Achieving Digital Balance in an Agency - Insurance Thought Leadership

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August 24, 2021

Achieving Digital Balance in an Agency

Summary:

Agencies are torn between the temptation to use too much technology and the tendency to stick too long with old, familiar processes.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

You’ve probably seen it in your own life. A new gadget or software program promises to make life easier, but you can’t bring yourself to get started. 

Maybe it’s too complicated to set up. Maybe you’re not sure if it really works. Maybe you’re just set in your ways. So, you keep trudging through the old way of doing things. 

The same thing can happen at your insurance agency. Every month, you face decisions about what technology to use in your day-to-day operations, how to get the most value out of the services you already use and how to improve your customer experience. 

As the head of a company that offers those kinds of services just for the insurance industry, I have some insight into how to make those decisions and achieve what I think of as “digital balance” — a task that has only become more urgent since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

What Does it Mean to Have Digital Balance? 

Digital balance is the Goldilocks spot. At one end of the spectrum, there is too much technology. We we spend loads of time trying to use everything offered in hopes of some productivity breakthrough. At the other end of the spectrum, we are really not taking advantage of technology because we are relying too much on the comfort of old processes we think work good enough. Digital balance lies in the middle of the spectrum.

With the myriad of applications and software thrown at us as a means to improve our lives and our workflows, finding digital balance is really about learning to evaluate the technologies we use on a daily basis, so we can embrace the ones that improve our efficiency and productivity and let go of those that no longer provide value. 

The importance of this evaluation has become even more apparent within the past 18 months as we navigate through the ups and downs of the pandemic, striving to still provide our customers the best experience possible and give our employees the tools and support they need to succeed. 

A simple way to evaluate your balance is by breaking your company down into categories depending on your specific makeup. I will just review a few examples, but there are obviously others like human resources or accounting that could be reviewed much the same way. 

How to Review Your Digital Balance 

Here are the five main categories I will review: 

  • Internal Communications: How we communicate with our staff.
  • Workflow/Documentation: The processes by which everything gets accomplished and recorded as it moves through our system.
  • Marketing: How we tell our story, position our brand’s value and reach potential customers.
  • Sales and Customer Service: The way we deliver on the promise to provide the best customer experience possible.
  • Data and Metrics: Measuring the results of our efforts and accessing information to make improvements.

See also: Digital Is the Assistant We Always Wanted

The way we evaluate our digital balance is by looking at each category across our company, creating an inventory of technology, evaluating each solution, identifying any pinch points, setting our priorities and making a plan to adjust our solutions to maximize efficiency and productivity. 

Internal Communications

Given the new dynamic of having, in some cases, onsite and remote employees, internal communications are more important than ever. Your employees need to communicate quickly and effectively. Failure in communication can lead to declines in productivity as well as employees feeling isolated.

Some of the questions you might ask are: 

  • What are the processes behind how we communicate currently?
  • What communicating technology are we currently using? Is it effective? Is it redundant?
  • What are we relying on the most: email, phone calls, voicemails, sticky notes, instant messaging, intranet?
  • How are we avoiding employees and departments from being/feeling siloed?
  • Are we using technology to streamline communications?
  • What hardware or software do we need to fulfil our communications needs?
  • Have we considered all the security risks for communications on personal hardware and remote access for employees working out of the office? 

Workflow/Documentation 

All projects live somewhere. They may be new, complete, in progress or maybe in need of changes. The point is, to get things done, there needs to be a process by which workflow happens. Technology can create an efficient solution to make this happen and track the results. 

  • Do we have a work-flow process that could be improved by technology? 
  • Are different departments using separate technologies to get the same result? 
  • Has staff using the technology been trained so they can maximize the effectiveness?
  • Does remote staff have the same access? 
  • Have we signed up for technology that we are not even using? 

Marketing 

Brand, perception, reach and awareness. So much technology has been developed to maximize the way we communicate our company’s value to the prospect. It is very easy to lose track of all the tools available. Often, many technologies overlap.

  • What is the inventory of each technology we are using, and how is it used to achieve the desired result? 
  • Is there a way to combine any of our marketing needs into one solution? Will there be an advantage? 
  • Do our marketing needs require specialized solutions outside of other solutions the company uses? 
  • Will the costs of technology used to acquire new customers exceed the value? 
  • Do we have the staff, and are they trained to maximize the effectiveness of the technology? 

Sales and Customer Service 

From your customer relationship management (CRM) to building relationships and solving customer issues, technology plays a big role in providing the best customer experience possible. Processes can be greatly improved with solutions that put customer information at your fingertips. 

  • Do sales and customer service have access to the technology needed to provide the best experience? 
  • What is our customer lifecycle, and what technologies can we put in place to understand and improve that experience? 
  • Are we using technology to track how we are communicating with customers during and after onboarding? How do we know where we can make improvements? 

See also: 1 Million Digital Life Presentations

Data and Metrics 

Knowing where we have been certainly helps us improve where we can go. Using technology tools that provide access to data and metrics gives us valuable insights, allowing us to make better decisions and make improvements. 

  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) do we need to measure to give us the information needed to make better decisions? 
  • Will one technology meet the needs of all my data requests? 
  • Are we collecting data from technology but not using it? 
  • Do I have the staff to effectively use this technology? 

Achieving Digital Balance 

These are just general guidelines for you to evaluate your technology footprint. I hope you can use this information to maximize the technology you are currently using and possibly look to introduce new technology to build a more efficient and productive work environment. 

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About the Author

Duke Williams is founder of Simply Easier Payments, a leading no-cost total payment solution partner for insurance and other industries accepting mobile or online payments.

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