(Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Michael Petersheim, United States Marine Corps.)
Independent agents and agency channel partners are a key source of revenue for insurance companies and agencies, providing a way to generate more business and meet rising demand. The ability to efficiently ramp up the company’s revenue-generating capacity will become even more important as the insurance industry’s agent population keeps growing at a rate of about 10 percent annually, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate.
Because it can be a complex process, onboarding is a persistent obstacle to quickly getting from agent recruiting to revenue production in the insurance industry, which has a turnover rate of approximately 40 percent per year. Streamlining the process with technology can get new agents onboard faster, but what should insurance companies and agencies look for in an onboarding solution? Here are six essential factors:
- Choose a single credentialing solution: One of the most challenging aspects of onboarding is coordinating numerous processes across multiple systems—making sure the solution can integrate with e-sign, background checks and learning and development systems. A flexible solution that enables users to set up custom requirements, track license and appointment expiration notices and easily complete other core functions is essential.
- Make sure it can adapt to multiple workflows: An onboarding system typically needs to address multiple workflows, so look for a system that can handle a variety of use cases and that users can configure to fit their unique needs.
- Look for customization capabilities: In the insurance industry, regulations and contract terms change frequently. Companies and individual agencies often need to send out advisories or legal notices or update contracts. With a customizable onboarding solution, companies can quickly address these issues and reduce workloads with automation.
- Select a system that minimizes IT involvement in setup and administration: Since insurance companies and agencies typically work with multiple partners, it makes sense to choose a solution that doesn’t require IT involvement with every rollout in a new agency or whenever there’s a change request. A simple solution gives marketing and operations greater control.
- Keep the agent interface simple: A low agent touchpoint usually yields faster onboarding by reducing the opportunities for bottlenecks in the process. Look for a system that streamlines agent involvement, and make sure the interface is simple and direct so that agents who aren’t as tech-savvy don’t get intimidated. With a simple, integrated solution, companies can also eliminate multiple agent ID numbers.
- Consider a cloud-based solution: One of the key challenges insurance companies and agencies face during the onboarding process is data silos—information kept in various repositories that are inaccessible to the company as a whole. With a cloud-based solution, companies can break down silos and better manage data. They can use the specific features they need to complete their tasks.
A recent PwC report on the top issues the insurance industry faces in 2015 includes the need to incorporate “business intuitive” solutions and leverage technology to improve efficiency. By choosing the right onboarding solution, insurance companies and agents can move to revenue more quickly by streamlining the agent qualification process. They can also deliver a better experience for agents and process administrators, building momentum as a modern company that is aligned with 21st century capabilities.