More than a decade ago, insurance agencies began moving away from the resource that had been a cornerstone of the industry for centuries: Paper.
Agencies suddenly found that going digital could make them both better at their jobs and more efficient. But today, there are still many tasks for which agencies struggle to find adequate technological solutions.
Here are three examples of how automation can make your agency’s operations more efficient, while also impressing your clients:
1) Reduce keystrokes. Manual data entry is a pain for both agents and clients. For the agent, constantly reentering information wastes time that could be spent on nurturing relationships. For the client, not only is it frustrating and time-consuming, but it also creates room for costly human error.
To put it into perspective, let’s say you have to repeatedly input a client’s name into an insurance form. If their name is John Williams, that’s thirteen keystrokes. If you’re filling out ten forms, that’s 130 keystrokes for the client’s name alone.
Automatic mapping of fields means that if the insured types their information into one form, their answers automatically populate on all other forms with the same or similar questions. This saves the insured a significant amount of time and effort because they never have to answer the same question twice.
Additionally, at renewal time, automatic mapping ensures that a client’s answers from the previous year are transferred to the renewal form. Therefore, the insured only has to verify the information, which greatly improves the client experience.
2) Connect automation with the human touch. Automating communication is a great way for agents to save themselves time. However, it’s a balancing act. While three-quarters of customers want more human interaction, according to the PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey, carefully choosing which communication touchpoints to automate is essential.
Reminding the insured to complete a form, sending a renewal reminder or answering commonly asked questions are definitely tasks that benefit from automation. However, calling a client about policy coverage, engaging with social media posts or emailing specific policy advice are tasks that still require human interaction.
One way to expedite the application and renewal process is to send auto-reminders. Simply schedule a date and time and the auto-reminder will take care of the rest. You can also automate marketing messages with drip campaigns through an email marketing automation platform.
Recently, chatbots have been gaining popularity with insurance agencies and are regarded as a great automation tool to put to use on your website or social media accounts. For example, when a customer visits your website or Facebook page, a chatbot can be programmed to pop up and ask if it can offer assistance. Chatbots can also be programmed to set up appointments or answer frequently asked questions about policies or coverage.
3) Digitize forms. “Well, I already use digital PDFs,” you may be thinking. Unfortunately, PDFs don’t qualify as automated digital documents. While they are better than filling out forms by hand, PDFs do not allow answers to auto-populate and they are not easily edited.
Digitizing common forms speeds up processes and improves accuracy. For example, certain sections of a form may not apply to the client. Rather than confusing the client, you can hide specific questions so they only fill out what’s required. Additionally, with conditional questions, automated forms ensure that the insured only sees a certain question if they answered the previous question with “yes” or a specific answer.
After a smart form has been completed, e-signatures give the insured the option to sign electronically and avoid them having to print, sign and scan. E-signature capability also means insureds no longer have to pass documents around in person or via email to get multiple signatures. This process can sometimes take a week or more, especially if the document is being passed around by hand or delivered in the mail.
A strong automation strategy can help agencies implement technology with minimum disruption. Agencies can start by looking at existing processes, picking out the most time-consuming and labor-intensive ones, and then identifying the best software to automate those processes.
Maximize results while minimizing both costs and effort with automation. Not only will you be able to quickly get complete and accurate information to your insured, but you’ll also be one step closer to reducing internal operational inefficiencies.
Ken Wohl is head of marketing at Indio Technologies.