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Navigating technology: Opportunities for automation along the client journey

July 19, 2023

Prospecting new business and retaining existing clients is an artful balancing act. When faced with a hard market, you likely prioritize retention and growth from within your current book of personal lines and commercial lines clients. This focus requires client service through consistent communication, risk advice and accessibility that leads up to renewal.

Client service. These two words define an independent agency (IA). In a world where IAs are partnered with many of the same carriers and offer similar products, servicing clients presents moments when you have a distinct opportunity to differentiate your brand. But how? Here is a play-by-play approach that integrates technology into your day-to-day activities allowing you to scale with client demands and turn reactive-laden market conditions into proactive opportunities for growth.

Play #1: Welcome to the agency

Utilize automation tools, including CRM, marketing automation, texting platforms and integration with physical mail distributors to onboard new clients, streamline the process, gather relevant information, and ensure a smooth transition. This way, you can focus on building strong relationships with your clients from the outset.

When a client joins your agency, you may have a process and content that you have developed as a welcome kit. Consider using this opportunity to automate the distribution of your assets and messaging in the form of direct mail that contains educational materials and any branded marketing items that leave a lasting impression. Email and text—assuming you have a mechanism to confirm client opt in or opt out—are also perfect tools to communicate the introduction to your agencies, providing clients with additional access points and contact channels. Setting precedent as a tech-forward agency and demonstrating your availability and accessibility meets the expectations of your client.

Watch the webinar: Technology for Marketing & Sales

Play #2: Let’s dive into your policies

Leverage agency management software to keep track of your clients’ policies, endorsements, and claims. This will help you stay organized and provide quick access to policy information, ensuring you can efficiently respond to client inquiries.

Agency management systems have historically been associated with activities tied to the policy and activities behind the scenes. We have witnessed functionality growth and even standalone client portals that enable service. Liberally use these capabilities and include ways to access documentation upon welcoming the agency. This sets an expectation for clients that a portion of the relationship requires their proactive participation. Over time, you may notice a decrease in the requests made directly through email and texting channels because you have provided digital access.

Watch the video: Building your tech foundation

Play #3: You should consider future proofing

Utilize software to assess your clients’ future risk exposure and recommend appropriate coverage. For example, residential and commercial properties in some coastal states are subject to catastrophic events involving hurricanes while certain southern and midwestern states experience droughts that affect farm and agribusiness crops. Propensity data related to weather and geography can help enrich your customer records and prompt you to get in front of events and provide prevention tips and techniques that lessen the impact of claims. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to helping clients protect their assets and minimize potential losses.

You have strong relationships with your carrier partners, and they likely provide content in addition to what you have developed to educate your clients on ways to avoid risk and reduce the probability for claims. Aggregating and segmenting this material and creating a cadence for distribution helps eliminate ad hoc interactions that interrupt the flow of business. In the same way that you communicate technologically for the welcome and policy education portions of the journey, you would use the same tools to communicate at least quarterly with helpful tips and tricks for conducting a risk-averse lifestyle.

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Learn more about risk prevention for personal lines

Play #4: What has changed this year

Implement client communication tools that facilitate regular check-ins, policy updates, and risk advice. By staying in touch with your clients, you can identify and address changes in their risk profiles, ensuring their coverage remains relevant and adequate.

Your agency management systems, CRMs, marketing automation tools and simple email reminders set you up for working on renewals. These tools capture and trigger your actions based on the stored x-date. Now it is time to understand the evolution of your clients. Getting this data was traditionally a very manual process that included outreach and waiting periods as well as unique techniques for capturing the data that varied by agency team member. Now you can use forms on your website and guide clients to the destination through automated renewal reminders. Forms have evolved so you can customize them to capture a wide variety of risk profile information depending on the type of coverage. With a catered way to collect data, you can allocate your time to begin the pricing and proposal process.

Watch the webinar: Technology for renewal

Play #5: Here are your new quotes

Leverage quoting software to generate multiple quotes from various carriers, enabling you to present clients with the most competitive options. This empowers clients to make informed decisions and demonstrates your commitment to finding the best coverage at the best price.

Whether you are a proponent of adding quoting technology to your website or reserving the technology for your agents only, you are likely familiar with the efficiencies gained by aggregating information from the client and feeding carrier quoting or third-party comparative quoting tools. In terms of serving the client, this portion of the process is mature and plays a pivotal role in leading you into the proposal and approval phase of the relationship.

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Play #6: Welcome to the New Year

Through client engagement tools that help you celebrate milestones, share industry news, and offer relevant tips and advice, you stay connected with your clients, foster loyalty and encourage referrals, driving organic growth for your agency. The cycle continues, and technology enables the process to gain efficiency.

You know how important it is to provide exceptional client service. But with so many activities to support your clients, your service team can quickly become inundated, leading to burnout and decreased productivity. With the right approach to service automation, you can take your independent insurance agency to the next level and provide an even better experience for your clients.

View the webinar: Technology for servicing customers


  • The information included in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, including subject matter experts, to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2023 Nationwide.