“I don’t have the time. I don’t have the staff.”

Without question, these are the challenges I hear most from agents when they’re considering new growth and retention strategies.

Before turning to hiring or shuffling your calendar around to find time, consider how technology can help you get time back in your day.

Let clients self-service simple tasks 

An easy-to-implement option that helps save time is self-service. With the evolution of mobile design and better data transparency, many people prefer to do for themselves rather than contacting a business. In fact, 88% of consumers expect businesses to offer an online self-service support option, according to data from Statista.

With self-service, your existing clients can access their own ID cards, get certificates of insurance, pay bills and even file claims.

Self-service helps to reduce emails, phone calls and texts to your office, allowing your staff to focus on business-building activities.

When offering self-service, communication is paramount. Consumers won’t use a feature they don’t know is available. Most people need to hear a message multiple times through different communication mediums before they retain a message, so be sure to tell them at point of sale, in post-sale communications, on your website and at renewal.

Use chatbots for routine requests

Another technology option that can help you save time is an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot (AI). Chatbots and AI are poised to change the way we do business because of their ability to understand and process human language and return information in seconds. Just think of the rapid evolution of ChatGPT and the impact it has had since its launch in late 2022.

Chatbots are easy to set up and can handle routine requests, such as getting contact information, starting a quote and more. According to PSFK Innovation Consulting & Research Services, 74% of internet users prefer using chatbots when looking for answers to simple questions.

Additionally, chatbot responses are built to mimic human responses. To a customer, it’s as if they’re working with an agent right in your office.

If you’re looking to learn more about chatbots, start by reaching out to your website vendor.

What I like most about chatbots and self-service is that these tech features nudge your agency toward being available 24/7. Certainly, these tech tools can’t fulfill every request, but it does offer ways for clients and prospects to engage with your agency on their time, even when you’re not there.

Close business faster with video proposals

Technology can also help you reduce the time needed to obtain information and make the sale during the quoting and issuing process.

A popular option for connecting better with prospects and improving close ratios are video proposals. They allow you to send your customer a short video recording as you share and explain their quote and coverage options.

Video proposals afford you both an opportunity to share your knowledge and build a strong relationship with your customer during the buying process. This can result in a more immediate response from the customer.

According to Forge3, some producers using video proposals are reporting a 15-20% increase in close ratios. One agent reported a whopping 91% increase. With better close ratios, you can direct that extra time toward more sales opportunities.

Use digital tools for quick communication

Don’t forget about the power of texting when seeking a timely response from a customer. While email remains a valuable communication tool, texting can help you quickly get information back. Text messages have a 98% open rate, according to Gartner. Additionally, it takes just 90 seconds on average for a text reply.

Insurance verification technology can also help producers reduce the amount of time seeking key quoting and binding information. With just a link or QR code, you can get current coverage and premium information, declaration pages and more from customers in a matter of minutes.

Automate marketing messages to increase referrals and retention

Communicating with existing clients after the sale holds valuable retention and referral revenue benefits. The more we personably communicate with clients, the better the retention and referrals.

According to PropertyCasualty360, agents who average two or more contacts per year with their customers are growing more than their counterparts not doing this.

In my experience, most agents would like to develop deeper client relationships if they could find easy ways to do it without sacrificing time that could be focused on prospecting opportunities.

Marketing automation is a clear choice to solve this dilemma. More and more, it’s becoming a foundational business technology for independent agents. Through automation, you can consistently cultivate strong client relationships through personalized messages, and marketing automation offers new cross-sell and insurance review opportunities. All of this happens behind the scenes without you ever having to click send on an email.

Tech your way to time savings

Taken together, these technology tools can save you hours managing business tasks, addressing common customer questions and connecting with clients. That’s time back in your day to focus on new sales opportunities and streamlining your business.

If you’re looking for help with any of these tech solutions, start with your agency management system (AMS) provider. If they don’t offer a solution, there are many vendors who can help. Most offer integration with agency management systems.

Additionally, look to your carriers. They often have services you can leverage, such as self-service and automated email campaigns. While carrier-specific, they still allow you to take advantage of some time-saving technology tools.

Talk to your local Big I for help selecting a solution that works best for your agency. You can also learn more about agency technology and vendor solutions through the national Big I’s Agents Council for Technology (ACT).