As transformation in the insurance industry makes it easier for insureds to research, find and purchase insurance, independent agents are having to adapt their value proposition. Traditionally, the value of the agent has been in the relationship with the client and finding the best products to protect what matters most to people.
The shift towards technology-enabled direct-to-consumer insurance sales has resulted in a very price-competitive insurance market. According to Brenna Johnson, senior product manager at insurance technology company EZLynx, anything an agent can do to “focus on their two primary values - offering value to insureds and building relationships – is going to help them transition along with the industry.”
One way for agents to do this is by leveraging technology. Johnson takes Insurance Business through five key ways independent agents can leverage technology to solve business problems, while becoming more efficient and effective:
“Some tasks don’t necessarily need to be done by a human. Agents can use technology to automate certain tasks, which means they can spend more time talking to the insured, building relationships and communicating their key values,” said Johnson.
The EZLynx fix comes in the shape of the Automation Center – a tool that automates simple, repetitive tasks that don’t need to be carries out by an agent. According to Johnson: “It frees up the agent’s time to focus on really high-value tasks.”
INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH COLLABORATION
There are many studies across multiple industries that show how collaboration and agreement across goals and tasks can help firms make gains in productivity. A successful collaborative environment has also been proven to produce better shareholder returns.
“We have a product that focuses on collaboration called the EZLynx Agency Workspace, which is part of our agency management system. It’s a place where agents can document everything that’s happening with a client,” Johnson told Insurance Business. “So, if an insured calls the agency saying they have a question about their red Corvette but they can’t remember who they spoke to before or what was discussed, an agent can run a quick search in the Agency Workspace and pull up documentation of the entire discussion about the red Corvette.
“Client servicing doesn’t happen in a silo. It could include email correspondence, phone calls and text messages. Having all of that together in one place helps give the agent important context so they’re not asking the insured questions for answers they should already know.”
AUTOMATING DETAILED ANALYSIS
Independent agents often spend a lot of time doing detailed analysis work because of the complex and legal nature of the insurance business. Once again, technology can automate some of the more cumbersome fact-checking, analytical tasks and open up more time for the agent to spend having conversations with the insured.
Johnson explained: “If you take the renewal process as an example, a lot of agents spend a tremendous amount of time pouring through deck pages trying to find tier changes that might help them explain the answers to their insureds’ questions. Our EZLynx Retention Center tool automates that process, runs comparisons and checks within seconds and then summarizes those changes for the insured. Instead of spending hours reading through deck pages, the agent can spend more time with the insured, explaining why their current insurer is a good fit for them or not.”
According to Johnson: “Technology should be the engine that drives your business process forward.”
The EZLynx Sales Center is a pipeline management tool that also intelligently predicts sales opportunities from within an agency’s data. If an agent runs a quote through the EZLynx Rating Engine, that action is picked up and recorded in the sales center. All EZLynx products are built on similar foundations to enable data sharing and process efficiencies.
“We want all the data to be in the same place to support business process, increase transparency and eliminate the need for agents to re-enter the same information over and over again,” Johnson added. “Technology can bring guidance and support to business practices. It should not detract from them.”
IDENTIFING UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
“Independent agents are so busy and focused on so many different activities that they leave money on the table because they simply aren’t aware of it,” John told Insurance Business. “Technology is an incredible tool that can help agents grow without them having to put in too much extra effort.”
When it comes to retention, agents are losing money either because they don’t have retention processes, or the methods they do have are tedious and time-consuming, according to Johnson. To tackle this problem, the technology firm launched the EZLynx Retention Center, which provides an automated and streamlined retention process to help agencies increase their retention points without having to add a significant amount of manpower.
EZLynx is also releasing a new tool to assist with new business growth. Johnson explained why: “What we see is that agents spend a lot of time getting new leads and prospects into their pipeline, and whether they sell them or not, they often fail to go back and mine the data that’s already in their systems.
“When it comes to technology tools, it’s not that technology is doing something that a human could never do; it’s just that it’s not cost-effective to pay a human to carry out certain tasks, when technology could do it much more quickly and efficiently.”