TLDR; The Agency Management System was thought into existence almost 40 years ago. Is an updated version of a 40 year old system going to help the indie agent win the battle for online attention? Or is it time to create version 1.0 of something different….together?
The Day We Digitized The Filing Cabinet
I’ll never forget the day.
My dad moved his New Port Richey, FL insurance agency out of a small office rental. He poured 2 years and lots of money on government permits into constructing a beautiful 16-office building.
It was a big day for him.
All the offices lining the outside wall meant that everyone was graced with a window. And in the middle of this custom-build was a gigantic room.
In this gigantic room, we kept 2 fax machines, an old black typewriter, the sharpest of awkwardly-sized green paper trimmers and the insurance agent’s relic: a serious set of filing cabinets.
But walking into this new professional “home” wasn’t the day I’ll never forget.
It was a year or so later.
I heard the sound of the front door opening. I looked up from the front desk I was woman-ing.
In waltzes a very confident young man in perfectly pressed khaki pants.
“Is Greg here?”
I buzzed my dad and he asked me to walk the young man down to his office.
Intrigued, I awkwardly hung around in the doorway until my dad finished introductions and waved me to close the door and just sit down already.
One of the benefits of being the owner’s kid…..part of your education is sitting in on the exciting meetings.
And boy was this an exciting one.
Not just because of khaki pants’ ridiculous energy level.
Over the next 60 minutes, he proceeded to tell us how he could make all of our filing cabinets disappear from the gigantic room in the middle of our building….and reappear right at our fingertips whilst sitting at our desks.
Enter The Agency Management system.
Also known as “TAM.”
No more fear of losing contract pages, no more getting our “steps” in.
This was a more secure, faster way of doing business.
We were sold.
Will We Win With Version 17.7?
Fast forward to today.
When I think back on that moment, I ask myself what has changed in the agency management system world between then and now.
Well, they have certainly adapted to many social curveballs thrown their way. To name a few:
- The need to be on The Cloud.
- Some supportive technology like e-signature.
- And some are even beginning to open up and build light APIs.
And my hat tips to them for these improvements.
Without them, maybe The Independent Channel would have lost the battle years ago.
But coming into 2021 and beyond….is it enough?
Does it matter how many “improvements” are stacked on top of each other?
Will we win armed with Version 17.7 of a technology whose core philosophy is rooted in the 90’s?
Or is it time for Version 1.0?
Think back to that day in New Port Richey, Florida.
What was khaki pants’ pitch?
“I will digitize your filing cabinet.”
Aka: “I will turn your policies into data.”
Data = policies.
That is the birthplace, the origin story of the Agency Management System.
Look around you….at all the people on their phones….at the phone or computer sitting in front of you.
What are you doing every time you log on?
In 2020+, our definition of “data” is so much more expansive than “a static record of policies.”
Data has a life and breath to it.
It’s a copy of our ever-evolving behaviors.
Data = behaviors.
Hold onto that new definition. I’ll explain why we can’t win without a system that reflects an understanding of this.
Rethinking The Agency Management System
“How did we lose those clients?”
“We didn’t know.”
“Well, what was wrong with what we were doing?”
“We didn’t know.”
Seth Zaremba’s words echo in my head often.
Here was an agent who was being called to be more than an incredible salesperson running a successful sales center.
He knew it. He didn’t hide from it by feeding into the “just sell more” theory.
To win the fight for his client’s attention and more of the marketplace, he knew he had to be a better leader running a successful business.
He was craving change, was clawing for progress….but couldn’t answer the questions that kept him up at night.
He knew the outcome.
His system could tell him what happened….how many policies he had created, modified, cancelled and renewed.
But he couldn’t unlock the secret to improvement.
He was stuck in this cycle of trusting his people to “do the right thing” or “click faster” and navigating awkward quarterly “partnership” meetings.
Until one night at 2 a.m. it smacked him right in the face.
(Actually….I have no idea if it was at night…at 2 a.m…..or if it felt like a “smack”. But give me this one, folks. I’m on a roll.)
He needed The Why.
He needed one system that could track the actions of Zinc’s clients, marketer, sales people, service people and carrier partners.
His theory: if he could track the behaviors of all players involved in any given process or transaction, he could understand where the ball was being dropped on experience or efficiency….and change the result.
Because behaviors = outcome.
He didn’t just need “The What” data. (policies)
He needed “The Why” data. (behaviors)
In short, he realized the arc of the data economy’s evolution had not been truly straddled by Agency Management System vendors.
We live in a world where I can get a copy of a 2,000+ year old book or the latest, loudest, largest television shipped to my house in not two days…..but one.
Oh….and if my book has weird creases….or my tv has a few dead pixels….I can request a new one, no questions asked, in 48 hours. AND I can ship my old one back for free.
But it takes an agent days to get a simple BOP quote for a prospect?
It takes an agent multiple phone calls and long wait times to figure out the status of a customer’s claim?
This is a terrible experience for the customer.
It kills margin.
And it’s just plain embarrassing.
“It’s the carrier’s fault.”
“It’s the agent’s fault.”
“It’s the client’s fault.”
In today’s world, the answer does NOT depend on the truth….but rather upon which side of this 400 year old triangular fence you sit.
Put down the finger guns for a minute.
No matter who you are. No matter where you sit. No matter what your view.
Do you care about The Customer? And The Indie Experience?
If you said “yes,” well….me too. Us too.
So let’s just be honest with The Why.
Am I dropping the ball? Are you dropping the ball? Are they dropping the ball?
All questions that need to be answered…but can only be answered with the right data set….honesty at scale.
I’ll end by asking you this: can we win the fight for efficiency and experience armed only with an agency management system?