Consumers are embracing digital purchasing habits, and that is creating new challenges for independent insurance agencies. At first these were only seen on the personal lines side of the business — in the forms of heightened customer expectations and increased competition from the direct channel. But now these same marketing forces are being seen in commercial lines as well.
In order to compete, independent insurance agencies must invest to match the expectations of the new connected consumer society. In the client’s mind, the “customer experience” defines how you do business. And the customer is always watching, so your agency must be efficient.
In order to win, independent insurance agencies must continue to deliver on their competitive edge — superior personalized service, before and after the sale. But as the complexity of writing and servicing commercial risks widens, the toll these policies take on agencies can fast become overwhelming. Significant productivity gains are required if an agency hopes to land larger accounts and remain profitable doing it.
The challenge agencies face is twofold:
- Scale the output of their organizations to the growing demands of the commercial insurance landscape.
- Scale their knowledge and expertise to the growing complexity of commercial accounts.
Local agencies are suddenly facing competition from all over the country, so expanding the types of businesses they pursue is becoming critical for continued success.
Commercial lines have always come with a steep learning curve. Now the flood of new carriers and super-specialized risk products have made merely “keeping up” difficult. Understanding the needs of the customer and the range of insurance products to best protect them is the core of commercial insurance — and that aspect must shine through. It often comes down to knowing carrier appetites.
Agencies are looking at technology to offer guidance, provide winning focus, and multiply results. Here are some key areas where software can transform time-consuming workflows:
1. Lead management – The ability to scale is imperative and leveraging automation will improve the reach and quality of marketing efforts. The goal is to reach more prospects with less resources. The right sales tool also provides visibility into the overall sales pipeline, while keeping agents focused on the prospect right in front of them.
2. Submissions – Lost commercial submissions can be expensive. There are just so many opportunities for something to slip between the cracks. Employing a central hub to organize and track submissions not only keeps the agency aware of the current disposition of transactions, but it can also highlight potential opportunities to help win the account and lift the profitability of the agency.
3. Carrier Appetites – Leverage third-party services for guidance on carrier appetites and the evolving products available. This is often the key to staying ahead of the game.
4. Certificates – Certificates are perhaps the most time-consuming and costly activity imposed on agencies. Look for solutions, with serviceability in mind, that streamline the process and provide self-service options wherever possible. (Clients have learned to prefer self-service in recent years.)
5. Schedules – Maintaining large schedules can be fraught with errors. Collaboration with the insured is key. So, leverage software that focuses on productivity gains like providing direct import and export capabilities. Additionally, look for these same tools to validate and compare schedule revisions against existing data.
Technology can gift back a significant portion of your agency’s scarcest resource — time. What you choose to do with that time will determine how your agency competes.
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