By Steven J. Aronson, CIC, Acrisure-Aronson Insurance
Every keystroke exposes your agency to risk of error and costs money. It also wastes time.
That’s why single-entry technology has the power to transform. The simplest definition of single-entry technology is any agency management, rating, tracking or processing system that eliminates the need for duplicate input. Instead, single-entry technology seamlessly transfers any data that is initially input by an agency employee into other forms or files within the customer or prospect form or file.
To explain why I’m such a convert to this way of doing business, I have real-world experience with AVYST, a new eForms software program that was designed specifically for insurance, with a goal of improving the submission process, saving producers and underwriters time, streamlining carrier communication, supporting quicker business development and more. But here’s the thing: Whether your agency uses AVYST or another single-entry technology, you have to proactively transform the time saved throughout the sales and retention process into something that enriches your prospect and customer relationships and improves the customer service experience. If you simply buy technology to be wowed by its bells and whistles, you’re missing the real benefit. After all, technology is simply a process. The benefit it ultimately provides depends on how you apply the time savings that result.
It can be surprising how quickly minutes can accrue into hours, simply by eliminating duplicate input. As a third-generation insurance professional, I can tell you that not only are the days of writing submission notes on a napkin long gone (the method my dad’s generation often employed), so is the appropriateness of scribbling notes on three pages of a yellow legal pad (my earlier preferred method). This long-hand, random note-taking method was fraught with possibilities for error and oversight. It also required an incredible amount of an account rep or manager’s time to organize and decipher those notes. By streamlining the process to one round of data gathering instead — business name, overview, statistics, risks, goals, etc. — everyone is instantly in the know. No looping back to look up and reenter data into a new file. More time left for new business and nurturing existing client relationships.
But let’s be more specific about actual tactics you should consider implementing or enhancing when technology eliminates the mundane, repetitive tasks that once stole too much of your agency’s time. Yes, most items on this list are obvious, but here’s the thing: Without a conscious shift in how you spend your time, the savings generated by efficient technology will be wasted. This is something faced by nearly every organization in our industry, from carrier to agency. As such, with each new technology upgrade, there should also be a commensurate upgrade in our approach to daily business. So what should you invest your saved time against?
1. Establish an audience with prospects. This has always been part of the sales process, but it deserves a measured, planned approach. Are you mining social media for leads? Are you providing feedback and expertise on forums, in blog comments and other online collaboration platforms? The goal is to position yourself as an expert with your prospects before they’re in the market for a new agency. Creating this kind of online footprint, so you are front and center with prospects, demands weekly effort. Put it on your calendar and dedicate the required time.
2. Research submissions. Dig deeper, explore further. Don’t rely only on initial client input to set direction. Whether it’s an existing agency specialty or one you’re just entering, commit to a new level of research. In most industries, the speed of change far outpaces our ability to keep up without deliberate effort.
3. Improve relationships. How many times is a phone call or email prefaced with something along the lines of “it’s been a while …”? Even though you don’t want to become a weekly bother, it’s likely that the majority of your book of business could stand getting a little extra love. Ditto for your carrier relationships. Like it or not, the lowest bidder doesn’t usually keep the business long-term — but the best partner does. Create a regular schedule for reaching out and keeping engaged.
4. Invest in education and training. When’s the last time you collaborated with other industry experts or explored a new aspect of insurance via a webinar or training opportunity? A better, wiser you not only makes for better business, but may also serve to invigorate your enthusiasm, engagement and effectiveness. That’s a win for your agency, as well as a win for you personally.
Consider the list above as just an idea starter. You may have other “someday goals” that now hold possibility —if you consciously tackle them.
As Benjamin Hardy, an organizational psychology expert and author of Willpower Doesn’t Work, explains, “When you are results-oriented, rather than ‘being busy,’ you’re 100% on when you’re working and 100% off when you’re not. Why do anything half-way? If you’re going to work, you’re going to work.”
So, use technology to find time savings, and then invest that time into working 100% on something that matters more. The opportunities are exciting. What would you like to do that you never seem to have the time to tackle?
About the author:
Steve Aronson is president of Acrisure-Aronson Insurance in Needham, Massachusetts, and a board member of AVYST. He is a licensed insurance agent/broker/producer in 12 states and holds the professional designation of Certified Insurance Counselor. Steven has set the tone for organic growth and led his agency through several acquisitions. His agency joined Acrisure in 2016. He is also an insurance educator and insurance industry technology expert with leadership positions on various national committees (ACT, ACORD, AUGIE and NetVU). He often lectures at insurance conferences around the country.