By Brett Chenail, VP of Solution Consulting and Pre-Sales at Vertafore
Your agency may have a treasure trove of untapped potential with your insurance software, and the cause is more likely cultural than technical. This is good news, because it means that opportunities to modernize your agency, generate more revenue and improve client experience are already yours. There’s no extra charge for getting more value out of your software—the question is how.
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.
Like many agency leaders, 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. Involve your software’s end-users in the process
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 CSR). And if owners don’t involve their employees in the buying process, that can impose a challenge in the future because employees haven’t been filled in on the value or rationale behind implementing the product. Depending on an employee’s perspective, they might initially feel hesitant at the thought of new technology at the workplace.
Take customer portals, for example. 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 advisor.
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 hinderance to their work—jeopardizing the investment you’ve made.
2. Leverage your vendor relationship
One of my favorite questions from customers goes something like this: “I saw a demo by one of your competitors. Their AMS can do ‘X.’ Why can’t you guys do that?”
Me: “Well, we’ve had that capability for five years…”
Scrappy, headstrong agencies are often reluctant to lean too much on their software vendor, as they don’t want to seem needy.
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 roadmap.
3. Cultivate a culture of learning and training
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 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.
4. Approach your software purchase as a journey, not a single point in time
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—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. And 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 value of a true technology partner
At Vertafore, we believe your agency’s success is our success and we make sure our customers get the most out of their software investment. Read more about how we partner with you through each stage of your experience with our products.