In an increasingly competitive insurance market, this tech tool can level the playing field for independent agencies.In recent years, independent insurance agents have experienced shrinking profits due to the rising commoditization of insurance products. Consumers increasingly shop for policies based solely on price, leading to reduced margins for personalized insurance lines. Carriers, too, are under the same pressure, and they’ve revised commission structures in response to this development.
Fortunately, smaller independent agencies can adopt a powerful technological solution, a customer relationship management system, to streamline operations and boost revenues. CRM software records valuable information about clients and prospects including contact information, policy materials, leads, and sales opportunities, supports marketing efforts such as sending out automated emails, and analyzes patterns found in the collected data so that agents can better tailor specific products to certain clients. All of this data is accessible in one centralized location, typically in the cloud.
For agents, an investment in CRM programs pays for itself in heightened productivity and efficiency. A 2015 report from Velocify, “The State of Techinsurance,” concluded that CRM systems and lead management software, in addition to other tech tools, increased policy sales per agent by 43%.
Why Independent Agents Need a CRM System
The most obvious benefit of a CRM system is the elimination of bulky paper folders filled with handwritten notes. Instead of retrieving client information from a file cabinet, an agent simply types in the client’s name or policy number and adds any notes or follow-up reminders from a recent conversation.
Aside from prompting agents to contact clients before renewal deadlines, CRM software can help them make much more complex decisions. By combing through the CRM data, for example, agents are able to detect possible risks and recommend appropriate solutions to their clients.
CRM programs further enable agents to communicate with clients and prospects via their preferred platform. With the integration of artificial intelligence, CRM software compiles client and prospect data from a number of mediums, including social media, thereby allowing agents to respond to clients in real-time.
CRM systems aren’t just revolutionizing the agent-client relationship. Carriers are using CRM software to manage alliances with independent agents. Employing a CRM system can steer a carrier’s field organization toward the agencies that best suit its needs.
Once a carrier and agency have partnered, the carrier’s CRM system tracks an agency’s growth in terms of policies, clients, and premiums. And just like an agency’s program reminds agents of when a client’s insurance policy needs to renewed, a carrier’s CRM software monitors important dates and milestones in its agreement with an independent agency, thus promoting better communication between carrier and agency.
What to Look for in a CRM
Fortunately for agents, there are plenty of CRM systems on the marketplace. You can begin your search by logging onto online business software consultant Capterra, which reviews business software programs, including those for insurance agencies.
Agencies can purchase a generic CRM system or software designed for a specific niche, such as property and casualty or health insurance. A basic CRM program typically stores client data and documents regarding them, records client interactions, and cues up significant client dates. Specialized CRM software contains more robust reporting templates such as carrier and policy information, workflow automation, and commission processing. Agents can choose to purchase and install the CRM software or subscribe to a web-based service.
Perhaps the most important feature of a CRM program is its ability to integrate with other systems within the agency. To truly enhance agency operations, the CRM must connect with the office email system, website, and even a lead generation service.
Small and mid-sized independent insurance agencies can succeed in a hyper-competitive insurance industry with the right technology. CRM software arms agents with the tools they need to prosper.