OPTIMIZING AGENCY AUTOMATION
Don’t assume that once you’ve automated that you’re done
Agencies interested in optimizing agency automation must first identify pain points within their organizations
and the types of customer experiences they want to create.
By Jim Rogers
Agencies interested in optimizing agency automation must first identify pain points within their organizations and the types of customer experiences they want to create.
Insurance agency automation can be key to customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. As the assistant vice president of sales and distribution technology at The Hartford, driving agency automation capabilities in the property and casualty segment, my team works to implement our capabilities across various agency management system (AMS) vendors and insurtech partners. As part of that effort, we also collaborate with industry working groups, including ACORD, Agents Council for Technology (ACT), AUGIE Group, IVANS and ID Federation, on how to streamline agency workflow and data standards development.
Agencies interested in optimizing agency automation must first identify pain points within their organizations and the types of customer experiences they want to create. Once those have been identified, they can turn to their carriers to see what capabilities they can offer. For instance, agencies and brokerages can reference the IVANS carrier guide. At The Hartford, our agents can easily find this information in our agent portal under “Agency|AMS Automation.” After looking at offerings from carriers, agencies and brokerages should consider working with carriers that they have good relationships with first and begin by automating one producer code.
Another important piece of the puzzle is to ensure that each agent has a user ID and password for each carrier. Agencies and brokerages can turn to tools such as ID Federation’s SignOn Once in their management system to minimize the need to remember passwords. Those tools also can reduce the number of times users have to go through multi-factor authentication when signing into their systems.
Carriers can help
At our firm, we help agencies and brokerages integrate their systems, such as Applied Epic, TAM, Tech Canary, CSR24, IVANS Market Appetite and others, to ensure real-time sales and services capabilities. With data analytics, we’re able to provide “just in time” coaching via email if we see that transactions are not successful. During these interactions with users, we can provide agents with step-by-step instructions to make each future sales quote or service inquiry a success. For instance, agents could see the message “your company EBC password is not correct,” and they would be prompted to update the agency management system real-time configuration.
Through solutions like our ICON Bridge capabilities, agents can leverage insurance management solutions with real-time rate functionality while significantly reducing the need to rekey in data. It makes the small business quoting process easier and quicker. This can save a lot of time when agents are working on large accounts with, say, 25 locations and/or 50 vehicles and drivers to insure.
For service inquiries, such as billing questions or claims updates, automation can save a few keystrokes for each transaction, ensuring that inquiries receive replies in three or fewer seconds. Moreover, this provides the agency with greater transparency on accounts because all of the data is available across each system.
Agencies also shouldn’t assume that once they’ve automated their systems that they are done. Here are some key steps to complete after automation:
- Verify all producer codes are enabled
- Ensure that data is prefilling your systems and creating automated messaging (if needed)
- Align any optional capabilities with your agency’s best practices workflow
- Verify your agency management system version is correct in IVANS Exchange (The Hartford, for example, leverages the management system’s version to ensure transactions/data take advantage of your system’s latest features)
Some agents assume that all of their automation capabilities are turned on in their systems. Sooner or later, they discover that’s not the case. For example, not all of their producer codes have been enabled for a specific capability.
Automation capabilities range from accounting, policy, and claims downloads to eDocs for commercial lines/bonds and personal and commercial lines bridging. They also can include billing and audit messages, as well as policy/billing/claims status inquiries.
Our firm has a visual dashboard that can help agencies and brokerages see which capabilities (e.g., claims download) and what percentage of their producer codes are enabled. Agents should review their automated systems quarterly to check for updates and optimize their configurations, which can be done in real-time to ensure they achieve all of the efficiency gains available to them.
Jim Rogers is assistant vice president of sales and distribution technology strategy at The Hartford in Connecticut and a member of Applied Client Network.