When looking to modernize their processes and solutions, the first instinct for many agencies may be to add solutions to their insurtech stack. But before purchasing additional technology, agencies should first look at how they are using the tools they already have; they may be sitting on a gold mine of untapped potential. You just need to know where to look and how to bring the treasure to the surface — and it won’t cost you a dime.
Agencies sometimes forget why they bought software in the first place. The decision usually begins with a financial reason, whether it’s to reduce costs, increase efficiencies or connect with a new audience. By the time RFPs, selection, implementation and onboarding are complete, that focus on why can be blurred. Often, employees use software because it’s there, not because they fully understand its value.
Moreover, in complex industries like insurance, B2B software often does more than agencies anticipate. After the sprint to get basic workflows up and running, it can be difficult to settle into a steady marathon pace. Incremental experimentation, learning and training can easily fall by the wayside.
There might be an opportunity to unlock more value out of the insurtech you already have in place. In other words, you might be able to get more out of the investment you’ve already made — without spending another dime. Let’s explore several ways to uncover where these opportunities might exist:
1. Get end-users fully on board
It’s not uncommon for the decision-makers on a software purchase (like an agency owner) to be different from the people who will be using it day-to-day (like a customer service representative, or CSR). And if owners don’t involve their employees in the buying process, employees haven’t been filled in on the value or rationale behind implementing the product. They might initially feel hesitant at the thought of new technology at the workplace.
Take client portals. Many agencies want to provide self-service portals where tech-savvy clients can verify coverage, file a claim, request policy changes and retrieve documents. Agency owners see portals as a tool that decreases time on paperwork and increases opportunity for agents to act as a trusted adviser.
But put yourself in the shoes of an agent who took those phone calls for 15 years: They may feel as if their daily communications with clients are no longer of value or may feel like they are being replaced by technology. Agents who don’t understand the purpose of the software are left wondering how best to spend their time, and this misperception can mean cultural consequences that affect staff morale and retention.
Without the right communication upfront and a thoughtful onboarding process, your employees may view your new software purchase as a threat or a hindrance to their work — jeopardizing the investment you’ve made.
2. Create a culture of continuous learning
Some agencies put recruits through a one-time software tutorial. Then, they ask employees to sacrifice one day a year to a hands-on training loaded with more material than anyone can retain.
That means employees are unlikely to learn the new features and capabilities in the vendor's releases throughout the year. Conversely, the agencies that benefit most from those updates tend to have a culture of continuous training.
The key is to make training and learning a very present part of your culture. That means making your software trainings not only readily available but also approachable. For example, share bite-sized, five-minute video lessons that your employees can view whenever they want and give them incentives for doing so. Your vendor should have a growing library of videos and will be able to offer help for best ways to use them.
3. Dig deeper into your provider relationship
One of my favorite questions from customers goes something like this: “I saw a demo by one of your competitors. Their agency management system can do X. Why can’t you guys do that?”
Me: “Well, we’ve had that capability for five years….”
Some agencies are reluctant to lean too much on their tech company as they don’t want to seem needy. But agencies that get the most value out of their investment see their software provider as a partner rather than as a vendor.
What’s the difference? Interactions with a vendor are transactional. An insurtech partner, on the other hand, is invested in your agency’s success. They want you to use your solutions to the fullest and they invest in resour,ces and people to support that goal. They are interested in user feedback, and they want to hear about your needs.
Here’s some advice: Contact your vendor all the time, give them your tech wish list and put them to work. If your vendor doesn’t have a solution yet, you might convince them to put it on their road map. And if the solution already has that capability you’re looking for, they will gladly show you how to use it.
See also: Insurtech Is Much More Than Just Hype
4. Focus on the journey
Insurance is complex, and good insurtech solutions have extensive capabilities to help agencies manage their business and clients. Agencies that get the most value out of their investment understand it takes time for users to take full advantage of their technology.
Agencies should treat their technology like any other investment. Think about someone who opens an investment account and a month later says, “Well, I haven't double my money yet, so clearly this isn’t working. I'm going to close my account.” Crazy, right? Smart investing is for the long haul — and your software investment is no different.
Work with your vendor to map out your software journey to understand the milestones that will make your users successful and the real value you can expect in the first month, the first year and beyond. You can apply the same principles to solutions you already have in place, as well. Put an emphasis on continual adoption and training, create and track metrics to determine success and measure progress over time to get a true picture of the return on your investment.
The software is already yours
Focusing on getting more out of your existing solutions is a win for your bottom line, a win for your users and a win for your clients. Agency leadership should share with employees why and how the software will help them do what’s most important: providing excellent service and building strong client relationships. Use your vendor more to unlock all the potential of your software and motivate your employees to not only use the software fully but also train on it continually. By reframing the use of software as a prized skill and cultural strength, your agency will unlock untapped value and keep employees happier.