The Insurance Perspectives Podcast involves contributors outside of HawkSoft. The participants' views are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of HawkSoft.
This recap of the Insurance Perspectives Podcast summarizes highlights of the two episodes about Aureus Analytics, where HawkSoft host Kenny Hendricks interviews Thomas Mann from Aureus Analytics and Rob Bowen from Patriotic Insurance Group, an agency using their DONNA tool. Thomas and Rob discuss how Aureus Analytics is transforming the use of data in the independent agency channel, and how agencies of every size can take advantage of insights from their book of business.
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In this article:
- Part 1: Aureus Analytics (Thomas Mann)
- What is Aureus Analytics' reason for participating in the independent agency channel?
- What one aspect of DONNA draws agencies in and keeps them working with you?
- How does Aureus Analytics approach data ownership with regards to your customers?
- What is the hardest part of working with insurance agencies?
- What is the best part of working with insurance agencies?
- Part 2: Patriotic Insurance Group (Rob Bowen)
Part 1: Aureus Analytics (Thomas Mann)
Watch the video podcast - Part 1
Question 1: Why does Aureus Analytics exist? What is your reason for participating in the independent agency channel?
- Host Kenny Hendricks introduces Thomas Mann, Director of Customer Success at Aureus Analytics. Thomas has a breadth of experience in the insurance space, including as an agent in his home state of North Carolina.
- Thomas discusses how the insurance industry, especially within the Independent Agency channel, is playing catch-up with technological advancements seen in other sectors. He explains that Aureus Analytics brings technologies like big data analytics and machine learning, which are prevalent in other business sectors, to this market.
- Aureus Analytics aims to provide capabilities that were previously only attainable for larger organizations to agencies of every size, type, and point in development.
- DONNA, Aureus Analytics’ flagship software product, has a straightforward goal: to help agencies increase revenue from their existing book of business. This is achieved by leveraging technological efficiencies and advantages previously unavailable to the sector.
- Kenny agrees that such resource-intensive technologies, which were once exclusive to large organizations with dedicated data analytics departments, are now being made accessible to agencies at all levels. This democratization of technology ensures a more level playing field for all agencies.
“Ultimately we want to empower agencies to have the same advantages and the ability to move our industry forward that other verticals have. DONNA’s stated purpose is really to help agencies make more money from their existing book of business, which is a very simple concept.”
Question 2: If you had to pick one aspect of DONNA that draws in and keeps agencies working with you, what would that be and why?
- Thomas highlights a unique feature of DONNA called the "SentiMeter score." This score, ranging from 0 to 100, provides real-time insights into customer satisfaction for both personal and commercial accounts. Unlike traditional customer satisfaction and NPS scores, which can become outdated quickly, the SentiMeter score offers a more dynamic and current view of customer sentiment, and can be used predictively to identify potential risks or the likelihood of a client to accept a new policy.
- Thomas also mentions DONNA's data enrichment feature that pulls in external data to provide actionable insights. For instance, if an external source indicates a customer has registered a boat, but there's no corresponding policy in the agency's data, DONNA will suggest offering boat insurance to that customer.
- Kenny points out the difference in scoring method between the SentiMeter and NPS. Thomas explains that a score between 81-100 indicates satisfied customers, 61-80 suggests neutral sentiment, and 60 or below indicates dissatisfaction.
- Rob Bowen affirms the value of the SentiMeter score, and says he uses it to identify which clients are struggling, which have opportunities for cross-sell, and which carriers are providing unsatisfactory service. He notes that while DONNA provides valuable insights, it's essential to review it with a human eye to decide what is truly worthy of acting upon.
“Things like customer satisfaction scores and NPS scores are useful data points, but they're time-bound. We're using that data…in a predictive model. We use our SentiMeter as a data point to help the independent agent understand who is a likely retention risk.”
Question 3: How does Aureus Analytics approach data ownership with regards to your customers?
- Thomas states Aureus Analytics’ stance that, like HawkSoft, they believe the data of agency owners belongs to them, and they should have the freedom to use it as they see fit.
- DONNA allows users to filter and download specific segments of their customer data, ensuring that agents have full control over their data.
- Thomas specifies that DONNA does not access sensitive data (PII) aside from basic contact info, or sell customer data to third-party companies. Aggregate customer data is used only for their benchmarking feature, allowing agencies to compare their performance anonymously with other agencies on the platform.
- Thomas highlights that data security is also a focus at Aureus Analytics. The company is SOC II compliant and has achieved a level of ISO certification on par with many financial institutions, indicating a high standard of data protection.
- Kenny acknowledges the importance of AI and machine learning in the industry, but stresses the need for clarity and transparency in how data is used. He appreciates the high security standards set by DONNA and adds that HawkSoft is SOC II certified as well.
“We are aligned [with HawkSoft] in that the agency owner’s data is theirs. That book of business is what they're working to build, and they should be able to do what they like with it. We're not using your customers’ personally identifiable information, or even less sensitive information. We're not selling it. You own the rights.”
Question 4: What is the hardest part of working with insurance agencies?
- Thomas, whose own father was a lifelong insurance agent, highlights a common challenge when working with independent agencies: "shiny object syndrome." Agency principals often get distracted by new tools or technologies without fully implementing or understanding the ones they already have. Due to the fast-paced nature of agency environments, it becomes challenging to focus on one thing, making the onboarding process for platforms like DONNA difficult.
- Rob agrees with Thomas in some respects, adding that many in the industry view technology as an expense rather than an investment. They often have unrealistic expectations, like achieving a 100% renewal rate after signing up for DONNA. He believes agency owners should see beyond the initial costs and effort and actually try out the tool to understand its value.
- Rob emphasizes the importance of quality data input; if the data entered into HawkSoft is poor, it will affect the results in DONNA. He also mentions that while many platforms offer NPS scores, Aureus Analytics' approach with DONNA is unique.
- Kenny discusses the mission of the podcast, which is to create better-informed consumers. He acknowledges the impulse to chase new technologies, but stresses the importance of understanding how to effectively use them.
“There seems to be this highly contagious disease amongst agency principals, and that is shiny object syndrome. They don't really get the maximum ROI or even fully implement the tools that either they've already purchased or they've done a trial of in the past. That leads to a surface-level understanding of what technology they have access to.”
Question 5: What is the best part of working with insurance agencies?
- Thomas shares that he loves to help agencies reach an “aha moment,” where they are able to successfully implement a tool and truly experience its value.
- Thomas also mentions that he loves hearing the stories of independent agents, and that when he meets prospective customers he wants to know the agency’s story, team, and goals.
“One of the best parts of working with the insurance agents is the ability to give agencies what I call their ‘aha moment,’ whether that is helping them clean up bad data or understand how the SentiMeter can help them build a process. Getting them to a point where they not only see value in our platform, but it's just obvious that you're helping them run their business better, is something that I'm quite passionate about.”
Question 6: How does DONNA work with HawkSoft?
- Thomas explains that HawkSoft was one of the first integration partners for DONNA and remains one of the easiest management system integrations for agencies to set up. Customers fill out a short profile for DONNA and enable the integration in HawkSoft Marketplace. Users can typically have a walkthrough of the platform with their data already validated within a week of signing up.
- Thomas emphasizes that while DONNA considers multiple data points, the data from the agency management system should remain the source of truth, where all data should be kept up to date in order to generate accurate insights.
- Rob shares that his agency utilizes DONNA to streamline renewals, especially with the volatility of the hard market. The SentiMeter score in DONNA helps agencies identify potential issues with clients and decide on actions, whether it be letting go of problem clients or putting extra effort into retaining profitable ones.
“The SentiMeter score gives you the opportunity to get rid of some clients. We just had one the other day. The SentiMeter score is low. This person has monoline auto. They're not going to be cross-sold. I can point my team in the direction they need to be, which are the higher tiers. Or we can ask if it’s worth it to get that score up. So you can use this [the SentiMeter] both ways, which is really kind of cool.”
Part 2: Patriotic Insurance Group (Rob Bowen)
Watch the video podcast - Part 2
Question 1: Tell us about your agency. How long have you been in the business, and how did you get into the business? Do you have any specializations? What gets you excited about insurance?
- Kenny introduces Rob Bowen, who has about 20 years of experience in the financial and insurance sector of New York and is now the principal and owner of Patriotic Insurance Group in upstate New York. Rob is a member of the HawkSoft User Group Board of Directors and a veteran of the United States Navy.
- Rob shares that Patriotic Insurance Group became independent in October 2020. Before that, he worked at Farmers and had a stint at State Farm. He mentions that his decision to go independent during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the best decisions he ever made.
- Rob's agency currently has two part-time staff in the U.S. and a full-time employee in Venezuela. They are in the process of acquiring another agency in upstate New York, which will double their team.
- Rob's agency has a 65/35 split between personal and commercial lines, and is working toward an even 50/50 split. The agency specializes in real estate on the commercial side, and on the personal lines side they aim to cater to a slightly higher net worth market and avoid price shoppers who could be served by direct insurance.
- Rob shares that what excites him most about insurance is the people he’s able to interact with and the relationships he builds with clients, agents, and other members of the industry.
“Over the last three years, the reason I've been able to acquire so much knowledge is because I'm around the right people. You're as smart as the five people you hang out with. So you're hanging around these people, you're going to these mastermind groups, these events, you're meeting the vendors that are surrounding us. And that's the best part.”
Question 2: How does your agency use DONNA with your HawkSoft agency management system?
- Rob first learned about DONNA at a HawkSoft conference in San Diego. He felt it was ahead of where his agency was at the time, but believed it would add value in the future.
- Rob emphasizes the importance of working with technology partners who are genuine. He recalls the attitude of some insurtech companies he met several years ago, which were dismissive of agents and their needs, and contrasts it with Aureus Analytics’ approach of talking with him about his agency’s goals in both the short-term and long-term.
- Rob feels that DONNA assists independent agents by providing an additional layer of technology, understanding, and data to improve the agency’s processes. He appreciates the company’s honesty and transparency with its customers.
- Thomas adds that it’s in the best interest of both the technology provider and the agency to be upfront about their needs and whether they will be a good fit for each other, which is crucial for long-term success.
- Rob stresses the importance of technology partners focusing on smaller agencies, which make up 80% of the industry, as much as they do on larger ones. He notes this is something he values about both Aureus Analytics and HawkSoft.
“It was very clear to me that DONNA was here to help the independent agent and to add another layer of technology, another layer of understanding, and another layer of data in my agency so I could become better. That was obvious.”
Question 3: What is your agency able to do now with DONNA that you couldn't do before?
- Rob discusses how DONNA has influenced his perspective on the importance of data. He emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all client data is logged properly in HawkSoft so that it can be used accurately in analytics. He admits that initially his agency had limited data in DONNA, but over time as the system had access to more data, the analytics became more accurate and valuable.
- Rob uses DONNA to quickly assess his book of business, including upselling and cross-selling opportunities. He appreciates the dashboard and KPIs provided by DONNA, which he prefers over looking at detailed reports. These insights allow him to address potential issues proactively and ensure effective communication within his agency.
- Rob shares a few ways he uses DONNA’s proprietary SentiMeter score, which measures the sentiment of a customer on a scale of 0 to 100. This score provides insights into the customer's satisfaction, coverage, and relationship with the agency.
- He uses it to identify potential issues with renewals, such as reviewing the 10 lowest scores in his database before renewal.
- He checks the scores of his VIP clients to ensure they’re satisfied with his service.
- He uses it to evaluate the performance of carriers, by seeing whether low scores correlate with certain carriers. He finds that some carriers are challenging to work with due to their lack of technology and inefficient processes, and SentiMeter scores can help him identify these trends.
- Rob emphasizes the importance of responsiveness and customer service, sharing that these factors drew him to both HawkSoft and DONNA.
“I can look at renewals in the next 30 to 60 days, and I can look at the bottom ten SentiMeter scores of those renewals. I can also verify on my top-tier clients that their SentiMeter scores are high. One of the greatest things is going in and saying, what are my bottom five carriers on a SentiMeter score basis?”
Question 4: What is one thing that you would change about DONNA if you could?
- Rob suggests that DONNA, like many platforms, could do more to cater to smaller agencies. He believes that many agencies, especially smaller ones, may need help understanding the benefits that DONNA can offer them.
- Rob advises agencies to simply try out DONNA to truly understand its capabilities and the insights it can provide about their business. He points out that even if it only helps you save a few customers a year, it will have already paid for itself.
- Rob highlights the importance of upselling and cross-selling, noting that while the data might be present in HawkSoft, DONNA makes the data truly actionable.
- Rob appreciates that Thomas gathers feedback from agents, including himself, and believes that such feedback is crucial for the continuous improvement of DONNA. Rob commends Thomas for focusing on practical applications of DONNA, such as aiding in the renewal process, rather than simply showcasing bells and whistles.
“Just try it [DONNA]. You will be shocked at what you’re going to learn about your book of business. If it saves a couple accounts and you cross-sell correctly, you’ll see how much revenue it brings in that you wouldn’t have had a shot at because you didn’t have the data.”
Question 5: How would you describe the value that DONNA brings to your agency?
- Rob emphasizes the transformative value of DONNA, stating that it has reshaped his perspective on his agency and changed the way he thinks about his business. He highlights the tool's ability to guide renewal processes and identify upselling opportunities, which are potentially three times the size of his agency’s current premium.
- Rob points out that while many agencies are aware of the need for cross-selling, executing it effectively remains a challenge. DONNA provides actionable insights that can help agencies identify and capitalize on these opportunities.
- He believes that DONNA's true value lies in its ability to provide analytical insights into an agency's operations, prompting a proactive approach of focusing on the right groups of customers. He notes that DONNA helps his agency stay forward-thinking and keep evolving to meet the future.
- Kenny discusses the integration of DONNA with HawkSoft and how it uses third-party data sources to provide enriched data, which can help agencies identify potential additional risks that clients may need covered.
- Thomas emphasizes that DONNA is a versatile tool that can adapt to an agency's scale and needs, and that an agency can use as much or little functionality as they desire. He shares an example of an agency that only implemented calls for customers with low SentiMeter scores, and achieved a 5% increase in policy retention within five months on DONNA.
- Thomas encourages agencies to think about their specific needs and goals, and how better data could help them accomplish them.
“The DONNA dashboard changed my mindset. It changes the way I view my agency, changes the way I view the data. It causes my mind to shift so I can run my agency better, and that's priceless... As API and the data flow get better and better, it’s going to keep changing. Now I'm evolving because DONNA's forcing me to evolve. And that, I think, is what gets me to the future.”
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