Author: Zack Yurch
It's time to shift the narrative. Most agents know they need technology and are actively using it. Now the discussion should evolve to implementing the right solutions. There are hundreds of solutions vendors in the market—but not all are going to be a good fit for every agency.
For many agents, simplistic solutions seem like a natural fit. This is especially true for those without a chief information officer or head of technology. Solutions that are easy to understand and don't take much time to learn may look the best, but these solutions often only address a single issue and don't adapt to market changes. The result: Agents develop workarounds or purchase more tools that lead to rekeying data, multiplying the number of screens an agent uses and inefficient workflows.
To solve their workflow challenges, agents need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. An impactful solution might be more complex and take more time to learn. But it can grow with the agency, connect to other tools the agent is using and create a more cohesive and time-saving workflow.
Here are three ways agents can make sure they are selecting tools that will help them solve their main challenges:
1) Develop a formal evaluation process. Think about your agency's strategy and what challenges you want to solve. Consider the direction you want to take the agency. You might be looking to grow commercial lines, which would mean you shouldn't select an agency management system (AMS) with a strong personal lines focus.
You can work from a checklist of key capabilities every solution needs. This can be things like: Does it integrate with your AMS or have a path for integration? Does it eliminate duplicate entry? Does the tool make your workflow faster and more efficient? Does it fit into your existing workflow or require workarounds?
2) Know the solution's roadmap. The industry is evolving and solutions need to keep up. So, will a solution be able to grow with your agency?
Make sure the vendor can articulate where the tool is going. Is the rater you're considering eventually going to assist with determining market appetite? Even if the solution doesn't have that capability today, a growth plan can help the agency advance its business.
3) Meet the customer success team. The best solution providers want agents to use the product. They should not only have a customer service team fixing bugs in the platform but people to train and help get your agency comfortable on the platform. They should teach you how to use it, introduce the capabilities and show you how to get the most benefits. This should be an ongoing resource you can turn to for questions, refreshers and updates on new features.
Not all solutions are created equal. Just because something seems simple and easy to learn doesn't mean it will provide value to your agency. To grow, agents should be looking for tools that save them time, evolve and are dedicated to their success.
This article originally appeared in Independent Agent Magazine.