Clearing 4 Hurdles to Better Agency Tech - Insurance Thought Leadership

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September 29, 2021

Clearing 4 Hurdles to Better Agency Tech

Summary:

While technology can provide huge benefits, agencies need to invest their time in understanding tools to get the most out of them.

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For insurance agents, deciding to implement a new tool is no easy feat. It requires research and demos. But the real work starts post-sign-up.

Digital solutions can help agents give customers a better experience and, most importantly, enable them to compete with industry disruptors. But agents drag their feet on implementing the solutions. Why?

For some, the reason has to do with workflow, education of the team, capabilities they wish the new solution had or issues with integration.

No matter the issues, they can all be overcome with time, a focus on the right solutions and the passion to drive innovation within the agency.

Here’s a list of four of the top hurdles and how agents have overcome them.

1. Lack of time

This may sound simple, but it is really a big deal for most agencies. Agents are busy, and most of the ones I know are usually in customer service or selling mode. Finding time to not only select a new solution but to set it up and understand its capabilities is just not on the radar. For those who do take the leap, it can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy when they don’t take the time to understand the solution’s full capabilities. Without that understanding, the solution can fail. 

There are some important tips I’ve found that can help. First, make a list of the problems your agency wants to solve with technology. This can eliminate many solutions that look cool but that you don’t really need. Once you have a pain point identified, do homework on the tools you’re considering. Find agent testimonials and reviews to see if a tool has helped others in the past. If so, it’s worth a trial at least. 

Then block off 20 minutes a day to test and explore new tools. Actually work with them. I’ve seen many agents get a significantly better understanding within just a week. With that newfound understanding, they make better decisions. 

2. Workflow disruption

Any disruption in a workflow, even to improve processes, is not always well-received. Change management is hard—for every company, including for most agencies, which are small businesses with limited personnel to devote to big changes. 

This is where communication helps. The new solution’s champion — who could be the agency principal — must convince the team that, if adopting a tool can save time for one agent, it can save time for most. With this simple message, the champion can help establish the value of the tool and give the team the resources they need to understand the new process.

Make the change clear to all agents and provide training resources so they can successfully adapt. Also, encourage agents to use the tool’s customer success team, who are likely focused on engaging with and providing training for customers. 

See also: How Technology Drives a ‘New Normal’

3. New tools that are not fully established

You’ve got that right — technology rarely does all the things you want. It may not integrate with existing systems, including agency management systems, and some (or most) carriers may not yet be on the platform. But these are not reasons to stop moving forward. In some cases, there are workarounds. In others, a solution may just be a matter of time and making your voice heard.

It’s important to get to know your agency management system and to understand  if the vendor has an open application programming interface (API). If they do, they can more easily integrate with other systems. You should also understand your carriers’ perspectives, to make the best-informed decision about new solutions. This is where a dialogue — especially with your top carriers — to understand their innovation plans can be very helpful.

4. Lack of understanding

A common issue is user error from not understanding how the solution functions. SaaS solutions are becoming more and more clever with integrations and functionality that add a degree of complexity. A lot of information is thrown at agents all at once, and it can be difficult to digest and prioritize the most important elements. 

It helps a lot to try before you buy. Agents are often afraid to jump into a new tool if they aren’t confident in their understanding. Actually working with the tool is a big deal — not once or twice, but multiple times. Asking questions is also important. It’s one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a tool. Lastly, getting the right materials from the supplier is key. Cheat sheets, one-pagers and post-demo materials can be very helpful. 

Despite the hurdles, implementing new technology is critical to advance every agency. It’s usually not as difficult as they think it will be. At Semsee, we’ve noticed a trend in agencies that sit through a demo, get onboarded and then immediately start using the platform to start quoting — they often end up with few follow-up questions because they really understand the solution and how it can work within their agencies. For those that are most hesitant, it ends up taking more time. They have more questions and tend to want to go back over things we’ve covered. Their teams are less engaged. 

Technology works. It’s usually not perfect, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles the agency might want on day one, and it definitely will require analysis, education and changes to workflow. But none of those are reasons not to innovate. Agencies need to invest their time in understanding tools to get the most out of them. In return, they’ll change hearts and minds and move their agencies forward.

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About the Author

Jessica Collins-Appel is customer success manager at Semsee, the automated small commercial quoting solution for agents, where she helps insurance agents learn the platform and use its capabilities.

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