Bruce Cochrane of the Renaissance Alliance says agents have to measure everything to stay competitive, however that does not mean relying on technology alone, according to experts who work with and for agencies.
“Many principals make the mistake of believing their agency system is primarily a back-office function that does not affect producers,” says Val Jordan, president of AgenciesOnline and herself a former agency president. “They will delegate the system operation to support staff and leave producers out of the training process.”
Jordan, whose firm develops marketing systems for agents, says owners must take charge of their systems, insist every producer receive all the available training these systems provide and that everyone in the office follows the same protocols:
“These systems all have the capability to measure a wide range of data, but only if everyone uses the same procedures and enters information the same way. It’s the old garbage in, garbage out rule. It’s up to management to make sure that everyone is using the system according to the same rules and best practices. Data must be entered properly and completely at the outset so you can avoid double entry and missing information.”
Brandie Hinen says the emphasis on technology is also misplaced because the skill and support of the agency’s staff – producers, customer service representatives and support staff – are critical to the measurement process. Hinen is a well-known agent coach and speaker and owner of Powerhouse Learning, and was also a star producer.
“You’re paying for very intelligent problem solvers to help your clients oversee and manage one of the more complex aspects of their business – why would you not include those same intelligent problem solvers to help you with key agency functions, all of which involve the use of technology to measure performance,” Hinen said.
Hinen also points out that training takes more than saying “just suck it up.” Every staff member brings different skills, habits and perspectives to the table. The best systems in the world don’t work if the people using them can’t or won’t use them to their best advantage. That said, Hinen recommends going beyond measuring the traditional benchmarks such as new and renewal commission and revenue by line.
“Evaluate what you are ‘committed to create,'” she says, “in other words the experience or emotion you want to evoke in another party – then evaluate if and how you’re getting the responses you want. Conduct periodic surveys with clients with an inexpensive tool such as Survey Monkey or do personalized interviews with select clients.”
Finally, an agency’s social media activity should be monitored and measured continually, not just the number of likes, comments and shares but other details by using free or low-cost tools.
Terry Golesworthy of the Customer Respect Group says monitoring should be the first item on the agenda. “If people are talking about your agency, you need to know about it. Monitoring and responding promptly offers the quickest impact – possibly a lead or saving a client,” he said. “As an agency gets more ambitious, this can be extended to looking for, and responding to people talking about or asking questions about insurance in the local community.”
“Google Alerts is always the first option but also take a look at SocialMention, which can sometimes dig deeper in social media,” he says. “Tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer are all good with free options available.”
This is the second of a series on the technology issues facing agents. The focus will be on practical solutions on many fronts, including the customer experience, mobile, privacy and security.
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