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Shiny Toy Syndrome?

Blog - Shiny Toy Syndrome

Looking at adding new agency tech? (Part 1)

Take a step back.

Forewarning – This will be a series.

Over the years I’ve noticed a trend of frustration amongst agency owners and their team members about the new shiny toy (technology) they purchased for their agency… Or is it uncertainty? Too many times do I read comments as to why their new agency tech doesn’t work the way it was “described.” Let’s ask ourselves why that is, and what we can do about it.

In most agencies, the agency owner is required to wear many hats, ranging from being the face of the agency to processing endorsements and opening mail. What did we accomplish with wearing all our hats? In our heads, some days we believe we’ve accomplished everything. Other days we believe we’ve accomplished nothing…we’re spread too thin. I often picture the scene from the movie Liar Liar where Fletcher Reede played by Jim Carrey rips his hair out in frustration because he can’t tell a lie in the court room. I often find myself doing this when addressing these same issues we all face.

Blog - Shiny Toy Syndrome - Frusteration GIF of Jim Carrey Pulling Out His Hair

The most important question to ask before implementing new technology at your agency is this: am I or should I be the right person to determine whether we add this new tech to our agency, and do I feel that I can onboard it successfully? The word successfully needs to be thrown in there. The backbone of its success focuses on what I believe are these two oversimplified items: current processes and future processes. In this blog we’ll focus on current processes.

Current Processes

Agencies tend to have a weakness when it comes to creating strong, well-defined processes. There are vendors in our space that specialize solely in helping agencies build and implement these. At the end of the day, don’t we believe that the process makes the product? (Future blog on this coming) Let’s figure out how to make you successful in implementing your new shiny tech into your current processes.

Identify Processes

It’s time to identify what process or processes your new shiny tech will support. Yes, SUPPORT. Implementation of this tech should be enhancing what you’re already doing.

Research & Enhance the Processes

You’ve picked the process or processes you’re going to support with this new tech. Now it’s time to understand them. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Yeah yeah, I already understand them. I do it every day.” Do you? It’s the perfect time to revisit it. Let’s run through it from start to finish. First, from the agency side. What steps does the team take internally to carry out this process? (Good time to take out a pen and piece of paper) Be sure to check the nooks and crannies of that process. Keep data input and keystrokes in mind. Now, let’s run through that same process from the client side. How does it affect them? More importantly, is it keeping up with the times and their expectations? The recent pandemic has changed a lot of processes and the expectations of simplicity on our client’s side.

Looking through your process, have you identified the weak point in the chain? Maybe you need to rebuild that process from scratch? If so, it’s a great time to utilize the Hawksoft User Group on Facebook. Reach out and ask how other agencies approach something similar. You may be surprised by a simple answer that you’ve just so happened to overlook.

Implement the Enhanced Processes

Proper implementation and onboarding of this new tech is the key success that sets agencies apart from the masses. A common number that is thrown around in product usability within agencies is 20%, meaning that agencies tend to use only 20% of what that product offers them, from their agency management system to 3rd party vendors. Too often do we adapt a “set it and forget it” mindset when applying new tech, assuming or trusting the third-party tech company to get it to work. This is then followed by frustration or uncertainty in the product because we, in our role of selecting it, haven’t done the due diligence in making sure it’ll work for us and support our processes. After all, we’ve paid for something that was promised to work for us with our current tech stack. That’s how it should go, right?

We couldn’t be more wrong. We need to keep in mind that every agency has its own unique steps and processes that may revolve around a similar topic of focus. The topics of focus may be renewals, payment processing, email communication, you name it. We all do them differently. This creates a challenge for our tech vendors. They create a product that will work for the majority and utilize specific data fields that have been provided to them. This is extremely important. Data fields that tech vendors may utilize are almost always a mess on the agency side.

Your third-party vendor can be provided over 500 unique data fields from your agency management system’s API that they will pull from and implement into their tech. Now if our current internal process isn’t well defined, such as specifying that a cell phone number needs to only be in the specific field marked “Cell Phone,” then we cannot be frustrated over the fact that something on the tech vendor’s side which utilizes that data field doesn’t work correctly. My team has been down that route and experienced years of frustration. What did we need to do? As my friend Dr. Billy Williams would say, “clean the job site.” It’s the first step taken before you’re ready to lay a solid foundation.

Before you and I go any further on this journey, I want you to really evaluate your current processes and clean the job site. It’s a crucial step in successfully implementing your next supporting tech toy into your agency.

Take your time, don’t rush, and discuss with your team. We’ll be back shortly to move on to the next steps.


Blog Author:
Bogus Handzel
Chief Operating Officer – Handzel & Associates Ltd.
Chicago, Illinois