As the Director of Innovation at INSURICA, one of the largest privately held independent agencies in the nation, I am a leader on an incredible team that harnesses data to push our people and revenue forward.
We let the data tell us how we can drive efficiency and improve the client experience. We then use those insights to implement new tools and processes to help our employees be successful and our agency grow.
While I’m privileged to work at a large organization that can devote resources to an Innovation and data science team, your agency doesn’t need a dedicated team to make smart, data-informed decisions. Find someone on your staff to take the lead on data collection and analysis. It doesn’t need to be their full-time role as long as they understand data reporting and analytics or are willing to learn.
If you’re the data champion at your agency, here’s how you can start using data to drive revenue and efficiency.
Make sure your data is clean
When you start focusing on data, you might start off trusting that the data you have is accurate. However, in many cases, it may be questionable because it isn’t standardized, or it isn’t getting entered into your agency’s systems consistently. Humans and AI alike are not perfect after all. A saying I often go to is, “Trust but verify!”
If your data isn’t trustworthy, it’s a problem, because you can’t get good results out of bad data. it’s critical to understand the importance of data quality and put in place a process to make sure your data is clean before you really dig into it.
Start with the data you have
Start with the information your agency currently collects. Most agencies are sitting on a treasure trove of data from their agency management system that can tell them a lot about their book of business and a lot about what they’re good at.
Start by analyzing your book, even if it’s just understanding policy count per account manager. What are you writing? Breakdown revenues, markets, activities. You will be surprised how much your current data can help you have a better understanding. Answering those kinds of questions will help you get your feet wet, and you can go deeper from there.
For example, you may find that — like many middle market and small businesses — A lot of the revenue comes from a smaller percentage of your accounts. That means you have to find ways to be a lot more efficient with those customers who take up a lot of your time, but don’t generate as much revenue.
Understand your ideal client
Your agency is already collecting the data you need to understand who your ideal clientele is. For example, you might have a group of producers specializing in construction, but if you really dig into the types of leads that you have, you might realize that maybe you’re really good at converting a particular industry but subcategories within that industry don’t tend to convert. For example you might discover you close more business with excavation contractors than roofers. Depending on your situation this type of knowledge could be really beneficial.
Every time we make an effort to get more out of our data at INSURICA, we get better results in terms of understanding our marketing and how to generate opportunities that are a great fit for us.
Allow your data to tell you where to focus your efforts.
Guide colleagues on where to spend their time
Your data can also help you determine the best use of your staff’s time.
Once you have a handle on your book breakdown and the ideal clients for your agency, you can dig into what each account manager is best at and set them up for success.
At INSURICA, this has been a game changer for us in the small commercial space. We look at the strengths of our colleagues and utilize them in the position that fits them best and gives the company the most efficiency out of their highest and best use.
The answers guide our colleagues on how to spend their time and it typically adds up to happier staff and higher growth for the agency.
Put tools in place to drive efficiency and champion people
It’s no secret there’s a workforce gap in the insurance industry. At INSURICA, we use data to develop automated processes to save people time. That means staff get to focus more time on the good stuff: helping people find the coverages and policies they need. Our colleagues are happier and they’re no longer overwhelmed by too many things on their desk.
Automation can be as simple as setting up email filters. Or it could be setting up an AI bot on your phone system to help guide new colleagues through a call, which is something we’ve done at INSURICA.
For example, if a customer calls and asks about a specific type of coverage through technology we can analyze the transcription and give pop-up cards on the colleague’s screen with a definition to help guide their response. By analyzing the call in real time, the AI helps set the new-to insurance staff up for success and ensure customers experience consistently high-quality service.
AI can also help seasoned colleagues quickly access the data and information they need. Say someone calls and says, “I have a billing question and my policy is with Liberty Mutual.” The AI can pop up a card on the screen showing the billing phone number and a link to the client portal that can be shared with the customer.
Any size agency can become more efficient by automating repetitive tasks. There are resources out there to help smaller agencies set up the tools that can help solve problems for their specific business needs.
Collecting, analyzing and using data to make informed business decisions is a never-ending journey. That’s an exciting opportunity! Harnessing the power of data is one of the best ways we can collectively push our people and revenue forward to meet evolving market conditions and consumer expectations.
This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.