, to attract and retain customers.

So, in what ways can agencies become more connected?

Here are three actions agencies can take to become more connected:

  1. Implement a foundational agency management system that delivers a single view across all lines of business for all staff members
    A foundational agency management system ultimately promotes growth and efficiency by connecting all users and all lines of business through a single interface. In a connected agency, staff manage multiple lines of business such as P&C, Specialty, and Benefits, in the same application. Separate, disparate software applications result in duplicative and disjointed information about a customer or prospect. A single foundational management system provides staff with a comprehensive view of the customer or prospect across all lines of business, enabling staff to provide complete customer service while evaluating opportunities to cross-sell and upsell. Agencies can also follow consistent and common workflows for each segment of the business, automating operations to reduce inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
  1. Adopt mobile applications to provide employees remote access to customer information
    Mobility enables agents to meet customer demand for anytime, anywhere access to information via their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Producers can access and input important policy information and client details directly into their mobile devices. With a direct link back to the agency management system, the information is updated in real time, providing all staff access to the most up-to-date activities, opportunities, risk analysis and more.
  1. Invest in data analytics for more informed decision making
    Data analytics enables connected agencies to uncover business insights and make data-driven strategic decisions. Agencies can leverage their management systems to discover patterns, market trends, customer preferences, performance metrics and more to promote strategic business growth. Robust data analytics applications make analyzing data easier with graphical reports and dynamic, interactive dashboards.

As your agency evaluates its digital transformation strategy, consider the benefits of becoming a more connected agency. Technology has transformed the way in which agencies do business, enabling users to make more informed business decisions and capitalize quickly on new opportunities. Growth-driven agencies have learned to adapt to changes in the industry. In order to thrive in today’s market, businesses must become connected agencies as part of their digital transformation plan.

Reserve Your Copy of “The Connected Agency” White Paper

Want to know more about becoming a connected agency? Complete the form below to be among the first to get this soon-to-be-released white paper:

Michael Howe, Applied SystemsMichael Howe, senior vice president of product management, Applied Systems, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Applied product portfolio. Howe joined Applied in 2013 with more than 20 years of experience in enterprise software. He formerly served as senior vice president of marketing and product management at Aptean, a global provider of industry-focused enterprise software. Prior to Aptean, Howe held senior executive management positions at SAP and other leading software companies.

Invest in Yourself at Applied Net

March 30, 2017

by Brian Langerman
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Applied Net ExchangeIn the digital age of emails and text messages, the value of conferences is often overlooked.

Managing a successful agency or brokerage — and a successful team — requires personal connections. And a large part of business is about building relationships.

Conference calls, emails, video conferences and social networks are all crucial elements in building and maintaining business relationships. However, none of them capture the impact of meeting with someone face to face.

Applied Net 2017 is a unique opportunity to not only maximize your investment on your Applied solutions, but to meet and network with a community of insurance industry leaders, Applied partners, exhibitors and peers.

A handshake, swapping news, sharing a meal — all can lead to new business, an idea, a quick tip, future efficiency, and the list goes on.

Our members often tell us that attending just one session at Applied Net generates enough tips and ideas to cover the cost of attendance. Imagine the exponential possibilities that experience can be when you meet thousands of other Applied users at Applied Net.

Face-to-face events can also build high-performing talent. When employees connect with each other, clients and peers, these interactions build trust, understanding and a shared mission. This can make all the difference in the success of your business. Millennials, especially, value highly collaborative environments and want to learn, meet and grow.

So break from the norm. Invest in yourself and your agency or brokerage, step away from your day-to-day office work and get inspired at Applied Net.

Top 4 Face-to-Face Learning Opportunities at Applied Net

  1. Networking Roundtables
    Take part in an energetic discussion around a particular topic with fellow agents to encourage informal learning. Have your voice heard during these interactive discussions, meet other Applied Net attendees and learn how to maximize your Applied Net education experience.
  2. The Applied Net Exchange
    Open daily throughout the conference, the Applied Net Exchange provides you with the opportunity to network with industry experts and speak with Applied business partners to learn about integrated solutions. Meet one-on-one with Applied software experts and demo the latest Applied innovations at the Applied Net Exchange.
  3. Evening Events
    Applied Net attendees enjoy lively and entertaining nightly events each year. The highly anticipated events are the perfect setting to meet fellow agents and brokers and have some fun.
  4. Education Sessions
    Applied Net 2017 offers more than 200 sessions within a variety of tracks, offering education opportunities for growth and networking. Sessions include favorites that are back by popular demand, as well as new sessions and formats including case studies, roundtables and peer spotlights.

Register Now for Applied Net 2017 to take advantage of limited-time early bird discounts.

Brian Langerman, Applied Client NetworkBrian Langerman is the CEO of Applied Client Network. He’s a seasoned technology executive and won’t be missing this year’s Applied Net.

The Power of Positivity: A Lesson In Successful Change Management

March 16, 2017

by Kris Regier
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KFSA Insurance Agency has grown to be one of the largest insurance agencies in the state of Kansas, with four offices and more than 60 employees. At KFSA, we work hard to create a culture based on continued education and a constant commitment to leveraging technology innovation. But with adopting the latest innovation comes change, and there’s no way around it – change is difficult. And I think every agency leader would agree.

It’s critical to change and adapt to keep pace with today’s consumer habits and technology demands. When evaluating implementation approaches and methodology, it’s important to focus on the best steps to champion change for a successful technology transition. When we switched agency management systems last year, there were a number of programs put in place to facilitate successful change management, from hands-on training to fun activities. Managing change can only be truly successful when you work alongside a dedicated technology partner to ensure you gain the most value from your software.

Here are a few pointers that really helped us when we implemented new software to become a digital agency:

  • Acknowledge that change is difficult – We cultivated a culture that said “this is a change that’s coming.” And then we helped everyone prepare for it. Employees truly saw the advantages of moving to digital agency technology like a single management system. You have to believe in the technology you’ve purchased and transfer that belief to your employees.
  • Management support – I can’t stress enough that top-down support is crucial for a successful technological change to take place. Our management team supplied the resources we needed for a successful management system change.
  • Prepare with hands-on training – We created a hands-on training lab with older computer equipment for our employees. Anyone could go into the lab and use the demo database to work through examples and try different things. In order to be prepared for the data conversions – interactive learning is critical. Hands-on training makes employees more confident, and when your staff is confident in the system, it’s going to work better. Remember to keep your employees engaged with different types of training experiences that work for all types of learners.
  • Create a fun environment – We created a scavenger hunt within our management system. For example, employees would be asked to look for a client, set up a new client or bill a policy as part of the scavenger hunt. As we got closer to migration, employees could take an activity all the way through. And as we approached go-live, it wasn’t foreign to them. We also had a transaction party. All of accounting sat down and realized that our current billing methods weren’t going to work with our new system. So we all played with the data and tried billing different items to see how it would flow in the new system. The training at the transaction party was very successful. It helped us to write and establish various procedures that we still use today in the system.
  • Take advantage of online learning – When you have access to online resources, take advantage of them! Applied University was an amazing resource for us. There are more than 30,000 hours of education course work available in the University and more than 3,000 instructor-led courses. Giving your employees access to this type of knowledge is invaluable.
  • Be positive – We were highly focused on creating a positive change culture. You have to make your employees feel that the change is manageable, and then it will be.

Change doesn’t have to be scary – it’s all about the culture and employee attitude. The reward is in the way our employees work today. To thrive today in a time of digital transformation, agencies must seriously consider their technology options and become a digital agency. It’s no longer viable to remain un-automated and consumers expect mobile and self-service technology during all interactions. Digital technology has given our employees access to every customer, from anywhere at any time. And that amount of insight and ownership of their day-to-day has led to happier employees.

Have you lead a team through change management?

Comment below to share your thoughts and insights about the process and your tips for success. Are there any specific programs or strategic advice you can offer to other agents and brokers?

Kris Regier, director of operations for KFSA Insurance Agency, has been with KFSA since 1976. Over the last 40 years she has had held of number of positions within the agency. Currently she oversees the operations of KFSA offices with concentration on procedures and workflows of the agency. Kris obtained her Certified Insurance Representative designation in 1988 and her Certified Insurance Counselor in 1992.