Author: Philip Charles-Pierre
Originally published on IA Magazine
“We don't have the time." This is a common statement from agency managers who are reluctant to adopt new technologies. And it's true. Agency staff often don't have time to learn new solutions as they work to meet customers' increasing demands. Yet, these tools can be the answer to their time constraints.
The reasons are clear. Technology helps agencies stay competitive on multiple fronts: customer service and retention, employee recruiting and job satisfaction, marketing, and differentiation.
Customers want information faster and technology solutions enable agents to meet this demand. The next generation of agents want to work for businesses that are utilizing tools to streamline and automate tasks. And with a saturated independent agency market, organizations need to find ways to separate themselves from the competition.
In convincing their teams, agency principals need to do more than tout time savings. Many agents have used solutions that claim to save time but they end up doing the opposite when they didn't fit into the agent's workflow and required workarounds and rekeying data.
Here are five ways principals can overcome tech-hesitancy and convince their teams to adopt new solutions:
1) The right solution. Thoroughly vet any tool before trying to incorporate it into your agency. Consider the audience. Is it designed for carriers or agents? If the solution doesn't focus on agents, it might require more workarounds to fit into current workflows.
Is the solution open to integrating with other platforms? If you can limit the number of screens your agents have to use and reduce data reentry, you can increase efficiency.
2) Show, don't tell. Many teams have an “if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Their current processes are working well and they don't want to change. Principals should be ready to not only talk about, but demonstrate how technology can improve processes.
For example, a platform can pull market appetite for a particular coverage area instead of requiring the agent to go to each carrier portal separately. Or, an email solution can automatically send renewal reminders to clients, completely removing a task from agents' to-do lists. Showcasing how the tool fits into workflows and delivers real time-savings can quell concerns.
3) Take small steps and prioritize. Develop a plan to decide which solutions to implement and when. As you decide what to prioritize, consider which solution can significantly help your team make their workflows more efficient while simultaneously continuing to deliver improved service to customers. Verify that the systems you are implementing will easily integrate with each other. Make sure everyone is comfortable and proficient on one tool before implementing the next one.
4) Empower agents to be technology influencers. Agents that are successful at technology adoption empower other agents within your agency to get on board with changes.
Listening to the teams' needs is important. If someone has a suggestion to improve operations, exploring that idea can be very effective in adoption. And it works both ways. If the agency incorporates a tool that doesn't seem to be working, it's critical to reevaluate quickly.
Identifying technology champions in the agency can work well. Champions are individuals who see the value of tech solutions and have been successful using them. They can help their team members adopt new technology and troubleshoot any roadblocks.
5) Harness vendor power. New technology often comes with a customer success team to help you utilize its full capabilities. Regular check-ins where agents share feedback with the vendor can be invaluable. These sessions will not only provide updates for the agency, but help the vendor decide which new features or integrations to add to the product.
Convincing busy agency teams to adopt new technologies can be easier said than done. Successful agency principals don't rely on vendors' sales messages—they demonstrate leadership, real value and time savings.