TOOLS FOR YOU TO START USING TODAY will be the focus of this article: I wish I could tell you I have the ultimate digital agency where AI – Artificial Intelligence –  recordings of my voice and mind handled everything and in between waking up, being on a cruise while looking at my bank account, I would otherwise be busy and absent… but that would be both misleading and pure fantasy.
 

The digital agency, for me, like you, is still a work in progress. Rather than recounting a digital history, let’s have a moment in time examination and a check-off list.  No more file folders…DONE. Is that where your agency is at? That’s probably where most are.  Oh, how we are still in love with paper.  Our clients may be more willing to give up paper than we are. Paper clutter is the process of paper until its end date.  Paper can easily get scattered about and disorganized. Digitizing stuff gets rid of old information security issues and adds new ones, but this subject is for another time.

Going digital creates new routines for almost the same processes as we have used with paper.  Going paperless adds new depths in what can be done with what we already have on paper.  Digital processes, when learned, can create more order with less time.  Making changes in our agencies is like teaching an adult to swim.  If you could read that adult’s mind, it would be somewhere between total panic and absolute terror.  In other words, REAL FEAR. It is that fear which prevents us from positive change.  Not to worry, we’re in this together and there are a lot of us slow learners, but we can learn faster than we think possible and love it.  You will discover that it’s not as hard as you might have anticipated.  Today, I hate those file folders, and realize, some of you have never seen them – lucky you.

Let’s review our check-off list:  E-Signature, Text, Downloads, the Boogie Board and VOIP. Finally, there is The Digital Battlefield

E-Signature Big News for HawkSoft E-Signature (powered by InsureSign) users:  You should already be e-signing through any one of a number of companies but I’m really excited about HawkSoft’s partnership with InsureSign because it does more.  I say it puts the Big Easy in electronic signatures in 3 ways. An 86-year-old client of mine said, “This was so easy!” when she signed in person at my desk.  You get In Person, by Text and by Email forms for e-Signing and even more features.  You can get that form signed in within 5 minutes via texting rather than whenever, if ever.  Call HawkSoft to get set up if you are not already using it.  Everyone I’ve spoken to who has used it simply loves it and wonders why they didn’t have it sooner!  See link HawkSoft E-Signature 5 New Features

Texting: Get permission to text first. Never use texting for marketing.  Texting can be done through Kotter’s Bridge program or other services (like BulkSMS or Message Media, which integrate with HawkSoft).  HUG Templates available but you must be a member which is free.

Data Management

Downloads:  Those who provide us with policies must offer downloads.  We must ask for it, even demand it, NO…expect it as a normal way of doing business.  IVANS is one platform, but there are other ways.  The software costs for this integration is a normal and reasonable cost of doing business.  It reduces our costs, even the cost for the vendor/carrier leading to better quality of data and more of it.  This will become more important as insureds have access to their insurance data from our CMS.  If we don’t have timely data, we will not compete against the data provided by others such as direct writers and AI online providers such as Next Insurance mentioned later.  Get your insurance vendors, carriers, MGAs, GAs, Finance Companies in on the automation conversation with Timely Downloads and Uploads of data from quotes to policies and policy transactions including claims. See the discussion continued below under, “The Digital Battlefield is changing”.  If you do not demand it and expect it, downloading will give others a competitive advantage against you.  HawkSoft can help your insurance providers learn more about setting up downloads.  Encourage them to contact

Customer access integration with CMS via a Partner API will be a part of our future, and it is a must in the internet age. When you can get it, you need to.  There are programs out there today that do some pretty amazing things.  You’ll have to talk to the vendors because I’m not there yet and that’s not a part of this blog.

Let your voice speak freely to create data such as notes, Scratch notes and correspondence via Microsoft Voice or Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  This will save time, but make sure its Voice to Text hears correctly.  Don’t skip reading “Tools of the trade for your review” at the end.

Digital data brings paper data to life as data sheets and data pages including PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, video presentations, screen sharing and VOIP phones.

There is paper clutter and there is digital clutter as previously mentioned.  At the HUG 2019 National Conference in Las Vegas in April, there was a class on removing digital clutter and it is a lot easier piling it on your desk and faster than using the shredder.  You’ll hear more about this topic in the future.

Protect credit card information with a one-time use using a Boogie Board and destroy the data with one touch of the button for when you have to charge a credit card over the phone. Paperless!  

 

Data: Digitally create PDFs, manipulate them… sometimes sharing them when completing them, as needed, and saving them by digitally putting them away for later retrieval as needed… is a big part of our jobs.

The cost of doing business is changing. Our tools change and the physical location requirements are evolving as more and more people work at unknown distances from retail offices, often from their homes across the world. Instead of an employer providing a desk in an office; they are providing a fast internet connection from their home.  The Digital Office may not have the walls of the past, but they will always require a well-connected, well-trained team.

VOIP – Phone integration with HawkSoft CMS data: If you are still using a landline for your phone service, you are out of date.  You might want to keep a landline for emergencies, but not as your business workhorse for your agency phone and fax when a service like Kotter’s Bridge or Ring Central do amazing things.  Your phone rings and you get, what I call, “CMS ID”, because a popup identifies the caller and associated file to open.  It’s really cool to answer the phone call and say “Hi Bob, what can I do for you?” or even just “Hola Juan!”  You should make sure you have enough upload/download speed.  Have your internet provider check your line to make sure it is clean and there are no shorts on the line, or you will have garbled problems.  Such problems affect all connectivity to the internet and even reduce your computer connection speed.  Paying more can still get you less, unless it is fixed.

The Digital Battlefield is changing, and we must add to our war chest, the tools that the Online Artificial Intelligence gangs (AI) are already using against the insurance agency system as we have known it or we will be overtaken by their game plan, not ours.  This is a wake-up notice to carriers, wholesalers, and retailers as well as their software providers and everyone’s associations.  The first AI of many examples to come in the commercial insurance sector, NEXT Insurance, has hit the streets and it is an AI company focusing on commercial, big time.  It’s not just Esurance online competing against us any more for auto.  NEXT Insurance is very well funded.  Since 2016, investors like American Express, Munich Re / HSB Ventures, and Nationwide have poured in $131 million. [crunchbase.com] Investors and insurance companies are very willing to apply the spit wad test to send lots of investment dollars a lot of different ways, to see what works.  I want to make sure that those companies, we helped create, keep coming back to reinvest in us – giving us the most modern tools available – perhaps even the beta versions for us to try first, but it is not going that way. We need to change that and not lower our expectations. Again, repeatedly ask and demand creation of the technology we really need.

By using the very title above, “The Digital Agency – Getting There,” I want you to know that I am in the same boat as many of you from my pre-internet days.  Up to now, there are so many things learned, to learn and to share on my insurance career path.  I’m not completely there now and with so many exciting innovations on their way, I would like to be with you throughout our journey and process. Let’s not keep with the Jones of the AI, there are so many of us with such massive brainpower, let’s be the Jones that the AI gangs have to keep up with us!  Sure, it can seem overwhelming at times and that is a time to slow down for a learning moment.  Let us overpower our fears through a process of committed learning. It keeps you young and excited when something new happens. It creates new opportunities for us.

Tools of the trade for your review:

  • HawkSoft Scratchpad
  • The HUG Template Library* – each agency should have a frequent review of the template library for additions to their own Templates and Custom Lists, and set a date and time every week to do this.
  • Boogie Board to write down but not save credit card numbers
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows
  • E-Signature apps such as InsureSign offering 3 ways to sign, Email, Text, and In Person
  • PDF software such as Adobe or Nuance PDF for read, write fill-in; credit card software, VOIP such as RingCentral or Kotter’s Bridge, Zapier

Online Backup:  If you need Emergency Restoration by file transfer, get your internet provider to upgrade your speed as fast as they can to get your systems up and running in no time.  The fix can be done in hours if you have online, out of the area, backups.  I host locally and Kotter’s backup has saved me, twice now!  Over time, we will add to our tools list, hammers, saws, and all!  I hope to see you all in Orlando for the next National HUG Conference – Orlando, April 2020

John Morton, owner of John A Morton Insurance Agency in San Francisco, California, is a board member of HUG and previously served as a Vice President and board member of American Agents Alliance for 13 years.  It continues to be a pleasure for him to serve the insurance community.  He also speaks Spanish and lives on humor being the funniest person he personally knows.

John A. Morton, MBA
John A Morton Insurance Agency
San Francisco, CA
jaminsurance@gmail.com
Phone: 415-282-5888

*To Access the HUG Template Library (exclusively for HUG members like you), you must set up a username and password (click on “Log in” from the HUG main page) to access the “members only content” section of the website, then you can access the template library for free.  Go to: www.hawksoftusergroup.org.