Excalibur Insurance Group’s tech innovations earned them the inaugural National Agent for the Future™ Award in 2018. Here, Excalibur CEO Jeff Roy shares how his agency is continuing to adapt for the future.
This year has driven changes in the independent agent channel faster than many of us ever would have expected.
More happened in the last six months than probably the last five to ten years. This year accelerated the independent agent channel five years ahead in six months.
Personally, I think this time has been a good catalyst to get the insurance industry moving to adopt more tech. At Excalibur Insurance, we were lucky to have many technology tools in place before COVID-19 hit. We were able to quickly shift our approach and mostly keep on track with our goals.
However, there were still challenges. Like most other agencies, we were forced into grind mode, having to quickly learn a bunch of new skills. It has been tough at times, but I believe that this time will make us a better agency in the long-term.
Here are some of the ways we’re investing in our agency technology:
Going paperless and pushing our agency app
At the beginning of this year, many of our clients were still getting direct mail from our carrier partners. When COVID-19 hit, carriers worried that the Canada Post office might close. They started pushing digital initiatives and encouraging agencies to go paperless.
Our agency had originally planned to start our journey to going paperless this fall. We had to move up our timeline and do a lot of work on our mobile app to make it work for our client-facing documents. We made a bunch of videos explaining what paperless is and instructing customers on how to use our mobile app. All this was alongside other our communication efforts around COVID. We did four or five email blasts to our customers with information, built a portal on our website with articles and information, and tried to reach out directly to clients in certain industries we knew were affected.
Now, we’re in the process of pushing out our mobile app to all our clients so they won’t need to get physical mail. That’s going to be a huge push for the next year or two.
Investing in more data-driven tech
Fortunately, COVID didn’t delay any of our new technology projects. In fact, it only reaffirmed the investments we’re making in technology that will help us have better control over our agency data.
We knew before this year that we didn’t have the right phone system in place. But we were waiting to make sure we got a system that integrated with our other technology. Now, we’re in the process of deploying a new system called Croo.io, which allows full voice over IP controls. It also integrates with Salesforce, has texting built in and allows us to records calls. The parent company is working on some AI tools that will be built in so we will be able to analyze calls. We’ll be able to look at our scripting and see where there’s room for improvement, and eventually, we’ll also be able to do sentiment analysis.
Another important factor of the new phone system is that it integrates with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which we’re also implementing. We hope Salesforce integration will enable us to better communicate with our clients and provide us more data than the basic email software we currently use. We’ll be able to look at who opens our emails, see who is engaging with our content and start lead scoring our clients and prospects at a higher level.
The platform will give us better control over our data – and we’ll be able to share that data. We’re working with Seth Zaremba and the b atomic team to aggregate our data with other brokers and agents – which will help us all get better.
Tracking metrics and improving the quality of digital leads
Digital can help agents drive leads. Once you have a good website, you can work on your domain ranking, build your social media channels and amplify your messages to start turning leads.
My advice for other agents is to try to build a funnel of leads through different sources such as paid advertising, pay per click, social media, referrals and more. This will help you get the number of leads you need to be able to sell enough business.
Once a lead comes in, though, you need a sound process for handling those leads, and you need to measure things like your response times, your close ratios, which companies you’re closing with, what areas you’re writing business in. You also need to pay attention to what kinds of clients you’re drawing in with your marketing mix and determine the quality of the leads you’re getting.
It’s important for you to know what it’s costing you per click, per quote, and what your overall acquisition cost is per client that you write. Knowing those metrics and numbers gives you a baseline from which to improve your agency. By learning those numbers and looking at that data over time, you can drive costs down. You can figure out how to improve conversion rates and make sure you’re driving the kinds of leads that convert.
At Excalibur, we’re working on improving the quality of our leads and reduce our acquisition costs. Instead of doing “random acts of content” – writing blogs about any topic with high search volume, we’re trying to build content journeys based on personas
Continuing to push technology forward
At Excalibur, we’re continually looking to implement technology that will help us reduce costs, automate tasks and generally work better and faster. We know many other agents are doing the same. Right now, everyone is trying to reposition themselves in the rapidly changing digital world.
The current technology tools available in the insurance industry are good, but they still aren’t quite where they need to be to move us forward. Agents, carriers and vendors need to work together to push things to a whole new level. We can’t be complacent and accept “good” – we want to work together toward “great.”