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The Connected Business of Insurance

The Digital Agency: Connecting Minds and Machines

January 18, 2018

by Trace Meek
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Digital technology is integrated into every aspect of our lives. For instance, when you go to the grocery store you can process your own purchases via a self-checkout. Or, when you go to a restaurant you can order ahead online or through your smartphone. The digital age has created a new kind of consumer who expects on-demand self-service with every company they do business with, including insurance agencies.

To capitalize on new customer service and business paradigms, the insurance industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation. The digital transformation is about realizing an opportunity to better service clients and creating an enduring and more profitable business. A digital agency leverages modern technologies to connect its agents, insurers, clients and prospects. It automates business operations to transform into a paperless agency, saving time and money on outdated processes.

Embracing Change
More and more agencies like Condon-Meek are embracing digital technology to automate their business operations. Our agency was experiencing inefficiencies with manual, day-to-day tasks that prompted us to search for technology to enable flexibility and automation throughout our agency. We invested in technology to become a digital agency and quickly realized the benefits.

Becoming a digital agency enables us to:

  • Operate more efficiently
  • Make more informed business decisions
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Build stronger insurer relationships
  • Create new business opportunities

Our Digital Transformation Strategy
To transform our agency, we leveraged four capabilities to drive our digital technology strategy.  

  1. Agency Management System
    Working in multiple systems created a lot of confusion and inconsistency at our agency. A lot of time and money was also being wasted maintaining multiple, disparate systems. To more efficiently manage our business, it was important to have a unified system across the entire agency. 

    We partnered with Applied to implement an agency management system that could provide essential capabilities for each stakeholder in the business to better manage customer relationships, sales opportunities, financial accounting and policy and benefit administration across the entire staff, in one application.

    Our new agency management system has dramatically impacted our sales process. My team can now input a client in less than 90 seconds, identify cross- and up-sell opportunities, track won or lost opportunities, and set follow-up reminders — all benefits that most management systems don’t offer. This tool also allows us to look into the future and see what’s in our sales pipeline for the next 10, 30, 60 and 90 days. I can see where we are falling short and I’m able to fix the issue today rather than 45 days from now. This has been invaluable to me because what you can track, you can manage.

    Having an agency management system with the ability to automate all business processes at our agency created a better flow of operations, eliminated additional costs, resources and time spent using multiple systems, and enabled us to nearly triple our business this year.

  1. Insurer Connectivity

    Automating insurer connectivity enables our agency to seamlessly communicate and exchange data from our system to insurers’ systems via download. The ability to interact with insurers while operating in our system saves my staff immense time and enables them to be more productive.

    Our agency is now better equipped to connect with insurers thanks to tools like rating software, which deliver accurate quotes through real-time connectivity. By automating quoting workflows, our agency is able to quickly meet our customer’s needs, improving the overall customer experience and driving business growth.

  1. Mobile

    Younger consumers expect mobile and self-service applications that enable them to quickly access information and make purchases on their terms. In fact, according to a recent study by Applied Systems, 76% of Millennials and Generation Z believe having access to information and service through a mobile app is very important.

    Mobile enables our agency to provide customers with anytime access to insurance information from their smartphones. It also allows our producers to quickly access and update critical client and prospect information while they are out in the field. Mobility has untethered our agents from a traditional 9-5 office life and created a more fluid work environment that allows for greater production and better customer service.

  1. Cloud

    I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family and have more freedom away from the office, but I was constricted by having an on-site server. Additionally, having an on-site server exposed our agency to the risk of a cyber threat or natural disaster that could potentially destroy all of our company data. We experienced a huge problem when our server went down, leaving us without an agency management system for a week. After that, it was a no-brainer to move to the cloud.

    From cost savings to better data management, the cloud offers our agency an opportunity to operate in a secure and flexible environment that rewards speed and business continuity with profitable results.

Transform and Thrive Today
Since implementing a digital transformation strategy, our agency has seen significant growth. We have written as much new business in the past four months as we did in the previous 12 months.

In today’s insurance market, it’s no longer acceptable to remain un-automated and customers expect mobile and self-service technology. If your agency wants to drive growth and profitability, it’s critical to consider leveraging technology to create a connected experience across the insurance lifecycle. Implementing a digital agency strategy goes hand-in-hand with our core value of being a trusted advisor. Technology isn’t replacing our relationships, it’s enhancing them by allowing us to better serve our customers. Connecting minds and machines will give your agency a more competitive position and enable you to remain viable into the future.

For more information on becoming a digital agency, watch the “Technology for Growth” on-demand webinar.

Trace Meek is the president of Condon-Meek Insurance, a family-owned, independent insurance agency that was founded in 1954 and is located in Clearwater, Florida.

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