November 6, 2015
Top 4 Things Carriers Should Avoid to Improve Agent-Carrier Communication
By: Patrick Masi
Many carriers have created customized agent onboarding, retention, and termination processes. If you are like them, you may not be aware of the work being done by industry organizations to create best practices, standards, and forms for these critical processes.
By adopting these best practices, some carriers are leading the industry and standardizing agent communications for these key interactions. If your organization is not comfortable completely jumping ship and changing processes, there are four things that you should avoid to keep agents happy.
1. Asking for a license copy
By asking an agent for a physical copy of their insurance license, the agent must first figure out how to print a copy, scan it, and then fax it. Not only is this a tedious process that may postpone business, but when you receive the copy it may be out of date by the time it is placed in the system. With technology today, it is safe to say that agents expect an electronic, paperless experience. Not only will this make your agents happier, but it will get them selling faster.
2. Giving them your fax number
To emphasize the previous point, an agent's nightmare begins with receiving a fax number. This means that much of your processes begin with paper; printing a document, manually filling it out and signing it, then faxing it back.
Now if something is filled out incorrectly, it then has to be filled out again, sent back, and reviewed again. If paper processing makes selling business for your company more difficult than that of another carrier, you run the risk of losing your agents.
3. Requiring Carrier Custom Personal Information Forms
Many carriers have custom personal information forms that agents are required to complete. What we've found in most of these forms is that agents are filling out the same information repeatedly. Leaving the agents to think, "What if there was one form to cover this all?"
Standardization of agent-carrier communication has been an initiative for years. Leveraging these standards and forms, including the ACORD 821 form, will ensure that your agent is swapping out their paper and pen for more time with customers.
4. Having No Set Process
Agents are working hard to sell your business. They're an essential connection to your new and existing consumers. When booking business, problems may need to be resolved in a way that requires instant communication with you. When agents have worked hard to get business in hand, a lack of efficient communication processes creates the risk of delaying business. Watching a customer walk out the door is frustrating to an agent when it is out of their power to prevent it. So fast and efficient communication matters.
Although your current processes may fulfill your internal requirements and be familiar practice to your team, we've found that improving these agent interactions are one of the top ways you can differentiate yourself from other carriers today. If becoming an agent's carrier of choice is one of your goals, consider these ideas to make doing business with your organization easier and more efficient for your agents.
Vertafore and Celent have partnered on a comprehensive survey to figure out where carriers should prioritize spending, how top carriers are performing, how and why agents are choosing carriers, and what is most important to the agent community. Click here to discover the results!
Patrick Masi is a Senior Product Manager for Vertafore where he works with developers and sales to help carriers deliver outstanding agent experiences. Patrick is a graduate of the University of Michigan, a former software developer, and an avid hockey player who makes the best out of the seemingly endless Michigan winter. Follow him on Twitter @pjmasi and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/pjmasi/.