Tag Archives: insurance

Measuring Agency Performance Can’t Be Done with Technology Alone

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Bruce Cochrane of the Renaissance Alliance says agents have to measure everything to stay competitive, however that does not mean relying on technology alone, according to experts who work with and for agencies.

“Many principals make the mistake of believing their agency system is primarily a back-office function that does not affect producers,” says Val Jordan, president of AgenciesOnline and herself a former agency president. “They will delegate the system operation to support staff and leave producers out of the training process.”

Jordan, whose firm develops marketing systems for agents, says owners must take charge of their systems, insist every producer receive all the available training these systems provide and that everyone in the office follows the same protocols:

“These systems all have the capability to measure a wide range of data, but only if everyone uses the same procedures and enters information the same way. It’s the old garbage in, garbage out rule. It’s up to management to make sure that everyone is using the system according to the same rules and best practices. Data must be entered properly and completely at the outset so you can avoid double entry and missing information.”

tech-quote-2014-05-05Brandie Hinen says the emphasis on technology is also misplaced because the skill and support of the agency’s staff – producers, customer service representatives and support staff – are critical to the measurement process. Hinen is a well-known agent coach and speaker and owner of Powerhouse Learning, and was also a star producer.

“You’re paying for very intelligent problem solvers to help your clients oversee and manage one of the more complex aspects of their business – why would you not include those same intelligent problem solvers to help you with key agency functions, all of which involve the use of technology to measure performance,” Hinen said.

Hinen also points out that training takes more than saying “just suck it up.” Every staff member brings different skills, habits and perspectives to the table. The best systems in the world don’t work if the people using them can’t or won’t use them to their best advantage. That said, Hinen recommends going beyond measuring the traditional benchmarks such as new and renewal commission and revenue by line.

“Evaluate what you are ‘committed to create,’” she says, “in other words the experience or emotion you want to evoke in another party – then evaluate if and how you’re getting the responses you want. Conduct periodic surveys with clients with an inexpensive tool such as Survey Monkey or do personalized interviews with select clients.”

Finally, an agency’s social media activity should be monitored and measured continually, not just the number of likes, comments and shares but other details by using free or low-cost tools.

Terry Golesworthy of the Customer Respect Group says monitoring should be the first item on the agenda. “If people are talking about your agency, you need to know about it. Monitoring and responding promptly offers the quickest impact – possibly a lead or saving a client,” he said. “As an agency gets more ambitious, this can be extended to looking for, and responding to people talking about or asking questions about insurance in the local community.”

“Google Alerts is always the first option but also take a look at SocialMention, which can sometimes dig deeper in social media,” he says. “Tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer are all good with free options available.”

This is the second of a series on the technology issues facing agents. The focus will be on practical solutions on many fronts, including the customer experience, mobile, privacy and security.

This article was cross posted at: http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/techtalk/2014/05/05/327698.htm

Mickey Mouse and Selling Insurance?

Walt Disney Animation StudiosIn my May column in Rough Notes, I told agents they could learn a lot about social media from Mickey Mouse. Disney has over 32 million fans on Facebook, over 683,000 of whom share content with their friends. Is the company’s fan following so big just because Mickey is so popular? Perhaps – and no one should discount the power of a heavily promoted icon – just look at Flo or the Gecko. But Mickey’s power is also bound up with the images he conjures and the good feelings he invokes in the hearts and minds of children and adults. So why do so many agents and insurers still rely on just words and numbers to convince people they are better able to protect their assets?

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Communications As Habit

The KeystoneInsurers and producers who truly benefit from their use of social media do so because for them, consistent, honest, give-and-take communications with consumers is not just a tactic but a habit. In his new book, “The Power of Habit — Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business,” New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg talks about “keystone habits,” i.e., those habits that “have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization.” If a company is always focused on the policyholder, always listening instead of just selling, always making customer-focused decisions, its social media participation will be natural, spontaneous and compelling. Conversely, if social media is treated as a “paint by the numbers” exercise, the conversations will be stiff and scripted and the results will be disappointing.

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Insurance Is a Customer Service Business Too

Regulatory oversightAn insurance policy is a legal contract. Insurers and producers are also bound by laws and regulations designed to protect both the insurance buyer and the industry. That is why it is easy for some to dismiss social media. Either they ignore it completely in the belief that it participation is just too risky or they treat it as just another communications tool to push out the corporate, and highly scripted, message.

The insurance industry is also in the customer service business — just as much as any local restaurant, shoe store or national retailer or airline. Insurers represent a lifeline to their policyholders when disaster strikes. Increasingly, today’s consumers want to be reassured from time to time that their selections of a carrier and agent were the right ones. They want to know they are getting value for their money. They want to be given the information and tools to make their own choices. They don’t want to be lectured or scolded.

Airlines and many retailers have discovered how social media can overcome even the most difficult customer confrontations. It is a bit trickier for insurers to navigate in a medium that depends on transparency and spontaneity for its effectiveness.

Being a regulated industry is no excuse, however, for ignoring or dabbling with such a powerful a tool with which to tell the insurance story.

Let’s Just Get Our Feet Wet!

Get our feet wet!We have talked a lot about why all insurers and producers, without exception, need to begin using social media to some degree – for competitive, regulatory and legal reasons. Just as important as getting in the game, however, is using social media in the right way for the right reasons. Yet too many in the industry are making the same mistakes over and over again, so here are the top three violations.

Let’s Just Get Our Feet Wet

I have heard this statement, or something like it, from many marketing executives who argue the value of setting up a Facebook page “just to get started.” For one thing, social media participation is so much more than building one page or one site. For another, without a clear strategy, measurable objectives and tactical plans that maximizes productivity, mitigates risks and builds strong management support, the result will be wasted time and resources and missed opportunities.

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