For years, all sorts of organizations have understood the value of collecting information about their customers. The U.S. Census started in 1790 and has been conducted every decade since then. The Smithsonian Institution first supplied telegraph companies with weather instruments in 1849, establishing an extensive observation network which submitted data to the Smithsonian for creating weather maps.
One of most recent trends in data and statistics evolved in professional sports—especially baseball, thanks to metrics like batting averages, RBIs, ERAs and slugging percentage, which measures the power of a hitter. Similarly, in basketball, NBA fans recently embraced the “plus-minus” metric: a team’s point differential when a specific player is on the court, which marks the difference in points scored for and against.
Plus-minus is a valuable statistic because it captures a player’s more “minor” contributions that don’t necessarily show up in common measurements like baskets, assists and rebounds, therefore revealing how a team fares when a particular player is in the game. After all, that’s every team’s goal: to win games regardless of each player’s individual prowess.
Independent insurance agencies can and should capture statistics about a variety of agency benchmarks, such as policies in force, customer retention and profitability, just to name a few. Since every insurance agency has a sales culture, tracking individual production is especially important. Lately, many agencies have also begun surveying their clients and customers to ascertain how they perceive the agency’s service capabilities.
The Big “I” Best Practices Study collects and publishes a wealth of data from top-performing agencies around the country. It addresses metrics such as the number of accounts per CSR, compensation practices, organic growth and profitability, and more. Essentially, the study serves as a blueprint for agencies to benchmark their own performance relative to the best in the business.
I find it ironic that many of us who focus on sports statistics don’t apply the same discipline to our business activities—but of course, not every aspect of an employee’s contributions is measurable. Each independent insurance agency could and should focus on capturing more statistics relevant to its client base and lines of business. By doing so, your agency could discover your own plus-minus to help you determine which staff members are really committed to putting the agency in a winning position, among other valuable insights.
Aside from the players, the recipe for a successful team is a coach who must be committed to an ongoing process of innovation. Have you upped your agency’s data game in order to compete more effectively?
Dave Evans is a certified financial planner and an IA contributor.