I like to stay on top of what insurance businesses need from their Agency Management System (AMS), what they are getting now, and what they would like to improve. The best way to do this is to get in front of a group of agency owners and hear from them directly. This is why I participated in the Insurance Agents of Arkansas (IIAA) Agency Management Showcase during their annual convention. I was part of a panel with five other AMS providers that presented to over 150 insurance industry professionals.
Each panelist presented their own solution for seven minutes, followed by a brief question and answer session with the audience. During the audience Q & A, four themes emerged, three of which have to do with the integration and interoperability of systems, which were key topics during the “Independent Agents and Digital Transformation Summit” we hosted with Agency Nation and Trusted Source, and which Reid summarized in his last blog. The four themes were:
- Open API
- Ease of Use
Now, let me go into why each of these is becoming important in the insurance world.
Agency Management Systems Must Support Multiple Integrations with 3rd Party Products
Agency owners, producers and CSRs are frustrated with the insurance industry status quo when it comes to software and technology solutions. For years, the norm has been multiple systems to manage their business and do their jobs. Agency owners are tired of logging into a CRM to gather contact information and then entering it into their AMS. Producers waste time every day accessing policy information and downloads from a carrier portal and then importing them into their AMS. CSRs are limited by disconnected communication tools that don’t automatically log customer calls and emails. They are all looking for a unified, connected platform that empowers them to efficiently do their jobs while providing the best customer service. They need the ability to integrate with all kinds of third-party applications: phone systems, accounting systems, raters, carrier downloads, marketing automation, referral programs and more to create a single, unified system.
Some of us in the AMS industry are listening to them and delivering integrated platforms where their customer data and policy information are all housed in one system. Customer contact data, policies, phone, email and more can all be integrated to create a streamlined platform. This is one of the reasons we built TechCanary AMS on the Salesforce platform with its large ecosystem of partners and open APIs for integration.
Agencies Need A Single Source of Truth for All their Data
Becoming a data-driven business is critical across industries, including the insurance industry. Agency owners, producers and CSRs need access to data to help them to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. If an agency owner can see that certain lines of business have a higher retention rate than others, they can focus more resources on writing more to improve the agency’s profitability. Showing CSRs which of their emails to clients are opened at the highest rate can help them become more effective at outreach. Other valuable data that insurance agencies can leverage include commissions, premiums by lines of business, premiums by carrier, renewal tracking, retention rates, customer behaviors, CSR and producer productivity, and accounting information – and this is just scratching the surface. Access to this data delivers insights into their insurance business, telling them what is working and what isn’t, leading to optimized operations. Since TechCanary is built on the Salesforce platform, our customers have access to CRM data from within their AMS.
Agency Management Systems Need an Open API
The demand for software solutions to feature an open application programming interface (API) is continuing to rise. What does an open API mean? Very simply, it means that developers and IT professionals can easily integrate the system to interoperate and share data with the systems of their choice. They are not stuck with those provided by the vendor. Many legacy AMS are closed systems and do not feature an open API, so if you need it to share data with or trigger workflow events in other systems, it can be very difficult if not impossible. An open API is important for interoperability, data exchange and automated workflows across systems.
An open API is critical for the data demands of insurance professionals. It allows them to house all their data on one platform, with data flowing from one system to another. The result will be one system that not only connects all the tools they need to run their business, but provides all the information they need to run their business. Data is the future of insurance, and agencies using systems without an open API will be left behind as new insurance technologies become available but are not able to leverage.
Agency Management Systems Need to be Easy to Use
Another item that emerged is that none of the presenters demoed their product except TechCanary. I think this affirms what I have always believed, that legacy AMS are too difficult and rigid to use. For an AMS to gain adoption and significantly impact productivity, it needs to be easy to use and accessible from anywhere on any platform; desktop, mobile, or tablet. Ease of use and accessibility has always been a driving force behind the design and development of Techcanary AMS.
The Insurance Agents of Arkansas Agency Management Showcase was a great event that created a powerful dialogue, especially once the audience was able to ask the questions of the panel. Many of the audience’s questions demonstrated their frustrations with their current solutions, their desire for more functionality and the need for a better option.