In this second installment of the two-part series on the importance of keeping your contact data up to date, I'll discuss data organization and the problems with trying to do it manually.
Part 2: Why a Contact Management System is Better for Your Agency
It's surprising how many agency owners try to manage their contacts, including clients, carrier reps, sub-contractors, staff members and more, with little more than a smartphone and Outlook account. Some even try to get by with nothing more than a wallet full of business cards they've collected. There are also agents who are still doing everything on paper and storing them in filing cabinets.
If you're lucky enough to have a good memory, these kinds of system may work for a while but will barely keep you afloat. They are inadequate for any agent who hopes to grow and thrive in today's online, connected world.
Yes, most office software suites come with simple, standard contact management tools, which are pre-installed on your machine before you've purchased it. The question is, are these routine default systems adequate for insurance agencies? Usually not. They have some utility for tracking names and addresses, but the drawback is the lack of integration with agency management systems and comparative raters, which is problematic and leaves room for error.
There are several problems that confront agency owners who try to get by without a real contact/data management system in place. Think about a few of these situations that may happen - or have already happened - in your agency:
- You run across a name and limited contact information but can't remember who this person is or what kind of business you've done with him.
- You would like to send targeted announcements to a group of your clients, but you have no easy way to generate a list of only those clients the information is relevant to. You either don't send the email, or you eat up so much time and money sending the email to all of your contacts that the message becomes pointless.
- You would like to engage in cross-selling other policies to some of your insureds, but you have to go through stacks of old records or paperwork to recall what policies they already have with your agency.
- You need to compile a list of segmented contacts (by area in which they live, line of business, business type, zip code, age range etc.), but you have to manually make your way through your entire contact list to create a spreadsheet (by the way, you've likely missed someone).
It's easy to see how these kinds of problems can seriously hobble your insurance agency - especially when you're trying to compete with the huge captives, who have special management systems to manage their contact management systems. Without a contact management system, keeping your clients' contact information up to date can be a tremendous time suck and leaves a lot of room for error.
In AgencyBuzz Academy and in my blogs, I talk about segmenting your lists, running split tests to optimize email marketing, using filtering options to really hit your target market, and many other best practices to fortify your email marketing plans. None of these things are possible without a contact management system, like AgencyBuzz or another system that allows you to manage contacts, policy information, and segment them for mailings.
You need a contact management system that integrates with your management system, insurance agency website and rater. This ensures that your data is up to date across all systems so nothing is falling through the cracks.
It's always best to have data backed up in more than one place as well. If you have systems in place that are not integrated or you're only updating the information in one place, you're wasting money. Period. Having the system and using it are two different things. If you're going to invest the money and the time to learn a system and train your staff on it, use it properly!
These are a few reasons why data management is SO important. If you need help cleaning or organizing your data, ITC has solutions in place for your agency. We're happy to help. Give us a call at (800) 383-3482 to talk about getting AgencyBuzz implemented in your agency.