Technology is critical to our lives and our businesses. It improves our efficiency and helps us be more productive and use our time better.
Maybe your current systems aren't meeting your needs. Or, maybe you've discovered a problem or inefficiency that a new software solution could improve.
Either way, it's time to look for a new insurance agency software vendor. How do you know which one is right for your agency? Follow these steps.
Identify Your Needs
Before you can start your search, you need to know what you're looking for. Make three lists:
1. The Essentials. These are the features and capabilities that are critical to your agency operations. If the program is missing anything from this list, it won't make it to the next round for consideration.
2. The Conditionals. These are the features that aren't critical to your operations but are important for productivity and making business decisions. Rank any insurance agency software that lacks these features lower on your list.
3. The Nice to Haves. These are the features and capabilities that make up your wish list. They are not dealbreakers. But, if two systems have everything on your other two lists, these features can sway your decision.
Decide on Your Budget
How much do you anticipate spending? Think about starting or setup costs as well as any ongoing costs for maintenance or support. If what you're looking for is to replace a current system, consider the cost of switching to a new vendor. How much will it cost to get your data out of the old system?
Make a List
Start researching insurance agency software vendors. Make a list of all the systems that are available. Then compare this list to your three lists from above and your budget expectations. Narrow down your list of vendors until you have your finalists.
Now that you have your vendor short list, start asking questions. The answers will help you determine which vendor is the best fit for your agency.
1. How long has the company been in business?
2. What's their experience in the insurance industry and its unique needs?
3. Is the software company growing?
4. Will the system meet your current needs? Will it be able to adapt to your needs as your agency changes and grows?
5. Does the vendor offer the latest technologies, e.g., mobile, bind online, etc.?
6. How are updates and upgrades managed?
7. What is their service level agreement? How do they handle any downtime?
8. Will it integrate with your existing systems?
9. Is there a contract involved?
10. Is it easy to set up?
11. What kind of training does the vendor offer?
12. How will the vendor support you after the sale?
13. What do their customers say? Will they give you references? What do online reviews reveal?
14. What are the support options? Where is support located? Where is the system developed? Is technical support available in various ways, such as toll-free, email and remote support? Are there videos? FAQs? Do their support hours match yours?
15. What is the frequency of updates? Is there a cost to upgrade?
16. Is the customer service team responsive and knowledgeable? Are they empowered to solve problems?
A Couple Other Considerations
Do you want just a vendor? Or are you looking for a partner? A company that will care about you and your agency. A company that has demonstrated thought leadership and stays on the forefront of trends so your agency benefits.
How does your staff feel about the potential solutions? Will you be spending your time using the new software? Or, will your time be spent convincing your staff to use it?
Technology can affect your operations. It can affect your marketing. It can affect your sales. It can affect your staff and the morale of your office.
Bottom line? Technology is critical to your agency.
You need to choose the insurance agency software vendor that is right for your agency. Use these tips to find the system that is the best fit for you.
The Modern Agency is a monthly blog series in which we discuss various topics related to the success and growth of independent insurance agencies in the modern market.
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