LEVERAGING CUSTOMER DATA
More than a buzzword, info in your existing system can be used to drive easy growth
External data can help you and
your agency “fill in the blanks” of information
about clients and prospects to help you
better understand their needs.
By Chris Paradiso
Most insurance agencies have at least 25% growth opportunities sitting within the current book of business data contained in their management system. Yes, there are diamonds in every agency’s back yard.
Agencies need to leverage this data and recognize the growth potential it drives. This involves creating an efficient and cost-effective process for identifying upselling opportunities, uncovering sales opportunities that you or your sales and service team may have never known about, and augmenting existing information with external—something the life insurance side of our business has been doing for year.
External data can help you and your agency “fill in the blanks” of information about clients and prospects to help you better understand their needs. When we take care of their needs, the independent insurance agent wins because that client stays with your agency for the long term.
I’m the first to admit, I’m kind of sick about hearing about data, data, data. With so much ridiculous talk about data during the past 18 months and so many different versions of the term being tossed around, an agent can be—and often is—easily confused. But at its core, data is nothing more than statistics, facts and information compiled, in our case, to help analyze our agency’s data and/or better help us understand its current and potential future states.
If we would just stop and listen to our clients’ data, we would learn an awful lot about them and their needs.
Traditionally, the largest available data source we agents have is in our agency management system. Interestingly, carriers are purchasing this info for ridiculous amounts from rating systems. We refer to our system as an “Internal Data Source,”because the information is generated from within the agency and entered by the sales and service people who work within the agency. While your management systems hold an enormous amount of data and information on your clients and prospects, it doesn’t provide you or your staff a complete picture of who your clients are, what they may need or want, or what present and future opportunities exist that help to grow your relationship with them.
That’s where “External Data” comes in. External data is simply the collection of statistics and information that sit outside our management system or come from sources outside of our independent insurance agency. This data provides insight that’s not readily available to your agency—things like risk characteristics, demographic data, business performance data, and a whole lot more.
Risk characteristics and how demographic/consumer data can help
Demographic data can be an important asset to an agency. It helps agencies to: learn more about their clients and their risk characteristics, understand opportunities to protect clients against potential risks, and segment how they engage with prospects and customers.
Demographic and consumer data can include average income, net worth, mortgage liens/loan to value information, owned vehicles, business ownership, assets, and hobbies/interests, like travel, gambling habits, collectibles, and so on.
We all want to write “good” business, but until today with our new-found ability to use data, we all survived on a bit of luck. When used the right way, data can show agencies what a “good” risk looks like. This lets agencies focus on working with those clients to expand their relationships and weed out others who may be dragging the agency’s performance down. The end result: increased customer lifetime value and better loss ratios with top carrier partners.
Business performance data
Clients are at the center of an agency’s performance. Using customer data lets agencies better understand their performance in many ways. Top of mind are helping us understand prospects, bringing in new customers, retaining existing customers and growing relationships. Relationships matter most, so let’s invest in them!
Key metrics we use to understand how our business is performing include average client tenure, policies per customer, premium per customer, retention percentage, new business, customer experience, carrier performance, how employees are performing with their customers, and lifetime value. Knowing this lets us make quick decisions on where and how to improve our performance and lead to quicker organic growth.
Not until recently was access to this very important type of data and insights readily available. Our agency found a data tech tool—DONNA by Aureus—at a local insurtech conference. Today, this tool helps our CSRs and sales agents capitalize on the power of data from within our management system, Rocket Referrals, and LightSpeed by integrating with many external data sources. It aggregates information and layers it on top of what’s in our management system to offer a comprehensive view of our customers/clients, providing our CSRs with insights that give them a competitive advantage.
When you plug in such a tool to enrich management system data with external data, you begin to develop a full, 360-degree view of clients. This arms you and your staff with very valuable insights that let you tailor offers that are well received. The end result: more conversions and policies per household, reduced costs, increased ROI, and a better agency bottom line.
Here are examples of how we at Paradiso Insurance use enriched data to increase revenue:
Renewals. Our renewal specialists call each and every client 90 days prior to renewal. Our renewal program is built around the business’s performance over the past year. We leverage public data, such as IRS filings, to track/review the number of employees and recent company growth. A business that has experienced significant growth over the year is likely to be more open to a conversation about expanding coverages and much less focused on pricing. The opposite is also true: A client that struggled financially over the past year may be at risk for shopping their policies.
In personal lines, enriched data may identify a client with an antique or classic car that our agency never knew about or one who collects stamps or has a coin collection. This data can help our CSRs better understand what we need to insure and protect. At the end of the day, it helps us deliver better customer experience.
Such data helps prepare specialists for the renewal call. It also lets us place an underperforming business/client in an automated (digital) nurture email program. It lets us proactively reach out to clients with information on how to manage insurance premiums through higher deductibles, credits, etc.
Our goal is to stay in touch but also keep educational information in front of them; they will look at our agency as something more than just a typical agent who only calls/emails or texts at renewal. Touchpoints are key to keeping trust, and without the enriched data, we wouldn’t know what content we should be placing in front of them.
Upsales. Layering risk and underwriting data from external data sources on top of your client data is a powerful way to quickly identify upselling opportunities in your existing book of business.
For example, we set up data alerts that provide notification on income data of a household along with expendable income; we also have alerts within our system about whether someone resides in an earthquake area or flood zone. This presents us an upsale opportunity and also helps protect the agency from E&O exposure. We make sure we have conversations with our clients and that every call is documented inside our management system.
Data can drive efficiencies in your agency’s upselling process. For instance, your management system may identify that a client is a candidate for an umbrella policy—you write both the auto and the home. But do they have the appropriate underlying limits, and is their home insured to value? Traditionally, the account would have to be manually reviewed for eligibility, a time-consuming task.
A data analysis tool can automatically screen those accounts for you, identifying what needs to be addressed within the underlying policies and providing external data that help you evaluate the situation more efficiently by reducing the amount of time necessary for an account review.
Uncovering unknown needs. The more knowledge you have about your clients, the more effectively you can target marketing based on demographics, location, or online habits.
Demographic data such as age, sex, employment, education, relationship information, and behavioral data (things like website browsing activity, social media interactions, recent purchases) can help you uncover a vast array of unknown needs within your current book of business.
Let’s say one of your clients, Lena, is thinking about buying a boat. She goes online and starts researching the best type of boats for families. She joins a Facebook group dedicated to sharing tips on family road trip vacations to lakes, and she buys Power Boating for Dummies on Amazon.
Without external data, you would never know that you have an opportunity to offer her information on watercraft policies and roadside assistance. Maybe you weren’t aware that she has young children and may need life insurance. There are three additional policies you may be able to write.
Other examples include credit inquiries for mortgages, newly published Google Business listings for a new location or branch, and other life and business events that you would be unaware of without enriched data. Interestingly, an amazing data tool exists that integrates with state motor vehicle departments that can notify you when your client registers a new vehicle, allowing you to respond accordingly.
Armed with knowledge, you can market to your insureds more effectively by offering personalized and tailored information at the correct times and in the right places throughout the client life cycle. If you’re like most agencies, you may have growth opportunities of 20% or more sitting within the data of your current book of business. By augmenting the data in your management system with external data, you can quickly learn more about your customers and better understand their needs. You can use enriched data to increase revenue through:
- Smarter renewal offers. Build a renewal program around your clients’ business performance over the past year.
- Easier upselling. Layering risk and underwriting data from external data sources on top of your client data is a powerful way to quickly identify upselling opportunities that already exist in your book of business.
- Addressing previously unknown needs. The more knowledge you have about your clients, the more effectively you can target marketing based on demographics, location, or online habits.
Simply adding more data to your management system isn’t practical. Using external tools to do the “heavy lifting” of aggregating all of this data makes it easy for your team to consume the results, take the steps to serve your customers’ needs, and find opportunities to grow your agency by 20% or more!
Chris Paradiso is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, headquartered in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. His agency won PIA National’s Excellence in Social Media Award in 2013. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops to help agencies thrive in the online marketing world. Contact Chris via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.