Ten Things That Drive Your Agents Nuts
Little known fact: Agencyport was actually born in an insurance agency. Literally, our first offices were located inside an agency. As we were building our earliest software, we were able to lean over and ask Customer Service Reps (CSRs) what they thought of certain features or capabilities. We understood early on that even though we were selling to P&C carriers, in order to build good stuff for their agents, we needed to engage with and listen to those users a lot.
Though we`ve long since grown up and moved out of that agency, we`ve stayed close to our roots, regularly gleaning the good, the bad, and the ugly about independent P&C agents and their work with their carrier partners. What are agents happy with and frustrated by? What`s important to them and what`s not? What are some carriers doing right, and how are others missing the mark?
The answers to these questions range enormously, but there are a handful of issues that regularly float to the top of agents` gripe list.
1) Carrier uniqueness
All the underwriting questions, special endorsements and eligibility rules that make you different from your competition are actually really frustrating for your agents. Agents are looking for the right coverages and the best price. After that, all the things you do to make your company different from other carriers are actually driving them nuts. Simplify.
Not many people enjoy data entry, and those who do certainly don`t like to key the same data over and over. If an agent takes the time to key data into a comparative rater or agency management system, how can a carrier not then bridge that data into their system?
3) Managing a million user IDs and passwords
Password management is still a nagging issue. Carriers require agents to reset passwords on such a regular basis that agencies dedicate entire binders to all the user ids and passwords. Some carriers take it further and ask agents to have unique IDs to access billing, claims and other systems. Carriers should consider joining industry efforts for password management such as ID Federation.
4) Typing a ton of data, only to be rejected
Eligibility is a vital element to the quoting process. Agents need to understand your risk appetite, and the quoting process should clearly flag eligible and ineligible business. The last thing an agent or customer service representative wants to do is to enter in an entire quote and ultimately be rejected. Carriers should place all eligibility rules up front for early notifications to agents.
5) Not knowing where to go next
Imagine this: You`ve remembered the password to the point of sale system; you`ve keyed in the data to get an indicative quote; the business is eligible; you`ve reserved the business; then “whoops” a limit needs to be updated. All you want to do is go back to page 2 and make the edit. Nope! You`re stuck in a vicious loop of errors and redirection. Your portal`s workflow needs to be crystal clear. Users should never have to wonder what to do next in order to move forward with their tasks. Next and Submit buttons should be front and center. Work lists should plainly indicate the status of work and work owners. Pop-up help bubbles should be accessible if users get stumped. Not sure where users get hung up most often? Ask them.
6) Upload that doesn`t work
Bridging is great (see point 2), but only when it works. Unfortunately, a lot of bridging doesn`t work, and it results in unnecessary work for agents. A plea from your agents: “Please have working bridging!”
7) Download that blows away agency management data
Download needs to be collaboration. If your download is wiping away all the data that an agency has tirelessly entered into their agency management system, it isn`t working. And it won`t be adopted by agents.
8) Unfair market reservation
Agents are sales people. They see an opportunity and they want to lock it down as their own before they waste unnecessary time. Market reservation has to be quick, fair and clear in order for an agent to be comfortable knowing that their time is well spent working on risks with you. As a carrier, you need to make their job of selling easier. A large part of that is a well-defined clearance process that assures your agents that the business is theirs. Help them sell; it`s as simple as that.
9) Slow response time
Agents don`t expect much in the way of response time. When emailing ACORD applications, if they hear back from a carrier within a week, it`s impressive. Chasing carriers is an all too common practice, with some agencies assigning people to simply follow up on all the open items required to place a piece of business. Carriers who respond to their agents first are winning more business than their competition.
10) Not being able to get a quote/bind online
Certain business segments should be available for straight through processing. Small commercial offerings like workers` comp, and specialty lines like Directors & Officers among them. Agents expect the ability to quote and bind in real time. If your workflow requires this uncomplicated business to be referred, you`re muddling the process for your agents.
In the end, offering your agents a simple, intuitive experience comes by putting yourself in their shoes. Competition is tight. User expectations are skyrocketing. Carriers need to give agents what they want or risk losing their business.
For more agent insight, visit: www.powertotheagents.com
Jenn Parker joined Agencyport in 2007 and has served key roles in the company. She currently works in the sales organization focused on the ongoing agent insight initiative. Parker graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She worked for Liberty Mutual for four years before joining Agencyport.