the big i tech panel, unedited

Syd Roe, Billy Williams and Ron Berg sit down to discuss what tech agents should pay attention to in 2020 during the Big “I” Diversity Summit/Winter Meeting. 

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Who is Syd Roe?

My entrepreneurial roots date back to the summer of 6th grade. My neighborhood water balloon sales venture turned lucrative when requests from multiple local youth groups caused me to employee my 8th grade friends. After realizing there wasn’t a long-term future in the water balloon industry, the insurance industry’s prioritization of relationships captivated my attention.

Life as a commercial lines producer gave me insight into the nuts & bolts of an independent agency; while my time in the association world has given me a 30,000 foot view of the industry. Continuing to connect with insurance innovators who have a drive to push the industry forward into the digital realm is my passion. Let’s talk if that’s you!

Networking Ninja. Relentless Brainstormer. Self-sufficient Collaborator. Entrepreneurial Geek.

Connect with Syd on Linkedin.

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Syd Roe 0:00

What’s up guys super pumped to have you back on be atomic airwaves. I hope that your day is epic, fantastic, atomic, all of the above. So today I’m going to do a really quick intro and then I’m going to throw you into the meat and potatoes of this podcast. So intro real quick, not last week because of last week oh my gosh let me just I can’t even wrap my brain around what happened last week in B atomics journey. So basically, Clintonite got to present to SIAA, a master agency that has SIAA, which was fantastic. We went to meet with a consulting agency to talk about how to make data migrations and cleansing, which is just Such a terrible process in the industry right now. It’s sucks. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. How can we make it more efficient, more cost-effective, more enjoyable? And, and then oh my gosh, and then Thursday night Friday, we had our very first be atomic carrier meeting, which was just, ah, it was so good guys. It was so good. Tomorrow I’m going to put out a video on the meeting itself. But a really quick we thought we would have like 25 people from maybe four or five carriers show up like, you know, startup life you’re kind of crossing your fingers you don’t know really how much attention you’re getting, how much value how much meaning you have to the industry. And I kid you not 43 people from eight carriers showed up in that room. room. It was awesome. It was so cool. And the conversations that we got to have, like these were, these were the people that we were crossing our fingers that we’d have we had the CTOs, we had the directors of innovation, the directors of, of technology, and it was just the conversation was incredible. So, um, so that was last week. So not last week, but the week before I went to New Orleans, and basically the big guy or I ABA, independent insurance agents and brokers of America hosted their very first diversity conference and it was sort of bookended with the big AI winter meeting, which is where all the state execs from all the different state associations come together and talk about the future 2020 and what goals they have. so it was there was a lot Have people there? There are a lot of people important people there, I suppose. And they asked me to be on a panel with Billy Williams and Ron Burge to talk about technology. Really, they wanted me to give somewhat they called actionable tools that an agent could walk away with that day. We ended up getting into a bit of a heavier discussion around technology, and where it’s going. But it was a great conversation and I wanted to share it with you. Just I want you guys to hear that you know, we’re trying to talk to different parts of the insurance industry and shake things up a little bit at the big guy. So enjoy and look forward to hearing what you guys think

Ron Berg 3:58

we’re about like two chatbots like canned information with the general question.

Billy William 4:04

Well, that started and everything I talked about today, much as my wife will tell you, but um, we use chatbots a lot. If you guys go out to our website, which inspires a nation.org. Okay, inspire a nation.org. Your first thing you’re going to see is our chatbot. We use our chatbots for marketing, we use our chatbots for service we are some of our agencies use our chatbot to take quotes online. So we use chatbots a lot. And you have three types of customers. Okay, three types. Some of those that wander past right now, I want an easy I don’t want to talk to an agent. Then you have customers that I only want to talk to an agent when I have a problem. And then you have customers that I’m not going to write business unless Joe referred them because I’m in this group. I’m in this mindset that unless the people at the country club referred you, I’m not going to use you as an agent. We need to have all three of those available to us. So chatbots are not to replace the top. In the top-end customers chatbots are there for those customers that want to chatbots. And your service staff is there for those customers that want to talk to service than when they want, right when they want to. So anytime we talk about technology, guys, this is not an all in one deal. This is not an Oh, I’m gonna stop doing this and suddenly start doing this. This is put putting small pieces that cover all of the different things that happen in your agency. So

Syd Roe 5:30

I would just say there’s a difference between live chat and chatbots. So live chat is that box that you see pop up whenever you go on to a website, and it suggests that you should get in contact with somebody’s life inside that company. A chatbot is an automated version of that live agent. And the only way to power a chatbot is if you have enough conversations from your live chat that Through that data, you can predict or create some sort of conversational pathway for your customers. So for example, you might know that your customer comes on your website for five things, billing claims, or to get a quote, let’s make it three. So if you’ve got enough conversations about those three topics, you know, what words what phrases indicate those three topics, and those can trigger that automated reaction from the chatbot. The only insurance specific chatbot that I know about that’s already prefilled with all that data is and I’m totally blanking on the navigator, Pro, navigator pro navigator,

Ron Berg 6:45

they have a blend, it’s that some of their bots are a blend of both they use an app called front app is and I heard of that. And that’s like the front end and they integrate with it because they’ll

Billy William 6:56

say, hey, do you want to talk to a live person that same way

Ron Berg 6:58

out Bunch of operators on there that

Billy William 7:01

then they’ll go to a live person. So yeah, that’s really good.

Syd Roe 7:05

And yeah, pro navigator and I would say they’re very expensive. I don’t know. I mean, having a live chat is pretty cheap. So I would say go that route. But if you just remember that if you have live chat on your website, somebody has to answer or answer

Ron Berg 7:22

that’s the biggest problem.

Billy William 7:23

And there are some cheap chatbots that are out there. Chat fuel, if you guys want some cheap ones to chat fuel is very, very cheap. A conversational bot is very, very cheap. Okay, now, live disclaimer, my company owns part of Converse robot. So that’s one of our investments. So but that’s a disclaimer, but chat fueled is really good. Here’s how I tell you to use a chatbot. If you’re using a chatbot. Take your quote sheet, whatever your Fact Finder is, and build a chatbot out of that factfinder that’s all you do. It’s that’s a great way

Billy William 7:58

to start. Okay, that’s a great way to start. Then with Somebody comes to your, your site or you send them a link or you text them out a link a lot of times as we do with our referral partners. So if I have a mortgage broker or banker or whoever, that’s a referral partner, we’ll give them the link to our chatbot. And they’ll just say here, let me text you the chatbot link to our agent. And then you can just fill out the little form online, and then they’ll contact you. So just take a factfinder and build it into a chatbot. Real simple. So did you had some similar to some of the other things while also so far all of the other things we’ve been talking about? It’s a way to take overwhelmed staff and extend their capabilities. So the customers or consumers who are coming to your web site can be either find an answer without having to go through a phone tree, God forbid or wait for someone to be available, and get an answer or be directed to the right person as you develop your chatbot. So we’re giving examples here and when we didn’t pre discuss this, but we’re not advocating. We’re winging it. We’re not advocating for any one vendor from an acting standpoint. Our website which is off the BIGEYE website, independent agent.com slash act ACT has a customer experience journey webpage that will help agencies understand consumer and customer technology interaction. expectations from the time they become aware they need insurance, they start googling you till I find your website. They start assessing you to check out your marketing, check out the online wares they purchase through you. There are a number of technology implementations in there. And what app does is with the best practices out there. Some may be our panelists that are on here we have them on our website. Some are some of the ones that we’ve talked about, but it’s a way to understand when it comes to chatbot machine learning What it is, how to get started, and who are the resources to go to some free said cheap, some pro navigator, not cheap. So that’s kind of a plug for act. But it’s I’m only doing that because it’s free. Great. But again, what we’re talking about here, there’s some Billy has is using some great solutions, Sid is working on an emerging solution that is amazing. But we’re not advocating for anyone it’s up to you to understand to Billy’s point, and I’ll finish with this. Most of y’all don’t do not have one type of customer. You’ve got different customer group preferences and they overlap. In many cases, your job is to figure out what those are and address the top hit things for those two to bring those in and keep those customers but as much as anything for your staff to be as efficient as possible. Absolutely.

Syd Roe 10:54

Yeah. So let me just make a really quick follow up point on the chatbot because this cannot get lost as we’re moving into 2020. It’s not just about getting the tools. It’s about connecting the tools, right? So and this is really hard today because our systems do not make it easy. But it’s the conversation we have to have if we’re going to provide an experience that our customers demand, and if we’re going to be more efficient, and claw back some of that margin that we’ve lost, right, so thinking about the chatbot, how, how do you? How do you take those conversations and again, thinking back to that digital stamp, structure them in a way so that anybody in your agency at any time can see what’s going on in any prospect or customer’s life? It’s easy. It was easier to do that when there were three people in your business. Hey, what’s going on today? Well, I talked to this person I talked to Mr. Isaac, if you have 15 people who are all talking to different prospects, different customers, you have hundreds of conversations, maybe even thousands of conversations that are going on at any given time. How can you help your team be more aware, of the conversations that are going on and give every single person take the knowledge out of their brain and put it somewhere else so that everybody can access it? That’s, again, going back to Billy’s point, your system should be your brain. So how do you like the information and the data into that brain so that everybody shares

Ron Berg 12:22

that brain, the technology helps you enforce the process,

Billy William 12:26

it enhances what you already do. If you don’t have processes, it doesn’t matter. You guys can go and spend a million dollars on technology, you’re just you just wasted a million dollars. If you don’t have processes that your technology flows into, if you don’t have workflows already, technology is a waste of time and money for you. Pure and simple

Syd Roe 12:43

and timely. And I would say to the systems that we have today the base systems that were incredible when they were created 4050 years ago, incredible systems today do not do what we need them to do the base system. Okay, so they do an incredible job of keeping a record of risk profiles of managing your policies. But what do you do every day? Are you a Policy Manager Are you know, you’re a relationship builder, and our systems, unfortunately, haven’t evolved to the point that allows us to, to, to manage that high-value activity to manage the people manage the process and have that digital stamp, right, they’re still managing the policies and those are the conversations that we have to have with each other that we have to have with our technology vendors with our carriers in the system, so that we can be a better experience for that independent customer. We got 15

Ron Berg 13:44

minutes left any questions they want to give you the opportunity to ask a question, there was a lot of content. We got

Billy William 13:51

15 minutes left. So what I want to do is jump through my other two real quick and because this is about making money again, guys, everything I’m gonna talk about is from an agent standpoint. So the first thing about Talk about as he signatures declined coverage form. Right now our valuation is about $1.2 billion. When you add up all of our agencies together all the premium revenue, all that kind of stuff, if I had to sell it as a block, I could sell it for about $1.2 billion 30% of our income 30% of $1.2 billion comes from our declining coverage forms. Okay, every time we write a brand new customer, we tell that customer, this is what you’re getting. We recommend that you have this. Well, I can’t afford that. No problem. We’re going to send you a declining coverage form by a signature. You go ahead and sign it that way. We have a record that at least we offered it to you. You just had a claim. Hey, you had a claim. I want to point out your policy weaknesses. Just wanna remind you don’t have this Oh, yeah, no, I swear to God. We’re gonna send you a decline coverage form reminding you that this is a week. that you have. So when you have your next claim, you won’t go lie and say my agent never told me. When we’re doing your policy review, we’re going to say, okay, we’re doing your review. Here’s what we recommend. Here’s what you chose. You drive 2019 escalate, and you got $20 rent on its own. You can’t rent a bike for 20 bucks. I need you to sign this client coverage form. Well, you just sent me to last time. That’s because you made a domestic decision two times ago. So we’re going to make sure you understand what’s going on. You just had a birthday. Hey, you just turned 35 Your life is changing. When you turn 35 we recommend that you take a look at life insurance. You take a look at the accident policies you take. Yeah, yeah, I don’t I can’t afford it. No problem. We’re going to send you a declining coverage form. That’s a process. Guys, by show of hands, how many people in the room are using a decline code? The form you created for your agency, not just one the carrier tells you to need to use in order to write the policy.

Ron Berg 16:10

Okay, nobody wants to put your hand up. Yeah.

Billy William 16:16

You need your own. Okay, third thing, online appointment scheduling tool. Your people are busy as all get out. Okay, they are and they’re busy for two reasons. One, because they’re all arsonists. What do I mean by that? They start their own fires and then they spend the rest of the day putting out their own fires. Okay, a lot of arson is. The second thing is when they are legitimately busy. The phone rings and email pop in. Joe stops by to make a payment. Now everything is thrown off. So at least give them some kind of management. That’s why we have an online scheduling tool. All right, what that does what we use simply book there’s calendly there are all kinds of stuff is out there, we say if you want to schedule a policy review, use our calendar tool, we got our calendar tool set up to where you can only schedule policy reviews on Tuesdays and Thursdays between two and four. Now I’m flowing the customer into my workday versus me being pulled by the customer into what they want. You want to do a claim you got a claim you on a file or discuss with me, we’ll take the claim right away. But in order to have the conversation, we set aside a specific period of time in order to really have a deep detailed conversation with you please schedule during that time. These are your magic words scheduled so that I can give you undivided attention. Those are your magic words. Please schedule during this block of time so that I can give you my undivided attention. Makes sense. Okay, I’m done. I’ve done my three I go home now. Go home. where’s my check? Where’s my said?

Syd Roe 18:11

Well, as you say, Brian, go ahead dude. Yeah, I’ll set you up, dude.

Billy William 18:17

There we go like I got money under the table. So all of this as Paul gave me permission to do pulling back up to a high level. All of this is really good. Really where my mindset is, from an X standpoint is strategic planning, execution on something as specific as in a signature covered declined coverage form or the use in your agency workflow of chatbots and virtual assistants and virtual agents Excuse me. All of those are tactical you have to have a very proactive, strategic focus on a number of things. Yes, you’re getting pulled in your job is to sell to make money, right? So you can support your family so we can move our industry forward. Most importantly, so we can cover the needs of our customers. That’s what we’re here for, is to provide for them. So there’s so much that you’ve got going on. But you have to dedicate time to students to strategic planning for different things. What agency disaster plan, something happens, God forbid and it’s happening all around us. You have to be back there for your customers, some of which are your agency employees. So what that means is you have to have a plan in place. We have free downloadable resources that have been created by the best of the best from carriers, user groups, associations Paul was on our disaster planning board group, tech providers agents that you can download a disaster plan is just one thing, you can go to our website and find and download a disaster plan that segmented out on the things that you need to do for your agency, your physical location, your employees, your customers, your carriers, the relationships with them, your technology,

Ron Berg 20:24

is that there are all the frameworks there, all the frameworks there.

Billy William 20:27

And for all of these things, it’s not downloading it putting your logo on it, and I’m done. There is work that needs to be done, but it will help you get started. In that critical first phase. Everything we do is, what is it? Why is it important? How do I get started, that’s what you have time to focus on. And from there, you start creating your tactical plan. You all have so much on your plates. Sometimes it’s easy to say I’m going to do this tomorrow with cyber preparedness and then tomorrow happens.

Ron Berg 20:57

Go ahead. I just want to it’s as far as Plug for act because I’ve been involved with activities for a better part of my career. And these things are hung up there, and it’s an enormous amount of data. First of all, Who goes there? Does anybody go to the active site? Come on, don’t be shy, raise your hand if you are okay. So if you don’t, you didn’t raise your hand or you were afraid, raise your hand, go there. There’s so much information. But that’s not information that comes from an ivory tower of, you know, well, this is what we think they got to do, or what they think it’s, it’s a collaboration of us, you know, you know, agents and carriers and vendors. So those things are, are directly driven by the agents’ counts for technology. And those of you that are agents that get involved, it’s a bit it’s a selfish adventure. And it’s an uphill, you know, climb to but there is an enormous amount of resources. So, I know we’re getting close on time.

Billy William 21:55

I’ll just wrap up with a couple of the other things that you can download a cyber guy basically giving you all the background on all of the regulations that are out there that you must comply with. And the ways to get started. We talked we’ve talked a lot about the customer experience and that’s in both of my colleagues’ wheelhouses. The customer experience I referred to earlier, it’s understanding both internally and externally, your customers and within your agency, what key things you have to have in place to be as efficient as possible to meet those needs that we all have on our business interactions. So we have a website. And again, we point to some of the resources the best practice resources that are represented up here. And within some of the people, I see in the audience. We have things like we talked about texting, e signature, you should have from an email standpoint, an agreement with your customers to text and esign we have downloadable forms that you can just put in place and at executing on that, so we’re a free resource for you. So that’s my schpeel said I

Syd Roe 23:09

was gonna do we have enough time for that because I hit

Ron Berg 23:12

it man, but if they leave if they want to leave,

Syd Roe 23:14

okay, I’ll give a quick. Does anybody here do video proposals? Heck yes. Okay. I started doing video proposals like two and a half years ago and started sharing this idea with agents, I got it from somebody else I did not come up with it not that smart. And the idea behind it is we don’t have the ability today to meet with every single one of our prospects. It used to be where they would come into our office or we could, you know, sit across from them in a coffee table or go grab dinner, and we just moved too fast today. We there. Even when I was a producer for my dad’s agency 10 years ago, I still wasn’t meeting with every single one of my prospects. I would most There were people that I wrote that I would just have a relationship with over the phone. And it’s really difficult to deepen that relationship when they can’t see you. There’s something about being able to see somebody their body language, their facial expressions, you get a sense of their energy and who they are. And video it allows you to do that, right? It allows you to give them the experience of sitting across from them at a coffee table. The other thing that video does that’s really cool is and I’m a data nerd is that it allows you to track exactly what’s going on the other side of the screen. So often, we’ll send emails, we’ll leave voicemails, and we’re blind to how the prospect is responding to our communications, our reach outs. If you send a video proposal, you can track things like how many times did they watch the video? When did they watch the video? What parts Did they rewatch? So if you’re talking about three different types of coverages, which one was most important? I had a guy who watched my video eight times. So when I walked in on Tuesday morning, and I had 10 video proposals that I had sent the day before, I knew I was going to start with the guy who watched it eight times, right? Maybe even a little creepy, in a way, right? But it’s like that’s what it allows you to do is it gets it gives you insight on what’s going on in the other person’s life and how likely they are to want to do business with you. So that’s all I’ll say, for video proposals. As far as the larger conversation, I think, coming into 2020, we are going to have a very tough conversation as an industry. And this is the thing we’re all agents sitting in this room, right? This is a great conversation to have with agents in a room. But we need more than just the agent because often here’s what happens. The industry looks at the agent system and says, okay, we need to give a better customer experience. The agent is the one talking to the customer. So the agent has to adopt or better use the technology that exists. Does it? Do any of you guys play team sports? I’m a big sports analogy person, okay, I played soccer. That would be like my team coming to me after a game and saying said, we didn’t score any points. You’re the striker. It’s your fault. Right? That’s the analogy that the industry is making. And it’s not the agents’ fault. If we gave the agent a million dollars of technology, they still couldn’t provide an incredible customer experience. And they still couldn’t be incredibly efficient and call back those margins. Because what it’s going to take coming into 2020 is a collaborative conversation between tech between agents and between carriers. We have to have that conversation. You guys in this room. I already know that you’re trying to use the tech you raise your hand for video proposals. You should be having conversations with your carriers about how to integrate, Why doesn’t your underwriter get on video chat? Right? How do we start to come together and as an industry, and really what it comes down to is, we need to understand our customers so well that we can be proactive. Are you guys agency owners in the room? How many agency owners do we have? Most? Okay, how many of you can tell me exactly what’s going on? With any customer, any team member or any carrier right now?

Syd Roe 27:32

Get out of here, Robert.

Syd Roe 27:35

Street, this is okay.

Billy William 27:41

You know what I want to point out to him. What I want to point out to him is a lot of people think that tech is a young person’s game. Tech is a smart person’s game. It doesn’t matter what age you are. A lot of young people are not tech-savvy. They’re tech-dependent. Okay, don’t confuse the two things just because you are 22 year old doesn’t mean they’re gonna get your social media up and running. Don’t believe that? Yeah.

Syd Roe 28:08

And let me say this really quick because I’m a young person, as a young person. I need you. I need you to have the conversations because you have relationships that I don’t have. I need the people in this room who are older than me to step up and start to have those conversations with people who can make changes. So it had 100% believe 100%