This story is the last in a series that highlights new developments in the agency management system space.
You might know EZLynx® as the tech company that revolutionized comparative rating for independent agents. But don’t let that reputation fool you—EZLynx also offers a full soup-to-nuts agency management system built on the latest marketplace innovations in tech.
“What people don’t realize is that the innovations that got us to where we are from a rating standpoint are the same type of innovations we’re growing within the management system,” says Brady Polansky, vice president of agency relations at EZLynx.
As a management system, EZLynx’s value proposition is that everything is contained within a single platform—“which means we don’t have to cobble together disparate systems to try to talk to each other,” Polansky says. “As a result, we know information other systems don’t know. We know close ratios because we know you quoted it and we know you wrote it. You don’t have to try to figure all that out—we can do that behind the scenes for you, and we can do it intuitively.”
2015: What’s New?
RETENTION CENTERTM. According to Polansky, the typical independent agent loses 1 in 5 policies every year. “If you ask any agent, ‘How satisfied are you with your retention?’, nobody’s going to tell you they’re completely satisfied,” Polansky says. “What we wanted to do was to create a tool that allows the agent to very quickly and very effectively communicate with every one of their customers on every policy renewal.”
Even if your retention rate is in the 90s, it’s not perfect—and that’s a particularly important issue for independent agents struggling to compete with captives and directs. “One of the things independent agents do very poorly compared to direct writers and captives is they have this ‘set it and forget it’ mentality,” Polansky points out. “If you look at a Farmers or a State Farm, you know once a month their clients are receiving some form of communication from the company.”
EZLynx Retention Center, a new patented technology that was a finalist in the 2015 ACORD Insurance Innovation Challenge, considers a customer’s entire account and uses predictive analytics to determine—on a daily basis—whether that account is at risk of defection at the time of the renewal. Translation: Retention Center helps you focus your outreach efforts in the right place.
“It looks at a number of factors to say, ‘This policy is in line with what you would expect to pay, or it’s not,” Polansky explains. For policies that are on track, agents can pursue cross-selling opportunities and ask for referrals. For those that aren’t, Retention Center helps you stay proactive about disgruntled customers.
“The way it used to work is the agent used to wait for the phone to ring with an upset customer going, ‘Why did my bill go up this much?’ And the CSR would drop everything and re-rate it and take a look at it and try to save the account,” Polansky says. “But that customer was already tainted.”
With Retention Center, “now the customer’s getting a note from the agent saying ‘Hey, we just saw your renewal—woah! Don’t worry, we’re working on it,’” Polansky says, noting that Retention Center agencies are already enjoying increases in retention rates, customer satisfaction and policies per customer. “Not only are they seeing an improvement in their revenue from the policies they’re keeping that didn’t fall through the cracks, they’re also seeing an increase in revenue because they’re selling additional policies.”
Bonus: Agencies that use Retention Center also experience an increase in their EBITDA multiplier—a valuation that’s extremely important to buyers. “They’re going to say, ‘This is a better book of business. You’re keeping customers, you’ve got more policies and we’re willing to pay more for a situation like that,’” Polansky says.
AGENCY WORKSPACETM. In a typical agency management system, each activity is a separate ongoing activity. “In EZLynx Agency Workspace, we’ve turned that upside-down: What happens are not necessarily single one-off activities, but a conversation or thread of activities around a single event,” Polansky explains.
That means agents can begin with a single event, and as multiple people collaborate on that one event, the multitasking collaboration tool tracks all relevant activity in one thread. For example, a producer receives a call from a customer about adding a new auto to their policy and makes a note to do so; the CSR calls the customer asking for additional information; a policy processor contacts the dealership for the vehicle identification number; and another employee sends the evidence of coverage to the loss payee.
“At the end of the day, this says you added a vehicle and there are 15 parts,” Polansky says. “If you think of the standard management system, these are just 15 different items that are interspersed within the customer’s account with different timelines. But in Agency Workspace, each individual vehicle part is all seen within this thread, so it’s very easy to ask, ‘What are all the activities? What’s outstanding in this? How do I follow through?’”
In addition to enabling different agency staffers to follow along with the thread simultaneously, the collaboration tool also creates series of tasks for follow-up, offers options to set up pop-up reminders and allows agents to drag and drop documents directly into the thread, rather than using a separate document management function.
2016: What’s Next?
COMMERCIAL LINES. In 2016, EZLynx will focus on improving its commercial lines presence—particularly in terms of the submission and tracking process. “This is going to take some time to collaborate with the various underwriters,” Polansky says. “We don’t want to create an independent insurance exchange, but what we want to do is make sure the trading partners get the data they need in the way that they need it.”
CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS. In addition to integrated e-signatures, text messaging and email campaigns—“we’re taking time to make those even better,” Polansky says—he adds that “there’s going to be more coming in the marketing campaigns and customer communication side of things.”
CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE. EZLynx offers Client Center, a 24/7 customer portal where insureds can log in, print auto ID cards, request changes, view policy information and more. “We’re really good at that for the personal lines customers, but now we’re going to focus on commercial lines,” Polansky says.
Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.