Guest blog by Zack Yurch, Semsee
Guest blogs are written by contributors outside of HawkSoft. The author's views are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of HawkSoft.
It's time to change how you evaluate technology. Most agents know they need better technology but aren’t sure how to go about it. With the growth of the Insurtech industry, there are now four to five vendors that solve each problem. You, as the agent, have the power to choose and the responsibility to find what works best for your agency. Now the discussion should evolve to implementing the right solutions at the right phase of growth. There are hundreds of solution partners in the market—but not all are going to be a good fit for every insurance agency.
For many agents, simplistic solutions seem like a natural fit. This is especially true for those without a Chief Information Officer or Head of Technology. Solutions that are easy to understand and don't take much time to learn may look the best at first glance, but these solutions often only address a single issue and don't adapt to constantly evolving market changes. The result? Agents develop workarounds or purchase more tools, which leads to rekeying data, multiple screens, and inefficient workflows.
To solve their workflow challenges, agents need to get comfortable embracing change in the name of improving efficiencies and profitability. An impactful solution might be more complex and take more time to learn, but it may also grow with the agency, connect to other tools the agent is using, and create a more cohesive and time-saving workflow.
Here are some ways agents can make sure they are selecting the right tools to help them solve their main challenges:
1. Do your due diligence
Consider using a software comparison tool like Capterra or G2 when evaluating which solution you’d like to move forward with. Think about your agency's strategy and what challenges you want to solve.
What features are your must-haves versus your nice-to-haves? You can work from a checklist of key capabilities every solution needs. This may include questions like:
- Does it integrate with your AMS or have a path for integration?
- Does it eliminate duplicate entry?
- Does it make your workflow faster and more efficient?
- Does it fit into your existing workflow or require workarounds?
Create a spreadsheet and score each solution for different categories. Add up the cumulative score across the board and see which solution is the best fit for you. Take the time you need to consider every angle—don’t allow yourself to be sold on the first call with the sales rep.
2. Ask the right questions on demo calls
The demo is your best opportunity to ask someone questions about the product. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask:
- What makes a customer an ideal fit for this solution?
- Which lines of business/carriers/etc will it work with?
- What are the customer support options?
- What is the contract length (ideally it’s month to month, but the maximum should be no more than 1 year)?
- What is the cancelation policy?
- How is the pricing structured?
- Is there a free trial?
- How long does it take to get fully up and running?
3) Understand the vision for the solutions you’re selecting
As your business grows, make sure the solutions you are selecting are working toward serving your needs as they continue to evolve. The industry is evolving and solutions need to keep up. So, will a solution be able to grow with your agency? Focus on the direction you want to take the agency in the future. If you’re looking to grow commercial lines, for example, you shouldn't select a solution designed for personal lines.
Make sure the vendor can articulate where the tool is headed over time. Is the rater you're considering eventually going to assist with determining market appetite? Even if the solution doesn't have that capability today, a growth plan can help the agency advance its business.
4) Consider the level of support included
The best solution providers want agents to use the product and have teams in place ready to help you when things go awry. They should not only have a customer service team fixing bugs in the platform, but friendly faces there to train and help get your agency comfortable and confident when using the platform.
They should teach you how to use it, introduce the capabilities, and show you how to get the most benefits. This should be an ongoing resource you can turn to for questions, refreshers, and updates on new features.
5) Make sure you have the right people involved
If you’re trying to make your CSRs more efficient but don’t have them on the demo, you won’t know if the tool helps them until it's too late and the money has been spent.
Understanding the teams you’re supporting with the technology, and having the decision makers involved from the beginning and throughout the process, is essential to getting buy-in and onboarding with real traction. Include decision makers and power users on the demos so you are able to move forward and make a decision having input from the top down and bottom up of the organization.
6) Give the technology a chance!
Always remember that it takes roughly 90 days for a team to adopt a new technology solution, so if you decide 10 days in that it doesn’t work for you, it's money down the drain when you really have just begun.
Make sure your team evaluates the software beforehand, then uses it consistently, long enough to see if it's actually working for your agency.
All users should be leveraging the technology platform at least once a week and having regular feedback sessions to share what’s working and what’s not. Using those sessions to share successes and failures may help with training as well - it could be user error or lack of understanding that causes technology to fail, rather than the platform itself.
A strong customer support team will have regular check-ins with new users, making sure they clearly understand and know how to use the technology in their day-to-day operations. If there are pain points you’re struggling with, let them know—they might have a solution!
7) Use a password management solution
Last but not least, selecting more technology means managing more passwords. Keeping track of logins and passwords is everyone’s least favorite thing to manage, especially as team members come and go. Be sure to use something like LastPass or BitWarden to help keep track of all of your agency logins in a secure manner now that you have all of this new technology in place!
Choosing new technology is a big decision for an agency. Doing the work up front to ensure you’re making the best possible choice and you have the processes in place for smooth implementation is the best way to set your staff up for success.
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