As with any business, success is about adaptation to the environment. This truth is no different in the insurance world. The ability not only to attract and maintain good agents but also to keep your agency fluid in attracting clients is imperative to the agency’s success. If an agency does not change with the times, it will slowly fall behind the competition. Other businesses will surpass it with the ability to function at a quicker pace, providing new and exciting services. The term used to define a company’s ability to change as business trends change is agility.
Agency Agility is About Being Fluid
A Non-Agile Agency is Slow to Change
If your insurance agency is still conducting business through a paper application process, it can become quickly obsolete if you stick with the status quo. With the advancement of technology, the old standard of “doing the things we do, the way we have always done them,” no longer applies. The new standard is to be cutting-edge and fluid within the business cycle. This includes offering your clients the ability to submit applications electronically, whether it is online or through an in-house electronic system. Many issues can arise from a paper-based system:
- Delays by submitting through the mail.
- Errors may go unnoticed until it hits underwriting.
- Delays with having to correct errors found.
- There is little access to see the status of an application.
Even an agency that has an online presence can fall behind current trends. Unfortunately, business is no longer about standardization and product equality. It has become more about who can accommodate the insurance buyer faster with the lowest cost.
An Agency with Agility Keeps Focused on the Future
When an insurance agency monitors what is trending and acts to keep pace, that agency will experience greater success. For instance, mobile apps are becoming one of the greatest assets in the insurance world. Your clients always have their phone with them. And if they were to come across a situation where they need to file a claim, be it an accident, home burglary, or damage to a covered item, their phone can be used to submit their claim quickly. With just a few clicks they can engage the insurance company, begin the process, send information including photos, and have access to the claims process.
Agility is not just about having state of the art technology. It is about seeing the market moving in a different pattern than it was yesterday and taking action to move in that direction. For an independent insurance agency, it may be in:
- What products you sell.
- What type of agents you contract with.
- How you market your agency.
- How you work with your client base to gain new business.
Agility is about change and how your insurance agency reacts. Obviously, the quicker you act, the better off you will find yourself. Yes, change can be difficult in some markets. But just as technology advancements can hold a business back, it can also help business processes become much easier. Adapting an agile mentality can help streamline the application and claims processes. It can enhance the client experience. It can attract new clientele through word of mouth of happy customers.
How to Incorporate Agility into Your Independent Agency
The two biggest things about being agile are being open-minded to try new things and to be quick with implementing these ideas. Technology is merely one of the latest trends that can boost your insurance agency to the next level.
With so many insurance transactions moving to cloud-based processes, one can do pretty much everything now with the click of a mouse or tap of their stylus. And in the hurry-up-and-let’s-go pace of the world, people no longer have time to sit down and meet face to face.
The personal touch is what has built the insurance industry, and especially the independent agency. So, there must be a medium — a place between having a personal connection and getting the job done quickly.
Here are four tips to help your agency become agile while maintaining a customer focus:
1. Be responsive. Keep your eye on what is trending. This can vary year by year, season by season, or even day by day. The key is to see what is coming and to act accordingly. The local headlines will be your greatest asset to guide you with product promotion.
- A rise in crime in your area. (Including Cyber Crime)
- An increase in claims in your area.
- A population age shift.
- Law changes. (Like the legalization of Cannabis)
Any of these can warrant a modification to your business process. If you offer primarily P&C insurance products and see that your agency can benefit with Life, Accident, and Health, then you can seek out an agent to help round out your team and enhance what you already offer your clients.
2. Promote stability. An agile agency works as a team. Having everyone on the same page gives your agency a firm foundation. This can come in many forms. For one, it is important that all your agents use the same platforms and software programs. This promotes fluidity and the ability to work together, or in place for one another, should the need arise. A happy team will be ready to act when the trend changes again.
3. Don’t fear change. As stated, the way your grandfather ran his agency is not the way an agency is running today. Technology is an advancement of the hands-on personal touch our predecessors worked with. Today, conducting business is all about time savings. The consumer still cares about the personal touch, but they would rather pay a few dollars more for a product if it means that they can be done with it in minutes versus hours. An agile agency will not be afraid to experiment with new ideas. They will be eager to adopt the changes that work.
4. Don’t forget about the employee. While you are working at maintaining your clientele through the ease of access to policy information, customer support, and application process, you must keep your agent in mind. Agility can also apply to how you interact with your team. Incorporating new methods of:
- Compensation – how an agent is paid.
- Benefits – what perks are offered to your agents.
- Working Environment – ability to work remotely, set own hours.
- Access to Tools of the Trade – Modern Hardware and Software capabilities.
All of which remain fluid to the employee’s needs at the time. Life situations change. Giving your agent the ability to modify their employment parameters can keep your team
The answer to remaining agile in today’s ever-changing market is keeping an open mind to change – especially for the insurance agency. Technology is only one of the areas to focus on. But since it is advancing every year, it is one that needs to be monitored regularly.
Agents now have the ability to take applications over an internet connection. All business can be conducted electronically right down to the digital signature. If an agency chooses to stick with the old paper and pen and snail mailing, then they will be left behind as a potential client will find an insurance agency that can complete the transaction in a fraction of the time.
Agility is not a once and done approach. It requires constant monitoring for the next trend fluctuation. Then the course correction to keep with the flow. While the days of shaking hands are in the past, you still want to remain in personal contact with your clients. This can be achieved through email campaigns, a strong social media presence, and even a quick phone call or text to remind them you are there for them. That is what will set your agency apart from the competition; maintaining a personal touch despite technology advancements.
Agentero powers independent agencies like yours with technology to digitally serve their clients and optimize their cross-selling efforts. Explore how we can help you to:
- Deepen relationships with clients
- Generate more revenue per client
- Automate clients’ servicing