Four ways insurance agencies are managing through the pandemic.

While we all look forward to the end of the pandemic, the era of COVID has become the new Normal. No one is celebrating that grim fact, but smart commercial insurance agencies are finding ways to use this most unusual time to improve how they operate. Some even see this moment in history as an opportunity to step back and plot how to become better. While there is no shortage of ways an agency can adjust its focus to emerge stronger post-pandemic, we reached out to some of our users to learn how they are navigating through this current moment.

Four themes emerged. 

Update digital operations. 

If your offices are closed or your company is encouraging all agents to work remotely, it’s more vital than ever to have a technology infrastructure to keep the workflow moving. 

Digital solutions are clearly the answer, and this is a great time to review operations to see if your agency is providing best-in-class solutions. Is your Agency Management System delivering the ROI you expected? Is your team working as efficiently as possible? Are you making the insurance process easier for clients during these stressful times? 

Many agencies are seeing this time as an opportunity to tackle operational challenges head-on. 

”Once we realized COVID-19 was not a two-week event, we started working on our to-do list at the agency. That meant finding better technology solutions, and Broker Buddha was part of that. We want to become more efficient during this time, and become even more digital-enabled,” said Rob Bowen, owner of Patriotic Insurance Group. 

Use technology to differentiate. 

Getting clients to make the time to complete complex renewal applications has never has been easy. But during a pandemic, when heads are filled with a steady drumbeat of distressing news? Well,  it’s even more challenging. And, for reasons we don’t quite understand, people also seem to have lots of new priorities, like buying 800 rolls of toilet paper. 

Agencies that enhance their digital capabilities right now, or fully utilize what they already have in place, gain an opportunity to separate themselves from their competitors. Replacing complex paper documents with online smart forms or providing a renewal experience that is far simpler than it was before has never been more valuable. 

And it’s not just simplifying ACORD forms that can position an agency as more customer-centric than most. At Borden Perlman in New Jersey, Jeremy Perlman used Broker Buddha to launch a customized intake form for clients when COVID first took hold, and notes, “It’s a lot easier for customers, and it makes us as responsive as possible during these challenging times.”

Technology also presents an opportunity to grow the agency book. When your agency is truly digital, it’s easier to pursue business outside of your traditional market area or even move beyond the categories that have been your focus. New clients won’t care where you’re located if you have the tools in place to make the process seamless.

Refresh marketing messages and content. 

Whether you call it the New Normal or not, the world is operating differently right now. So it’s important to make sure your marketing efforts are in sync with the changes. 

Does your website content acknowledge the changes that COVID-19 has produced? Are you targeting clients and potential clients with solutions to help them deal with the challenges of running a business right now? Are you using social media as effectively as possible?

If your marketing is stuck in the pre-COVID era, you risk appearing tone-deaf and unconcerned about the realities of the current situation.

NEXO of California, for instance, has long specialized in providing coverage to fitness facilities, and few businesspeople have faced greater stress during the pandemic than gym owners. Eric Reingen of NEXO not only worked with his customer base to secure more flexible payment terms, the agency also made a pivot in their web content, and produced articles that addressed the specific operational challenges during closures and efforts to re-open. 

Not only is this information valuable to NEXO customers, it demonstrates a higher level of  engagement at the agency. It’s marketing for this moment, and shows that they are in sympatico with their clients. 

Use connectivity to build stronger relationships and establish new ones. 

Some might think that technology reduces the level of human connection. Not so, and this pandemic is proving it. Without face-to-face meetings, software that produces meaningful conversations takes on new importance. 

Agencies that are fully digital can be more responsive, communicate more clearly, and make previously daunting tasks like renewals far easier. 

As Chuck Holdren of Sage Underwriters once told us, “The insurance journey has rarely been pleasant.” 

An agency that can make the journey better, right now, is positioned for long-term success. When broker software can make a process faster—that’s connectivity—it frees up time to have valuable and meaningful conversations. Instead of emailing clients to remind them to complete forms, agents can call to discuss their options because the information was easy to provide. In the best of times, nobody likes a nag. Right now? Well, there’s even less patience for one. 

Technology is an ally, and agents can actually use this period as an opportunity to grow their book. If your competition is forced to sink hours into getting renewal forms completed—and you’re not—you have a true competitive advantage. Those hours can be used to network online and establish new relationships that turn into customers.

Action equals growth.

Let’s face it—nothing is especially easy during a pandemic. We have been forced to alter our routines in ways that we never imagined, and businesses of all sizes are being forced to rethink just about everything. Agencies that take steps to improve key elements of their operations, however, will emerge from this era stronger and ready for whatever comes next. 

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Published on:

Thursday, August 20, 2020