Quality customer service throughout the buying chain is key to customer retention and loyalty. Policyholders expect it from their agents, and if they don’t get it, they’ll find a different agency to work with. Worse yet, they’ll go with a direct online provider (which is a whole other blog). The same goes for agents and their carriers. If a carrier does not offer the tools agents need to keep their agency management system (AMS) up to date with their policyholders’ information, agents will place business with an insurer that does.
There is a suite of digital solutions that sits between both sets of these expectations that can help ensure greater satisfaction for all parties—Download. Today’s ‘carrier of choice’ not only provides policy Download that meets their agents’ needs, but also Direct Bill Commission Statements, Claims, and eDocs & Messages Downloads. This powerhouse combination gives agents ALL the data they need in their systems to provide the quality of service their customers expect. And it’s probably the simplest digital solution a carrier can offer its agents. Keeping agents’ databases in sync with carriers’ saves agents from having to contact carriers to confirm updates to customers’ policies and entering those changes into their own systems. The automated Download process lets agents accurately answer policyholder questions or concerns in real time, and gives them more time, overall, with those customers. Streamlining workflows is key to agency efficiency, and agents look to their carriers as partners on this front. Carriers that give their agents more opportunities to streamline are those that agents will go to time and again.
Here’s the key, though: Download is not something you can implement and walk away from. It requires constant communication and collaboration between agents, carriers, and Agency Management System vendors in order to work well.
Carrier Collaboration with Management System Vendors
Agency Management System vendors help carriers implement Download. It’s important for carriers to keep their certification with management system vendors up to date. AMS vendors regularly make updates and enhancements to their systems, as do carriers with their downloaded data streams. Keeping certifications current ensures the data continues to update where it should.
Agent and Carrier Collaboration
Both agents and carriers have important roles to play in ensuring agent adoption of Download.
Agents need to make sure they are taking the necessary defensive steps to prevent Download from blowing away their agency management system data. As one CSR we met on one of our Agent Insight visits said: “… Agents have to appreciate the importance of where data is kept within their agency management system and be diligent about not saving valuable data in fields not meant for that information.” Database customization in an AMS is a sure fire way for an agent to have issues with a carrier’s Download. Carriers should encourage agents to run a few test policies before accepting the nightly Download so they can see where the data is updating in the system, check the quality of the data, and ensure it is what they expect.
Carriers’ field reps should also play a crucial, frontline communications role around Download, keeping agents continuously updated. Mike Foy, President of Foy Insurance, said recently in our Top 10 Agent Aggravations webinar, “Sometimes I do not know that carriers have turned on new lines for Download or have added Claims Download.” Field reps should keep agents constantly abreast of new offerings, when updates are available, how agents can get the Download and, ideally, if there are issues.
It is more important than ever for agents and carriers to work together to provide the best possible service to each other and their common customer at every turn. While most carriers offer policy Download to their agents, good quality Download represents a great opportunity for a leg up on being ‘carrier of choice’ for agents. Does your company offer as many lines of business the AMS vendors support? Are you helping agents streamline accounting workflows with Direct Bill Commission Statement Download? Is your company providing paperless, electronic policy delivery with eDocs and Messages? Are your agents’ claims departments also getting the benefits of Claims Download? Agents who expect to thrive in this ever-changing world are looking to their carriers to offer digital solutions at every opportunity.