This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.
We talk a lot on this blog about the problem of data silos, the pain of manual data entry (and re-entry), and how frustrating it is for producers, employees, and business partners to constantly deal with these issues.
If our previous arguments have not been convincing, I want to tell you a story that on the surface does not seem to have anything to do with insurance or your insurance business. But just humor me for a minute, and I think you’ll understand how it all works.
Almost two years ago I moved house. Never a fun endeavor, but I’ve moved at least a dozen times in my life and it’s never been this bad. It wasn’t the fact that the moving truck ran into our power line and knocked out the internet for a week. Nor was it that our new neighbors soon turned out to be busy taking all their lawn maintenance complaints to the county authorities.
It was the mail. The change of address form to be exact.
The problem is twofold:
First, we moved to a rural area where the post office does not deliver mail to the physical house address. If something doesn’t have our PO Box number on it, forget it. Since the post office doesn’t have an easy, fast, and automated way for our address to be linked to our box number, the staff simply refuse to do the job of redirecting our mail to our box.
This means that everything addressed to the home itself is returned to the sender as undeliverable. If you’re trying to imagine the number of important things we don’t get because someone had our physical address and not our PO Box, multiply that by 100 and you might be close.
Second, despite filing change-of-address forms (and yes, including PO Box numbers) with everyone from the Postal Service, to the IRS, to the state Department of Revenue, to the Department of Motor Vehicles, to the county treasurer, the county assessor, and more, mail is still being sent to our old address—or sometimes sent to our new address but without a box number, which means it is equally undeliverable.
The last time I got a letter that finally got to me thanks to the very kind new landlords of my former residence, I called the government entity to correct the address (again). I was really on edge with the poor lady on the phone who had to listen to me whine about all the times, and all the places, I’ve already filled in my new address in the last 18 months.
“How is it possible that you still have the wrong address for me?” I asked to know.
“I’m sorry. It’s just, the systems aren’t connected.”
It was at this point that I realized that there was a very large disconnect between my expectations as a consumer and the technical capabilities of every government agency I had to interact with as a citizen.
Are you starting to see the similarities between my tale of woe and what your staff, producers or insurance distributors might be going through? Just to be very clear, let’s break it down:
Manual-only processes: It’s possible that the producer license compliance people in your organization are tasked with some crazy manual processes. As cross-references between paper documents, spreadsheets and websites. It’s possible that they have to check things regularly because there’s no real-time way to instantly verify a producer’s license status.
All of this means that it’s possible, like my local postal workers, that they simply opt out of doing some manual work, or let things slide, or simply don’t have the time to get to it. Even if everyone takes the time to diligently work through these manual processes, they’re still prone to error, so you’re likely to get less than ideal levels of accuracy. Like when someone transferred the numbers for my mailbox and accidentally gave someone else a box of live wasp larvae meant to control the fly population on my farm.
Multiple, Different Systems: If you are an insurance company that contracts with many different agencies (or other intermediaries), or an insurance agency or MGA/MGU that contracts with many different producers, it is almost guaranteed that someone along your insurance distribution channel will enter the same information in more than one place. In fact, they probably provide the same information in more than two or three places. Not only is this frustrating for everyone involved, but it can lead to errors and oversights that can land your organization in compliance hot water.
No Single Source of Truth: Imagine the frustration of a licensed producer trying to update or correct any piece of information. Maybe it’s a new out-of-state license, or they just passed a licensing exam for a new line of government. How many different places do they have to enter this information? Depending on what it is, they may need to go to your company’s Human Resources Information System (HRIS), your Agency Management System (AMS), your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, your Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) system, their state insurance department and other regulatory agencies—just to mention a few! And since we don’t know what we don’t know, they will continue to molest with misinformation as long as it takes for every site containing that information to surface.
Now imagine, if this is how it is for a single producer, what it must be like for everyone in the distribution channel tasked with managing information for multiple producers. Do you have a headache yet?
In summary, the price you pay for sticking to manual, labor-intensive processes can include:
- Data that is out of date as soon as you check it
- Frustrated employees, producers and distribution partners
- Risk of compliance and regulatory mishaps
- Losing the best people to an organization that makes their jobs easy and painless
The great news is that AgentSync can help eliminate these problems for your insurance organization and its partners. On my end, I have no choice but to fill out forms for the fifty-first time and pray that the day will come when everyone who needs my address is right. You don’t know how much I would give to have a solution at hand that could make this problem go away faster than my ever-decreasing patience.
So for all the people who don’t have a solution to the problems of data silos, manual processes and outdated technology wherever they may be creeping up in life, don’t you owe it to yourself to check out AgentSync?