The average professional spends almost two and a half hours a day reading and responding to emails—28% of the entire work week, according to McKinsey.
Unfortunately, the more time and energy you spend on administrative email communication, the less you spend on being a trusted adviser for your clients.
The traditional email process is a hotbed for E&O and miscommunication. Of course, email itself is not inherently bad—it’s just that the way you use email needs improvement.
Here are five ways to start improving your email processes today:
1) Manage client applications and renewals in an online portal. Modern agencies are decreasing their dependency on email by leveraging tools and software that streamline the application and renewal process.
One excellent solution is an online portal—a central location—where you can digitally store and manage applications and renewals.
Consider it a hub where all your clients’ documents live. When you move applications and renewals to an online portal, you can manage everything right within this location. It’s also easy for insureds to access all their documents in one place, which alleviates the dependency on email.
2) Send a single link. For the insured, a long, bulky email can be intimidating. And considering the average time spent reading an email is 11.1 seconds, you don’t have a lot of time to capture the insured’s attention.
Emails need to be concise and immediately let the insured know how to complete the application. With an online portal, you no longer need to create bulky emails filled with attachments and detailed instructions for applications and renewals.
Instead, since everything is stored in a digital format in one online location, you can send a single link to your insureds for them to log in and access everything you would previously have to craft into an email.
3) Automate reminders. Instead of spending time writing tedious follow-up emails to clients who are dragging their feet, use your online portal to send auto-reminders for you. The entire application process becomes more streamlined and easier for both you and the client.
4) Download/export information. As you attach and send important information back and forth via email with the insured, you run the risk of:
- Outdated documents. It’s easy to lose track of attachments. Forms often go through several iterations. Old emails with outdated attachments are a problem if the agent or insured thinks they have the most current version. The result? Mistakes and extra work.
- Security issues. They may be routine, but email attachments are shockingly unsafe. Sensitive, confidential information can be easily hacked with email attachments. You also don’t know who is even opening the attachments as emails are forwarded.
- Undeliverability. The size of an email can affect whether or not it makes it to its destination. The maximum file size that can be sent via email is around 10-25 MB. Emails with large attachment files may also be marked as spam.
With an online portal, you can download and export documents, applications and forms at any time and easily transfer them. The insured can log in to the portal at any time to complete their insurance applications and forms, rather than sorting through complicated email attachments.
5) Track changes in real time. Changes within applications are difficult to track with email. Anytime an insured makes an update to data, you can’t follow along—you can only check when you get the return email, then carefully compare to previous information to annotate all the changes. If you happen to overlook anything, your E&O exposure increases greatly.
The right portal tracks the changes the insured makes, time stamps them, and provides them in an easy-to-read, color-coded, itemized list. The insured can log in to the portal at any time to make changes.
Ken Wohl is head of marketing of Indio Technologies, software for independent agents that streamlines the application and renewal process between agents and their insureds.
What Not to Do
Consider the traditional way an agency communicates with an insured via email:
- Compiling bulky emails. You fill out emails with a dozen attachments and write a long list of directions during the renewal process.
- Drafting/sending email reminders. In addition to the first email, you continually write and send emails to remind the insured to fill out their insurance forms.
- Sorting through email threads. As the insured responds with questions and attachments, you have to ensure you don’t miss any important emails in the process.
- Worrying about attachments. Is this the most current version? Emailing documents back and forth with the insured creates risk. —K.W.