Streamline & Grow Your Agency With Automation

Live Webinar Roundtable

Save time & delight customers

Today’s insurance agencies must operate at a larger scale than ever before to thrive in the modern insurance landscape. Previous tactics to build 1:1 relationships simply take too much time to be practical today. The answer is simple: automation. 

Automation is helping today’s most successful agencies build relationships at scale and stay ahead of the competition by:

  • Saving their team countless hours
  • Increasing policies sold
  • Delivering a great experience for customers

Jamie Trovato, Founder of Trovato Associates

This independent agency owner has been using automation to modernize his agency and deliver a customer experience that creates trust and loyalty while saving time.

Nick Andrews, Channel Partner Marketing Manager at Liberty Mutual

After years of working one-on-one with independent agencies to implement winning marketing strategies, Nick Andrews has seen the impact automation can have on customer satisfaction and policies sold.

Carrie Reynolds, Owner of Alan Galvez Insurance

This second generation agency owner and marketer realized recently how powerful automation can be, and has seen success using Agency Revolution’s intelligent automated marketing tools for her agency.

Matt Brauer, Director of Strategic Accounts at Hawksoft

Passionate about technology, this former agent has worked closely with countless agencies to enhance and streamline operations, and knows first hand how powerful a well integrated automation system can be.

Intelligent Automation

Our automation platform Fuse™ integrates with your management system to deliver the most powerful automation experience possible for today’s independent insurance agencies. Book a demo today and find out how Fuse™ can save your staff time, give your customers a great experience, and sell more policies!

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Transcript

Joel: Hey everybody, thanks for joining us here today and we have an exciting conversation about automation. The reality is if you’re not planning– I threw this out on LinkedIn. If you’re not planning for 2020, you should be, and I think a lot of agencies are out there certainly considering or all are already automating. We have a great panel today to have this discussion so let’s do the introduction. We’ll go, ladies first here. We have Carrie Reynolds who’s the owner of Alan Galvez Insurance. Carrie, thanks for joining us.

Carrie: Thank you. What would you like me to say?

Joel: Just say hi.

Carrie: Hi.

Joel: It’s so perfect. Then we have a Nick Andrews who’s a channel partner, marketing manager at Liberty Mutual. Nick, thanks for joining us.

Nick: Hey Joel, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Joel: Thank you. Jamie Trovato, who is the founder of Trovato Associates. Jamie, thanks for hopping on.

Jamie: Hi everybody.

Joel: Then we got Matt Brauer who is the director of strategic accounts over at HawkSoft. Matt, thanks for carving out time. Do appreciate it.

Matt: My pleasure.

Joel: Awesome. Let’s get right down to it. Let’s have a conversation about automation. I’m going to make an assumption that there’s probably a lot of people on here that think they know about automation or maybe using it currently, but let’s take it down a notch. What is automation at an agency level and why should agents even care? Do we really want to automate our agency? With that question, Nick, why don’t you kick us off?

Nick: Yes, thanks, Joel. In my mind, what is automation at an agency level? It’s really about using technology to enhance human connection. Not replace it. It’s building on those human relationships. It’s using the technology to take relationships deeper to the next level. We’re not trying to replace anybody, we’re just trying to enhance and augment those relationships we’re having. We have all this fantastic technology out there, so let’s use it to build on those human relationships.

Joel: Absolutely. Carrie, what say you?

Carrie: I agree with Nick. For us in particular, the automation is simply used to enhance the at least create and build on the customer experience as well as help with our sales process. I think that’s pretty important stuff.

Joel: Very cool. Jamie?

Jamie: I think automation is– it needs to be centered around anything that is repetitive. The key to it is using it in a way where you see processes in your office that are being done over and over and over again. If you can find a way to use automation to strategically play into those processes, it’s a game-changer inside your agency.

Joel: Nice. Matt?

Matt As Nick mentioned, it’s not designed to replace an employee, but automation really it’s the employee that never takes a day off, who works holidays and available 24/7. It’s the one that just makes it so easier one lesson you’d have to think about in the day of all the things you have to do.

Joel: Absolutely. I love all those responses and couldn’t agree more. There’s one that came in my head and throw everybody out here kind of an open-ended question. I think as I have conversations with independent insurance agencies all day every day, as does our entire team here at agency revolution. There seems to be sometimes a thought or a fear that automation means robotic, un-personalized. I know, Nick, you certainly hit on that about that it builds on relationships. Does automation have to be this un-personal approach to running or automating things within your agency? Nick, I’ll let you respond to that first and we’ll go around.

Nick: Definitely. I think the most important thing when sending marketing messages is relevance. Sending the right message to the right person at the right time and really automation and technology can help make things more personal because it’s customized to you. I think that’s really where maybe some people are missing it, but really using that technology to create a very customized message for one particular client. I think that’s a really strong aspect of automation.

Joel: Jamie, anything to add there?

Jamie: Yes, well, here’s what I would say. You know, what’s not personable is not following up with people at renewals or after the sale or after a claim. Automation will do all that for you. If anyone ever tries to use, “It’s not personal,” they’re just completely missing the boat completely. That’s where good automation feels real to people. I know this for a fact because one of the things I did is I did testimonials with my client. I had about five or six people come into my office, sit down and do a testimonial. I have proof of this, the number one things that they said that they like most about my agency was coming from all my automation.

Joel: Interesting.

Jamie: They didn’t know it’s automatic. [crosstalk].

Joel: Very cool. Not knowing that it’s automatic. Matt?

Matt: To mimic Nick, timing and relevancy is key importance, but also the content. As long as the content is also relevant to the communication, it’s key.

Joel: For sure. Carrie?

Carrie: When it comes to being personable, I make it a point to really make the different e-mail campaigns I have in place extremely personal. We’re a small agency we’re family-owned, we treat customers like family. We even have an office cat. In my onboarding as an example, I make sure that people get the feel for the agency and the people and animals that are here through a series of e-mails that last about a year. We introduce. We give bios. There’s a picture of the cat come in and say “Hi.”, give her a scratch, bring her a treat. People seem to really respond to that because they start to know you even if they haven’t spent a lot of time with you.

That just continues to build. Heck, there’s even an e-mail that I released, it’s a birthday video. The video is me singing them a birthday song. I can’t tell you how many responses I’ve gotten from people saying, “That was really fun. Thank you for sending that to me.” That’s extremely personable and I think people start to understand your brand and your agency, you got to them in into who and what you are. Using the automation allows people to get inside and see better what you are and what you’re about.

Joel: Very cool explanation. Let me ask you to add on this, and Carrie, I’ll let you start off on this one you did such a great job explaining that. What new possibilities does automation open up? You nailed a few things there, but anything outside of maybe what you just shared first opportunities?

Carrie: Yes. I have a list off to the side and you’ll see me looking at it of all the campaigns I have running currently. The opportunities right now are creating customer experience through onboarding. That’s a year-long worth of a variety of different messages. Whether it’s claims, whether it’s team introduction. There’s a whole bunch of life insurance, there’s a ton of stuff. Not only creating customer experience, but you also have the opportunity for sales. The account rounding, the cross-selling, home new auto, auto new home, new umbrella, new life policies.

You’ve got a tremendous opportunity for sales as well. You also have a way just to create customer communication because I have a monthly newsletter that I send out. We have that as an option. We have holiday messages that are being sent. That’s again, just encouraging customer communications. I’ve got new prospects. When new prospects come into the pipeline we’re able to send out e-mails to them to hopefully, “Let’s get you set up and let’s get you going.” I’m hoping to release a lost customer campaign here soon to harness those opportunities.

The people that left in the past but sure, we would like to welcome you back in the future. In my opinion, the opportunities are really endless. Whether it’s sales, whether it’s marketing, it’s unbelievable or claim followup or renewal. It’s incredible what you can do.

Joel: For sure. Matt, from a management system point of view, any opportunities that you see that agents that opens up for agencies that want to leverage automation?

Matt: Actually everything Carrie mentioned is exactly what we advise our clients to start to use and do. One of the things some agencies don’t think about doing is tracking what quotes they didn’t sell and why, and then designing the campaign around of that because maybe they didn’t sell it because they couldn’t beat the price that year. Maybe it was just because the underwriting didn’t fit. Designing campaigns around things you didn’t sell to automate that as well, I think is another great opportunity.

Joel: Sure. Jamie?

Jamie: I think what a lot of agents that are thinking about automation should think about this and Carrie, you nailed it. This is technology in a system that’ll go out into your data. It’ll start to mine the data for you and it’ll drive people into the agency. The days of marketing insurance are changing. The days of hiring a producer to me are over with. The days of hiring salespeople are over with. The way I look at it now with the way that automation is working in our agency is we’re hiring placers, processors because the system is like Matt said earlier, it’s never taking a day off, it’s never complaining, it’s never getting its feelings hurt, it’s working 24/7, it knows when to reach out, it knows who to touch, when to touch, talk to about what, and it’s driving them back into the agency. Which is unbelievable to me. The ROI, the return on your investment, man, it’s just unbelievable. It’s just so hard to describe to people.

The phones are ringing off the hook. People are calling, they’re asking about policies and nobody’s out there prospecting. The machine is doing it for you.

Joel: Very cool. Nick?

Nick: From an agency management perspective, one thing that I think is really cool from just blocking and tackling would be the customer self-service portal. A lot of the AMSs have that feature. Just putting that on the agency’s website will alleviate a lot of customer service calls. I think using automation technology to delight your customers, providing them instant 24/7 customer service is really awesome. I love how some other agency management systems like Vertafore now has the ability to do text messaging. I know other ones have it, too.

It’s really about communicating and doing business with your customers the way they want to be conducting business. Using things like text message is really huge. A lot of this technology already exist and you just need to turn it on in your agency management system.

Joel: Very cool. I think we talked a lot about opportunities there, that was the question. Heard everything from cross-sell to lost customers to prospects. I’m going to start this question with Jamie only because Jamie and I have had this conversation numerous times. How can automation save the agency time? You led right out with that, Jamie. I’m curious to know. Explain a little bit more how you truly believe that automation can save you a ton of time.

Jamie: Let’s take an average-sized agency. For everyone that’s listening out there, what’s your number one pain in the rear process? To me, it’s your cancel-non-pay process. Typically, an agency will have an individual assigned to tracking down, following up, chasing non-pay customers. The list could be however long every day, week, month. I want you to think about that process and how much time and money you invest into that non-income-generating process. Yes, those customers are probably not the customers you want anyways to begin with, but think about how much time and money you’re putting into it.

Well, what if we said that there’s a way that you could automate that process? That person, that individual is free to do other things in your agency now. They can do other things. They can do income-generating things. One of the things that we incorporated and integrated into our system is the minute the switch flips and the policy goes into a cancel-non-pay status, they’re getting a text message and an e-mail that’s telling them, “Your account’s past due.” The e-mail and the text message are both SEO mobile-friendly where they click at it, it brings them into a portal where they can select their carrier or even download the mobile app to be able to pay their bill.

They don’t need to call their office, they can do it right from their smartphone or right from their computer. We’re training our customer. We’re training them to be self-sufficient. I know there’s people out there, they’re probably going to say this. They’re going to say, “Well, what does the customer pay us for?” The customer will come back and say that to you. I’ll tell you this. What I instruct my staff to tell my customers is they’re not there to take their payments, they’re there to advise about coverages. They’re there to be an insurance advisor, not a hand-holder.

When you have a significant people taking that time away from your staff, it’s detrimental to the other customers. Think about how you’re impacting those other customers just from that cancel-non-pay process. By reshifting or refocusing and rethinking about the whole process, you’re saving yourself time, saving your staff time, frustration. It’s a huge drain of resources not thinking about it in that light.

Joel: For sure. Absolutely. Matt, automation. How does it save agencies time from your point of view?

Matt: I’m actually a licensed agent myself. I can tell you the one part when I sold insurance that I felt was just a waste of my time was chasing people after I gave them a quote. “Hey, Mrs. Smith, I gave you the quote, did you talk to your husband?” Blah, blah, blah, blah. Having automation and being able to do an automated followup for you on those quotes, you don’t have to chase them, that’s a game-changer right there.

Joel: Very cool. Carrie?

Carrie: I agree with what’s already been said. Basically, if the automation is done correctly, it almost acts like another employee. If it acts in that fashion, and like Jamie said, your existing employees can go do those more important activities. Our memories are our worst enemy. Don’t ever try to rely on your memory. As people, that’s what we go to. Let’s not try to do that. Let’s use the automation for what it’s designed for and go and do those activities that maybe one of your staff doesn’t now have to do. Whether it’s the non-pays, or whether it’s the quote follow-ups, or whether it’s the renewals.

It doesn’t matter. It’s going to save somebody in your office time and then they can go do something else. I think that’s where it is definitely most valuable.

Joel: Absolutely. Who did I forget on that one? Sorry, Nick. Don’t want to [crosstalk]

Nick: I’m very forgettable, Joel. Come on.

Joel: No, I was like, “Did I already ask Nick or not?”

Nick: When I think of time-saving, one of the most exciting automation technologies that comes to my mind is the automated chatbot. Joel, you’re in Canada so I’ll take this example north of the border. Our friend, Jeff Roy at Excalibur Insurance, he has a fantastic automated chatbot on his website. I don’t want to call them low-level customer service inquiries but those inquiries that are right for automation. Things like how do I get an ID card, all those very basic things that you don’t want your people wasting their time on, the chatbot should be handling these.

That technology exists and you can really scale up by eliminating that grunt work from your CSRs. Then, like everyone else has been saying, they can focus on higher-level things, maybe building deeper relationships in the community, et cetera.

Joel: Sure. Absolutely. I probably should’ve led off this entire webinar with this. Obviously, if you have a question feel free to type those in and ask them. We have a question here. It looks like it’s directed more directly at Jamie. Jamie, someone’s intrigued about your non-pay process. Shocker. They’re curious to know what systems do you use, Jamie, to alert customers about those pending non-pay policies? I’ll let you answer that.

Jamie: When the policy download comes into the management system, it’ll flip the policy status to a cancel-non-pay status. Whether it’s a download or it’s manual within the office, if the staff were to manually see that it’s in a non-pay status when they’re checking those carriers, they just flip the switch on in the policy management system. The automation behind it is picking that up and is sending out the text message, it’s sending out the e-mail. It’s doing the alerting for the staff member and then the customer is getting that. We have it set up in a way where if it doesn’t flip back in five days, they’re going to get a second request.

The message is going to say, “This is your second request.” It’s politely nudging them along to complete that process. I love it because I get text messages from customers all the time and they’re random text messages, like, “I already paid that bill on Saturday.” I know it’s the automation working. They might’ve got that second message. I love it. It’s saving us a huge amount of time. I try to do that for every single process in my office. Joel, if you don’t mind, you want to talk about a time saver, I want you to think about your pre-renewal and your post-renewal process.

That seems to be people’s biggest challenge because those are time-consuming. We have a campaign that sends out a text message and an e-mail 45 days prior to renewal. The text message to me is the best one because it’s an SEO tailored URL. It’s in your text message. When it shows up on your mobile device, there’s a picture that says, “Your renewals coming. I just want to ask you a few questions to prepare for your renewal.” They click on that link and it brings them into a mobile-friendly webpage, where there’s a survey or a questionnaire that’s relevant to the policy that’s renewing.

It’s asking them all the relevant questions. Then when they hit submit, it brings them to a page where it actually asked them if they want to schedule an opportunity to either speak on the phone or meet in person. If they select yes, it brings them to a calendar. The calendar then links to my calendar. If I’m not available at that specific time, they can’t schedule. They can only schedule when I’m available. I want you to think about the back and forth that people usually go through. Well, I’m available on this day. Well, I’m not available. Well, how about this day? How about that day.

You don’t have to talk to the person and they’re scheduling and next thing you know, with all this automation, people are just showing up at your office. I’m here for my appointment. There’s a little revolving door. The first time I integrated this into my processes, the first people that walked through my door was a couple in their 70s.

Joel: There you go. That’s actually one of the questions Jamie. That’s interesting.

Jamie: I couldn’t believe it. My jaw hit the floor. They went on, they got qualification, they wanted to meet, they wanted to review. It turned out the husband was sick, the wife wanted to make sure that she knew what was going on, and that’s how they scheduled their appointment from the renewal automation. They went in, they scheduled the appointment they got on my calendar, they showed up in my office.

Joel: Awesome. Let me ask you this Jamie, just real quick. A couple of questions to peg on. We’ll go with quick answers here. Jamie, ready for quick answers.

Jamie: What?

Joel: What management system do you use?

Jamie: HawkSoft.

Joel: What is the automation system you use?

Jamie: Agency Revolution.

Joel: I know there’s another service or two that you use there for those links and those pages. What are those?

Jamie: I like to keep that one close to my vest.

Joel: Perfect.

Jamie: I’d be more than happy to share with anyone who reached out to me individually.

Joel: Awesome, perfect. We’ll do that. That question originally started obviously directed at Jamie. Jamie just answered one part of it and someone brought up the question. I believe Gideon asked the question that they have a lot of older clientele within their book of business. Let me frame the question like this. Does the age demographic of your clientele impact your ability to use automation? I will direct that at Carrie. If Carrie, you need a little bit of time let me know. What are your thoughts on that?

Carrie: Well, let me say it by saying this, I talked about that birthday video of me singing a birthday song. Most of the responses I’ve gotten from people, they have been older people. It hasn’t been a lot of the younger people that have commented on that. I don’t think age is any barrier whatsoever. If it is a platform somebody feels comfortable with and it’s convenient, then they’re going to use it. I don’t think age really has any bearing on it whatsoever.

Joel: Awesome, Matt.

Matt: I agree with Carrie. If they’re comfortable and convenient. That’s the biggest key.

Joel: For sure, Nick.

Nick: Joel, Liberty Mutual, we recently rolled out two new newsletter tools which allow agents to build and deploy newsletter, both e-mail and physical in the mail. Let me tell you, we believe very strongly in physical newsletters and sending the physical document in the mail, whether it’s just your monthly agency newsletter or an agency welcome kit. To get those things almost automated is very exciting for us because we know folks of all demographic ages love to either open the e-mail or open the physical postcard. We’re going to hit them in one of those two locations. No, age doesn’t matter.

Joel: Jamie, I’ll ask it of you. I know you just hit on it that you were blown away, but age matters?

Jamie: Here’s the deal when they’re having birthdays. I just want to point this out. It’ll be your highest opening campaign because it’s so personal to people. If you’re not saying, “Happy birthday.” to your clients, it’s a huge mistake.

Carrie: If you’re not singing it’s a huge mistake.

Joel: I like it, Carrie. I like it.

Jamie: Though sometimes you’re the only person that wished that person a happy birthday.

Carrie: I’ve heard that too.

Jamie: Yes, it’s touching. From a retention standpoint, it’s a must. You have 5,000 clients, you can’t wish everyone happy birthday you need automation.

Joel: Let me add this part in here for what it’s worth to Gideon or who asked the question about age. Personal experience, my grandmother 80-plus years old, recently was frustrated with her insurance provider because they wouldn’t e-mail her policies. I think when we get to age demographic, I think that we’re in a world that once everybody has a computer, a tablet, or a phone that is capable of receiving all these things. Don’t assume because someone is of an older demographic that they’re not open to using technology. In fact, may well like it.

We have some questions here. Another great question here from the panel. Let me ask you this, a lot of this conversation and I would agree, sounds a little personalinezy. I think I just created a word there, personalinezy. How do you guys feel about automation in the commercial lines world? Is it applicable to commercial lines? Matt, I’ll let you start.

Matt: Definitely, in commercial lines, there’s all kinds of different avenues that you can use the automation to do this. Again, renewals are coming up, you need to communicate with the clients on the renewals, birthdays, all the very same things you would do on personal lines, you can do commercial lines. Then account rounding as well. When you see that a client only has a certain line of business with you, and you know, that they might need more comp. Again, it’s account rounding, it’s all the same, in my opinion, avenues that you can communicate with your clients, whether personal or commercial, life insurance, health insurance, it goes across the whole gamut.

Joel: For sure. Carrie?

Carrie: Absolutely. All businesses are owned by people, right? Although the message may say something slightly different. Instead of home, maybe we’re talking about GL or commercial auto or VOP or whatever, you’re still talking to people. I still think it’s very appropriate and important to still use that personalization even in the commercialized space.

Joel: Sure. Nick?

Nick: Yes, just talk on just from a lead generation perspective when I think of our good friend Stan Dreckmann out in California, as Huggins Dreckmann Insurance. If you go to his website and you’re looking for a certain type of business lines insurance and you fill out the request-a-quote form, you’re going to get an automated e-mail series back, lead nurturing through automation. From a lead generation perspective, personal, commercial, it doesn’t matter. It certainly works on both equally well.

Joel: Got it. Jamie, commercial, personal lines?

Jamie: Absolutely. You’ve got to use it for everything. Commercial lines, it’s really important, I think because you have to speak to them on renewals. That messaging that goes out prior to the renewal is prompting them to schedule and reach out to the office. Absolutely, yes.

Joel: Let me ask you this, because I think there’s two questions that I want to line up next. I’m going to ask this one first, because I think it’s the sexiest thing in the world. People want to talk about is new sales. Then the reality of it, what pays our bills is retention. Let me ask the new sales question. Can automation help boost new sales? I know we’ve answered this already. I know Nick, Jamie, Carrie, Matt, everybody’s touched on it. Maybe in your opinion, how can automation improve new sales? Nick will start with you. I think you muted.

Nick: Sorry about that. Just to build on my last point of lead nurturing. If a lead comes in on the website, automation can nurture that lead, get them to get on the phone, send more quotes, just kind of helping that sales funnel process flow nicely. Yes, absolutely.

Joel: Matt?

Matt: Yes, definitely. In your management system, if you have the ability to use a lead sales funnel, taking them from a lead that maybe isn’t unqualified to a qualified lead, to a prospect, and then different caveats within that prospect. It’s a different message in each bucket. An unqualified lead is just trying to learn about your agency and get comfortable to even share their information with you versus somebody that maybe they’re in discovery phase where you’ve already got their information, you’re just trying to follow up to get the rest of what you need. There’s no doubt that automation could help you through your sales process.

Joel: Sure. Jamie?

Jamie: I already have a good story about this. Matt, I know you like my stories.

Matt: Of course.

Jamie: I created a webpage where if I’m running this summer, I meet someone that’s new or I run into an old friend, I have these different webpages built where all I have to do is put in their name, their e-mail and their phone number and it’ll send them out automatic e-mail a day later just saying, “Hey, nice to meet you. This is my contact info.” If they specifically asked me for a quote, it’ll send out a text message in an e-mail with a link to a page that tells them exactly how they need to send their documents to me and get them into my system.

I was at a wedding and I ran into an old family friend, hadn’t seen him a long time. “Steve, I want to send you everything,” blah, blah, blah, blah. I put them in the system. I just put him in the web page, hit submit and I forgot about it. I think a couple of two, three months went by and I see him out on my production reports. What happened was he got the automation after messaging, he sent the documents, he was waiting for his renewal. The individuals in my office took the incoming information when he sent it in, they nurtured it, they processed it and it showed up on my production report. What did I do? I didn’t do anything.

I took the time to put the automation in place, but that’s the power of it. How many people can you drop into this funnel? How many people can you drop into your automation? How much data do you have? How much can you build around this data that you have? That’s what drives your sales?

Joel: Absolutely. Carrie?

Carie: On the new sales piece, the way I have it set up, is for our new prospects, we get admitted into the management system. Then over a series of about 10 days, they get some e-mails. If we haven’t sold the account, then they get some e-mails, trying to keep us top of mind. Then if it doesn’t happen after 10 days, then about six months later, another e-mail goes out and it’s somewhat humorous, but it’s to keep us memorable. It’s basically, “We couldn’t help you this time, can we help you this time?” Then it goes over a couple more months from thereon.

See, the problem is that life happens at an agency and there’s some claim that you have to deal with, some tragedy, something that is going to happen. Even though it might be on your task to-do list, you’re going to forget to make that call. However, the automation is never going to forget. When they get that e-mail six months later, they’re like, “We couldn’t make it happen. Maybe we can make it happen now.” Then they respond. We get the process going again and off it goes. It’s just invaluable from that standpoint. It isn’t going to let you down.

That is just a great way to keep those new sales happening whether they’re at that point, six months, later, 12 months later. I’ve had policy sold two years after the fact. Who cares? I’m fine with that. It’s still on the books. It’s a great thing for new sales, most definitely.

Joel: Carrie, to your point in and all of the audience here. I talk to independent insurance agencies all day every day and it’s absolutely mind-boggling to me how many agencies spend a lot of money on acquisition. Acquiring a new client can often be very expensive and/or acquiring even a prospect. Just getting someone to raise their hand, whether they walk in the door, they pick up the phone or they type in online to request a quote from you, the reality is we don’t close 100% of those people. What happens for the next month, six months, two years, whatever the case is.

If you’re out there spending money on acquisition and that could be as simple as referrals, as pay per click, as whatever you’re doing and you have no way to automate nurturing conveyor belt or whatever you want to call it to help convert those prospects or suspects in down into your funnel into new customers, you need to reevaluate where you’re spending your money. It is amazing how many people out are spending boatloads of money to acquire names, prospects, get people to raise their hand but have no way to nurture them. To your point, Carrie, you get busy.

Someone’s got to take a change, somebody has a claim, somebody has something going on and it’s just not a priority. You let automation do the job. Let’s flip to the second half of that where we all know retention-wise. All of this factors into this, but maybe if we can spell it right down. Matt, how does automation help with retention?

Matt: The biggest is account rounding. Being able to identify the mono-line opportunities and find what those are and then give a relevant piece to the client on why they should combine today and save, which then obviously makes it a little more sticky policy. You have a higher retention rate there and in some cases, you even get a little bit higher a kicker in commission. The agency then even makes a little more money on it. There’s many aspects on that. Then the other key is when your name is always in front of them, your brand is in front of them. They’re thinking of you.

It’s going to help you with retention, but it’s also going to help you with referrals because you’re going to be top of mind when they talk to their friend and their friend’s not happy with the rate increase they just got.

Joel Sure. Jamie retention, how does automation help?

Jamie: It helps in the retention aspect because the frequent touchpoints. One of the ones that I like to look at is my claim process and how the automation is integrated into my claim process. When you’re touching them right at the point of claim and then following up with them after a claim, that’s impactful for the customers. That’s enhancing their claim experience. Just think about the simple glass claim. As soon we have a glass claim button, we have a claim button on our international system. When the CSR hits claim, they select the glass claim. There’s an automation sequence that goes out behind the glass claim. It’s telling them where to go, who to talk to, who’s going to reach out to them.

Then it’s giving them video content on why they need to go to the repair shop in the middle of the wintertime. It’s explaining everything so that they don’t need to come back to you asking more questions. Just following up, it’s asking them how their claim experience was. That’s the kind of stuff that impacts your attention over a long period of time.

Joel: For sure. Nick?

Nick: I think we already heard from Carrie how she sends out the birthday e-mails. Matt nailed it also digging into an agency management system and trying to upsell those mono-line policies and Jamie also nailed it with the claims process. I think those are three fantastic answers. I might also add, you can also potentially automate some of your social media process. Maybe you have one day a week where you knock out and schedule all of your social media posts. As long as the content you’re posting is personal and authentic about the community, you’re not selling in social, then I think that also has a chance to increase retention because it’s just another avenue to build a deeper relationship with your clients.

Joel: Agreed. Carrie?

Carrie: On the retention piece of it, what we’ll often find is when we’re are talking to new prospects, a lot of the times that they’ll come to us is simply because they feel like they haven’t been heard from the other agency. They feel like nobody cares, nobody even knows they exist. You take my money, but then I don’t hear from you. That seems to be common within the industry. When you have the automation in place with those clients, then they feel like they’re getting to know you better. They feel like you care about them. Of course, we do, but it just makes it even more impactful, if you will.

They feel like that you care, that you’re concerned about them, that you’re trying to give them good valuable information so they make good choices. When they have that feeling appeased, I think then it automatically has to help with your retention because they can’t really say that complaint anymore. They might say something else, but I don’t think they can say, “I don’t hear from you.” They can’t say that anymore. You’re getting valuable information. You’re getting newsletters full of helpful articles. You’re getting best wishes for holidays and holiday updates and here’s what’s going on in the office and please take advantage of this opportunity or whatever the case may be.

They’re hearing from you. That can only be good for retention in my opinion.

Joel: Absolutely. Here’s what I see here. Here we have Jamie and Carrie talking about their agencies and we got Nick and Matt hanging out with us. Using the agency examples here, what I hear is Carrie and Jamie, you’ve developed the customer experience.

Carrie: Working on it.

Joel: You’re working on it. It’s constantly working on it. I think it’s fair to say it’s probably very different from one agency to the other. I think your clients and prospects know what to expect. They know what they’re getting and you never let them down on that. They know when they’re going to hear from Carrie, they know when they’re going to hear from Jamie, they know what to do because the process and the experience is positive and they never get forgotten. I think that’s why people buy.

I think we get tied up in price all the time. I always say the price only matters to the person selling it. It’s the experience, it’s what value. I bet you, more people come to buy from Carrie not because they think they’re getting a quote, because they want that experience because they heard something positive. Same way people buy from Jamie’s agency because of the experience. Not because he might save them $20 on an auto policy.

Jamie: Joel, what I always tell agents is this. What you want to think about is when you’re selling a policy to someone and you’re having those conversations about coverages, think about everything that they need to do before, during, after the buying process. All the little nuances, the formal inspection, signing the applications. The conversation that we have with customers could be an hour, two hours long. It’s very easy for us as agents, and even producers and young producers and new people coming on to miscommunicate or miss a step in that sales process like forget to tell the customer, “You need to get your formal inspections done in seven days.”

Very easy to do. We’ve all done it, we’ve been doing this for a long time, we still miss a little thing. When you think about automation, once the switch flips from prospect to new active client, they’re getting these communications. It’s telling them step by step what they need to expect, what’s going to happen every step of the way. One of my other favorite ones is– How many people can relate to this? Where people buy a house, they get a mortgage, the mortgage gets sold. The policy comes up for renewal, nobody calls them, mortgage is sold, now the policy goes into cancel-non-pay status.

The client gets a letter saying it’s cancelled. Well, you told the client, “Hey, don’t worry. The bank’s going to pay for it every year.” Now you’ve got a shopper on your hands that mad. We actually have a process for new home policy, three months after the policy is written, we send an e-mail out that says, “Hey, your mortgage might’ve been sold. Please let us know.” That’s right around the time it happens. It’s, “Please let us know if your mortgage was sold.” I get e-mails from clients all the time, “Yes, my new mortgage is this.” Now that client is not going through that disruptive process.

I could’ve told them about that at the point of sale, I could’ve forgotten to tell them. Maybe they could forget about it a year later that we even had that conversation. The automation, it’s just seeping in every single way possible that you can think of.

Joel: Phenomenal example. Let me ask this question. We’ve talked about all these positive ways and things. Really, I think Carrie, you might’ve mentioned it, it’s unlimited. Jamie, you probably mentioned it. It’s unlimited how many things you can automate and make it personalized.

Jamie: It’s like the universe. It’s always expanding.

Joel: Is there anything that you think that shouldn’t be automated? Are we crossing the line at a certain point? I think I know Jamie’s answer on this so I’ll let you go last on this one. Maybe we’ll start with Nick. Nick, is there anything that maybe shouldn’t be automated?

Nick: Joel, I think there are actually a couple of tactics in the marketing quiver, a couple of marketing arrows, whatever.

Joel: I like the quiver. I like that. I know what you’re coming at.

Nick: We want to see our agency partners hand-sign thank-you cards. We want to see a wet signature on the welcome kit. Now, you could use automation there like you just use an image of the signature. Ideally, if feasible, we would like to see a wet signature there. I think it’s a nicer, more personal touch on the thank-you cards, on the welcome kits. I think that could be potentially an area where maybe you don’t automate literally everything.

Joel: Sure. Matt, anywhere you see where automation maybe isn’t quite a fit?

Matt: Robo calls. I hate robocalls.

[laughter]

Joel: Sure. Got it. Matt, you had something to add to that.

Matt: Nope. That’s the big one for me.

Joel: Got it. Carrie, anywhere where there’s no room for automation in your world?

Carrie: I’m trying to think of a specific example. I’m sure if it’s something of a sensitive nature or a tragic nature because we have that too, then the personal touch really needs to come into play. There’s got to be some things that have happened that you can’t automate that piece of it, for lack of a better word. We’ve had some tragedies around here unfortunately where some fatalities or some of our long-term customers passed away. You’ve got to get personal about that stuff. You’re not going to just send out an e-mail. It’s just not going to happen. That’s just not appropriate. In those situations I think, that’s where automation would not be a good fit.

Joel: Got it. Jamie, is there anywhere in your world where automation doesn’t fit?

Jamie: No. It’s like a bad word. I’ve always tried to focus on it. Like Carrie said, the face-to-face stuff obviously, you can’t automate that. Every day, I’m just thinking about processes, how can we approve upon them, how can we make them better, how can we automate them. I always tell my staff in every staff meeting, if there’s something that you’re doing that’s repetitive over and over and over, I want to know about it. I want to try to come up with something that’s automatic behind that. I will say this, implementing automation in your agency, it’s not easy. Your staff will resist. They will resist the change. You will make mistakes. You can’t be afraid of making mistakes. You can only learn from your mistakes.

I think the first time I set up my text messaging, I sent out 2,000 text messages that said, “Please put your contact here,” to 2,000 people because they never filled out the text message. I just send. You’re going to make mistakes. You just have to always be thinking. You have to switch the mode in your mind and the future of your agency and just think about what is my most pressing concern, what can I automate now to start saving me money, start seeing the results, and just start working at it. I’ll automate everything, Joel.

Joel: I agree with those sentiments. I’ll open this up if anybody has anything to add to that. Jamie’s sentiment of a fear of making a mistake or a fear of failure or a fear of screwing something up or something like that when you’re going to automate “what if”. I come as a sentiment. I get it, I have a biased opinion here. Long before I sat in this seat, I went with the approach that if you start automating out messages to clients, prospects and you got things going, what is the worst-case scenario if somebody gets the incorrect message? What is the worst-case scenario?

It is my opinion that the worst-case scenario is you get to have the opportunity to have a conversation with one of your clients. If that is the worst-case scenario, what business are we in? If you can’t have a conversation with your client or you don’t look forward to that, then reality is that that’s it. With that said, if anybody has anything they want to add onto that sentiment, Nick, Matt or Carrie, we’ll roll on.

Matt: Well said, Joel.

Joel: You know what, I’ll put a bow on it there. I’m just looking down through if there’s any other questions here from the crowd. There’s a lot here and I think we’ve answered most of them. Let me roll through everybody here. I just want to take the opportunity to thank you all. Matt, we’ll start with you. If somebody wants to reach out to Matt, how do they find Matt?

Matt: There’s a couple of different ways. You can go to our website at hawksoft.com. On there, you can hit “Request a Demo”. Similar to what Jamie had mentioned, we have a link to all of our calendars on there so you guys can schedule a demo actually with either myself or one of my other territory managers in the area. That would probably be the easiest, hawksoft.com.

Joel: Awesome. Nick, how do I find you?

Nick: Contact your Liberty Mutual or Safeco territory manager that comes into your office or calls you and just say that you want to talk to Nick about some marketing or automation or anything related to technology. That would be the best way to reach me.

Joel: Awesome. Carrie, how do I find you?

Carrie: You can find me in a lot of– [chuckles]

Joel: The two best ways to find Carrie.

Carrie: Actually, the social media space is what I’m trying to tell you. You could go Google my name and you’re going to find me. I’m just being honest. You can go to galvezinsurance.com. That’s our agency website. You can find me. My e-mail is there, the phone number is there. You go to Facebook, you can Google my name. You go to LinkedIn, you go to Twitter. I’m pretty easy to find.

Joel: Awesome, Jamie, how do I track you down?

Jamie: It’s tough [crosstalk]

Joel: I figure this is going two ways, there’s people that want to talk and there’s people that are coming after you. I’m not sure which, now go ahead.

Jamie: Yes, trovatoassociates.com I think you can see the name behind me. Google. The best thing to do is send me a private message, you could do that through Facebook that’s a nice easy way to communicate. If anyone ever wants to speak, we could set a time. I have a nice scheduling system that I use.

Joel: Absolutely, so if there’s anybody out there that has more questions feel free, I know all these people are open to it. If you have more questions about automating processes, communication, building better relationships and truly inventing the client experience of your dreams for your agency, feel free to reach out to us here at Agency Revolution. Click ‘Get a Demo’, and we’d be happy to have the conversation. Until next time, thanks for joining.