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Navigating technology: Using data to empower the independent agency

December 12, 2022

In the age of technology, data is a term that delivers mixed emotions. Without organization, data becomes just another puzzle piece in the disconnected picture of marketing, sales and operations. Unlocked and understood with the help of technology, data can unify the organization and drive insights that predict and prescribe actions among your teams and their interactions with customers. With a preference for achieving the latter, agencies have an opportunity to build a successful business strategy by prioritizing data. Knowing what to prioritize is where we will spend our time.

Consider the following key questions that define why and how you want to use data to empower your agency. Simply use the responses as guidelines to ensure that data influences your decision making when selecting technology solutions and creating efficient and predictable processes.

What is the grand plan that you expect to achieve with data?

Your short answer is likely to be identifying and repeating efficiency. As an agency that depends on customers, sales, operations and a sound financial model for growth and longevity, let’s drill into each category and discover what’s possible.

How can I use behavior data to predict the action and decisions of my customer?

Documenting your customers’ intent—including historical actions logged in your management system during the policy lifecycle and volume of clicks and calls in response to your service team communications—allows you to predict when and how to respond in the future and with a growing book of like-minded customers.

Ticketing and project management tools will help you visualize the exchanges you have with customers and the activities that occur behind the scenes. Do you want to save time and eliminate busy work? Data is a great way to break down all the “stuff” your agency produces to retain the book of business. By simply sorting information on inbound phone calls and the resulting requests can help you prioritize what you want to send to a chat tool or client portal in the future, offsetting manual tasks with automated tasks.

Which producer activities result in sales conversions?

Following the volume and frequency of outreach conducted by producers to prospects as well as the outcomes by medium (i.e., email, call, online advertisement, social media post, etc.) in a sales enablement or customer relationship management (CRM) solution allows you to prescribe future sales activities by producer and prospect type that have a higher probability of conversion.

While you should never eliminate the human from the sales process, you should consider using data to tell you as much as possible about every opportunity. Knowing how your team operates with prospect segments based on sales activities and conversion data can help you automate rules for lead assignments. In addition, third-party information like weather and other personal and commercial lines risk factors, which are specific to a geographic area, can be ingested by data enrichment and CRM technology and paired with prospect and customer records to suggest which coverages are necessary.

How can I enhance my operations using data?

Measuring the efficiency and customer satisfaction of step-by-step, internal- and external-facing processes driven by a combination of human resources and technology will uncover automation opportunities during the onboarding, product education, claims and renewal phases of the journey.

Much of the agency’s business requires data exchange between tools. Websites sending data to rating tools that send data to management systems that send data to marketing automation solutions. The string of handoffs is real, and getting it right is key to a seamless experience for your agents and their customers. The good news is that there has been growth in technology partnerships that allow you to integrate multiple solutions through API and web calls, or virtual handshakes between two unrelated platforms. Because we have a semblance of unity as a growing trend, we can assess how prospects become customers and which interactions provide the most value leading up to renewal. This wealth of insight means that you can depend on systems to make the connection, allowing you to realign your energies towards building on what works.

How should I consider and assess financial data in the era of human + tech?

Achieving the ideal balance between the lifetime value of a customer and the cost to acquire that customer that customer (LTV:CAC) reigns supreme. By pairing the LTV:CAC ratio with data that can be influenced to make customer, sales and operations more efficient, you have the opportunity to scale the agency using prediction and prescription.

You build a business plan, including 3-to-5-year financial projections that apply attention on how to get more out of the same or less. The kneejerk reaction in the moment of growth and success is to add expense around what works so you can continue to scale up. With technology, connectivity and supporting data that hints at your next logical move, you can begin to trust the individual roles and impact of automation and human resources and prescribe where you will push or pull levers without negatively influencing cost or creating unnecessary work.

You have implemented technology in your agency. Solutions that help you manage the entire lifecycle of the customer are capturing data throughout the process. Now is the time to consider how you want to use that data to empower a predictive and prescriptive business and drive an objective and measured approach to growing and retaining your portfolio of customers.

Read more of our navigating technology series

Part 1: How to simplify technology decisions by asking four fundamental questions about your agency

Part 2: Controlling the conversation with providers

Part 3: How to measure agency technology

Part 4: Sales innovation that increases efficiency

Part 5: Quoting innovations that assist agency growth

Part 6: Agency management system capabilities for growth and retention

Part 7: Customer service tools for a reliable and rewarding experience

Part 8: Renewal capabilities that enable automated checks and balances


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