Putting your Tech Stack to work

Putting your Tech Stack to work

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Heath: Where is InsurTech headed next? This is where indie agents own the answer. Welcome to the Vertafore Insurance podcast. Let's go. Welcome to the Vertafore podcast. I'm the mayor, Heath Sharon, and the host of today's podcast, and I'm super pumped you're hanging out with us today because I've got my main man, Casey Nelson of Stackwise, hanging out. What's going on, Casey, how are you today?

Casey: Man, if I was any better, I'd be you. Things are good down here in Texas. We're under 100 degrees. We've been under a hundred degrees.

Business is good. Conference season is upon us, man. I'm. I'm just living the dream, man. Heath: That's awesome. Anytime you can get a hundred under 100 in Arkansas or in Texas, and you're

doing good, man. I came out here to Colorado, and it feels great out here. Casey: Oh, that's where you're at right now. That's that's probably a beautiful place this time of year, right? You got the mountains, you got the air, you got all the fun stuff to do outside. It's probably. Heath: Awesome. It's fantastic.

So let's let the audience know a little bit. Talk to me a little bit about who Casey Nelson is, what Stackwise is, how you came to where you are now. Let's give a little bit of that origin story.

Casey: Yeah, absolutely. So my origin story starts back in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I went to college, got a teaching degree from Western Michigan University, moved to Texas to get a teaching job because there were no jobs in Michigan and did that for a long time. Coached ball, did all this stuff.

And then through life as it is, I got another teaching job when we moved to Michigan, and the pay was not what I was hoping for, and got into insurance and then ran an insurance agency in McKinney for six years in Texas. And so that's where kind of like, I can stop going, like, you know, really broad. But in that agency, my job was to grow, the revenue was to grow the team.

And the team would then come to me and say, hey, this particular thing, I hate doing it, and I don't want to do it anymore, or can this thing be better? And I got to just embrace my inner nerd and my teacher skills, and I got to just dive into learn how to make programs work together and automate the things that my team says. You know, I don't know if we can swear or anything on this podcast. I probably shouldn't, but they had I can go for it. Oh, okay. Well, they were just like, man, this thing sucks. Like this particular.

That wasn't really a curse word, but maybe it'll get more exciting later. But but like we had like like the one, the one situation like I really remember that led to Stackwise is we would have a lead source that was sending in opportunities, and we had these two producers who every time a new lead came in, they would be like, is it mine or is it yours? Is it mine or is it yours? And then ten minutes later, when they called that person, they're gone, like it's over with. That opportunity is out the door. So we built a round robin workflow that assigned the leads automatically the instant they hit our inbox that started communicating and sent a ringless voicemail and a text in an email, and texted my producer on their cell phone that they got a new lead and they needed to call him ASAP.

So that workflow now takes me 15 minutes to build. And back then it probably took me five days. Yeah, because it's crazy, right? Yeah. So fast forward a little bit through some networks, people started asking me if I would jump on a zoom call. Hey, can you show me how to do this? Can you show me how to do that? And somebody just said, and here's where I'll swear.

They said, I wish I could just pay somebody to do this shit for me. And that was my light bulb moment. So that was where Stackwise came from, was the idea that agency owners have all these pieces of tech, and a lot of them get shiny object syndrome, and they buy them and they set up like ten, 20% of what that program can do. And then it's helping, but it might not be really helping. And so it ends up becoming just something they can't manage. And it makes their team inefficient and doesn't really get their team to trust technology. So Stackwise we come in.

We set up everything that they're already using to the fullest extent that we can. We automate processes to eliminate duplicate entry. We want to try to find errors in their processes and try to fix them through automation. And really that's that's my origin story. It's not as exciting as I want to make it sound, but it has been has been pretty cool because I got to marry my teaching career and I got to marry my my technology love and my insurance love all together in one. And it's been it's been super cool, man. I love helping people out.

Heath: Oh dude that's awesome. I love to hear your story. And it is exciting. And it's cool because, you know, you come from that insurance background. And so you've been in their seats, you've ran an agency.

So you know, the day to day challenges that producers go through, account managers go through, the agency owners go through. And like you said, you're able to take your nerdiness and your teaching and put that together. And the other thing you brought up I thought was interesting was and something I preach about too, is the shiny object syndrome is real.

And it is something that we've seen for several years now, but I think it's gotten even more, you know, prevalent lately because maybe it was the pandemic, maybe it's just where we're at in our industry, but there's a lot of that going on. And so for you to be able to connect those dots is pretty sweet. But I think one of the things that you and I have talked about in the past, but I think as we talk about tech stack and helping, you know, connect the dots there, I think your tech stack, yeah, you can talk about CRM, you can talk about AMS, you could talk about, you know, all of those things.

But I think it also has to do with your simple like your Outlook, your email, your website, things of that nature. Right? Casey: Right. Oh, absolutely. There are within the programs that people are already using.

And email is a perfect example because everyone has email, right? Like everyone has either Google or Outlook or whatever. But we set it up and we know that it's working. And then we're like, okay, cool.

This is a this is a thing that helps me receive information and send information. And it does. However, we all the time know, and a lot of us, at least half of us on this call, maybe both of us on this call. I get inundated with emails all the time, and then it becomes this insurmountable number of things I have to get through. And so we can use email rules that are already in your email provider to move those messages where they need to go quickly. So if if you know that there are certain messages that you get from a carrier that need to go to somebody else on your team, why are you actually forwarding that email and typing in so-and-so's email address versus, okay, let's set up a rule.

So anytime an email from that carrier comes in with this subject line your email send it to it needs to go to and you don't have to touch it. That's it feels really simple to me. And being in the weeds every day, like I think sometimes I lose touch of that too. And I think agency owners do as well, is that, you know, whether it's email rules, whether it's a way message.

This is something we've tried to encourage a lot of our clients to do lately is I think every agency should set an away message, automatic reply every time they're closed, not just when you're closed for like Labor Day or Christmas or whatever. When your office is closed at 430 or 5 or whatever time you close, everybody should have an automatic reply. And that automatic reply should say something to the effect of if you're a current customer and you need help or you need to request service, please click here. If you are looking for new insurance quote, please click here and we'll get in touch with you tomorrow when we open. And doing that also can alleviate a lot of back and forth service requests where you're playing phone tag or email tag indefinitely to get like a Vin or something.

And then also it can it can incentivize people to actually go to your website and use that to accept leads versus email, because if again, if you force not force, if you push leads to your website, then instead of so-and-so opening an email and having to add that client or that lead manually to a program, it's just going to happen automatically because it went through your website. So I think, yeah, I think that there's a lot that can be leveraged from current technology that agencies are using without necessarily even an integration tool. Heath: Yeah, I love that you bring up you know, we talked about website because I see a lot of agencies that take a take for granted the website or they think I don't need to worry about it, I don't need to update it, or they haven't updated since 2005 when they set it up. But they're still in your opinion.

And what you're saying, if I'm hearing you saying this right is there's still a lot of power in that website, even though people are doing social, even though people are doing other things, people still go to websites. Casey: Oh, absolutely. And the thing is, so I think that a lot of times, you know, you think of in the insurance agency space, you've got like, everyone's going to have a management system and everyone's probably going to have a CRM. And most people think that, like, that's those are the two building blocks.

And I like to think of the building blocks more like a pyramid or like a trinity of insurance technology or whatever is you got throw the website in there. Because the website, the AMS and the CRM, those three points can really take care of a lot of automation processes because your website can act as a point guard. So big sports guy, I know you're a sports guy. People listen to this or sports guys. But like whether you want to call your website the point guard or the quarterback or the offensive coordinator or whatever, I don't know. But just think of anything where we can accept new data and push it to wherever we need it to go. We can steer clients back to your website at renewal time to fill out

renewal questionnaires, get them on the record, making sure that you're cross-selling business, but also you're covering your your info because you're asking every single year, hey, do you have a boat? Do you have an RV? Do you have a rental home? Like all these things, you have to get them on the record. Are you driving for a rideshare company? Those kinds of things. But but leveraging your website for for sorry for leads that are inbound for service requests and then also for renewals. I mean, those are three really easy things to do that drive people to your website. So they see your brand so they're used to it.

And then if they leave your agency and then they're accustomed to what you've done, and the new agent is just like, yeah, email me any changes. You know, they're going to feel that difference in professionalism real quick. And it's going to plant the seed of like, maybe I shouldn't have left, you know, Heath Heath's agency or Casey's agency or whatever. Heath: Okay, so let's put this down on the bottom shelf for agents to understand. Could you give kind of a good example, the best example, because you gave a couple of use cases there, high level. But give me an example of something.

Just somebody right now listening could set up right now within their website or have set up in their website. Casey: Yeah. Okay. Sure. So I think the first thing that I would leverage a website for, if I was an agency owner and I was not making use of it now, um. I would add a service request form, because most websites that we've seen that are either built by insurance agency vendors or by the local web provider in your town, which is cool if you can support them too. But there's like a contact us form and a lead form, right? In most cases, when that website comes out of the box, well, the contact us to me doesn't mean anything like who the hell contacts you like, Heath: Right. Casey: That's stupid. Right?

I'm sorry. It's just it's useless. I'm not going to go to my insurance agency if I'm. If I'm a customer, I'm not going to go there and be like, oh, contact us. Yes, I'm going to contact, you know, like be clear with the call to action, you know, click here to submit service requests. Click here for questions.

Click here to request a change. Like be direct with your call to action. And then also invest a little time or or contact us and we'll we'll send you a form like but but use the form builder within your website to really collect the data. You need to complete service requests. Heath: So for example an endorsement to add a vehicle. Is that what you're talking about? Casey: Yeah for sure.

So somebody goes to your website. They click on the service request form. You're going to say okay what policy do you need to service home auto just for. For starters they click auto. You say cool. What do you need to do here. The most common things updated driver remove a car add a car whatever.

And then the next screen says, you know, this is the information we're going to need, VIN driver year make model all that stuff so that when they they hit submit you have everything you need to make the change. Heath: That's that's good. That's a good use case. That's a great idea. And so that's them using their website as their home base, their their headquarters to get that done. Then from there when they hit submit, you could set it up to where it'll go

straight to an inbox or go, can you set up to go to your AMS? Can you set it up? What can you do it from it from there. Casey: So on the most basic level, what you could do is you could set it up so that that form submission triggers all that information to go to a specific person on your team who handles those types of requests. Right. That's that's like okay, cool. That's the starting point. It's got to do that. So then the second level is okay, let's make sure that that information gets added as a service request in whatever system you're using. So if you're using your CRM to track service, then that submission needs to create a service request in your CRM connected to that clients account.

If you're using something else that you've developed on your own, which I've seen some really cool ones. So I'm not bashing people that use sheets. There are some insanely incredible sheets out there that that are almost like a CRM in and of themselves. So for those of you listening that have spent time on your sheets like good on you, there's an easier way, but good on you.

Um, so just the point of that is just wherever you track your service requests, that form submission needs to create a service request, you know? So so I think there's there's the starting point is you've got to notify somebody, but a better a better result is that we actually move that data where it needs to go into who it needs to go to, so that service request can be completed on time. Heath: And that can all connect into your arms as well and all of that. So like they're doing all the work for you pretty much the client is. Yeah. But there's got to be a level of training for that, for the customer experience and that customer journey.

And you know, you and I talked about this a little bit prior. But you know, there's a lot of agencies that you know, they they don't necessarily lay that out, you know, in a way that they they leave too much control in the client's hands. The way I look at it. And so you're saying you should lay out the expectations a little bit more with your clients and talk to me a little bit about that. Casey: Yeah. What you the keyword you just said there is expectations.

And we as an insurance industry and even though I'm not selling insurance, I'm I still count myself as part of the industry. Yeah. We do a bad job at setting the expectations for our customers. And I can speak to that from experience, both at the agency I was at and also with Stackwise like, that's a that's a failure on our part too is like, I, I did not do a good enough job there. But what setting expectations for your customers will do is really, truly allow you to be more profitable per customer. So the onboarding sequence from whatever program you're using needs to communicate that you are a professional and not an order taker, and maybe not in those terms, but that's the message that needs to be sent to your new customer.

Your producers need to tell your new customers on the phone what the expectations are. Once you buy this policy, you know, like, and if if somebody doesn't like those expectations, then they're not your ideal client and they're going to end up being more expensive and you're going to make less money on that client than you would any other client. So from an onboarding perspective, what I encourage is to take a more direct approach with what you want your clients to do in certain situations and try to train them to do it. So.

Clients aren't kids. But think about it in the same way as I think about my kids. Heath: Right on. Casey: When I get frustrated with my kids for doing or not doing something that does not meet my expectations. If I realize that I've never communicated my expectations to them, how on earth do I have any business being upset with them? If I never said, you need to do this when this happens, or I expect you to do that when this other thing happens. But, you know, it's crazy.

Like, where are they supposed to read my mind, you know? Are your customers supposed to read your mind? And so in that, in that onboarding process, you need to very clearly, explicitly communicate this is how you request a policy change. This is how you add a vehicle. We how many agencies pay for these amazing technology, these amazing insurance apps.

Right. The communicate with their AMS that will provide ID cards. It will do all this other cool stuff that even let you submit service requests. But what I see is a lot of communication to new customers saying like, hey, we have this cool app, it'd be awesome if you download it. That doesn't get you anywhere. It needs to be. As a client of Insurance Town Insurance Agency, you need to download this app. This app is how you communicate with us.

This app is how you pay your bill. This app is how you get ID cards. This app is how you, you know, like lay it out for them very clearly that the expectation is that you will do this. And if they're not, then they're not your ideal client. They're going to end up costing you more money down the road.

So really ramping up your onboarding campaign to set expectations for your clients, I think, sets you up to be more profitable down the road. And that's that's another thing that goes in with with everything that we've been doing for our customers. Heath: Yeah, I think it starts with the sales process.

And you brought that up earlier. If you could lay that out as part of the sales process, when you bring on a new client, you train your producers or your account managers to say, okay, here's what's next. You know, people like to know what's coming next, you know, to be able to say, okay, once we buy this, you're going to get a call from Sally, my account manager, and she's going to do this. And then what we're going to want to do is set you up with your login and your password. We're going to show you how to submit a request, whatever it might be, and walk them through. Is that what you're you're walking through as well? Casey: Yeah. And there's, there's so many different ways to do it.

Right. You could you could actually have a CSR or an account manager or the producer like call them. Right. That could be part of your onboarding campaign as it launches a task to call them. And on that call, you have the responsibility to walk them through

setting up the app or registering for the the whatever system you want them to use, or show them the exact link on your website where they're going to need to go to submit service requests or access their policy documents. Like we can't. We can't just like throw an email at them and like be like, all right, we're good, right? They're not going to read it. Um, and we're never going to a, you know, a thousand on this. We're not. But if we can get more, I think the goal should be at least 50% of new business clients each month.

If you're using an app, at least 50% of all new business should be downloading that app and or registering for it within 30 days. Then you have, you know, different touch points for preexisting customers that you may have to have a different campaign for. But I think. You know, sometimes people get stuck looking at like, well, I've got 2000 clients and they've always been doing it this way.

They've always texted when they needed help or they've. Well, communicate to them that that's changed. Communicate to them that, you know, in order to be as efficient as possible and give them the best service as possible.

Like we need to change the way we're doing things and, and be willing to to answer some tough questions from some customers. But ultimately, if you're not pushing in all of your leads through one portal or 11. of entry, your service through one port of entry, then you're kind of just like grabbing at everything, because a lot of people say like, well, just get in touch with me. Like we we check Facebook and we check Instagram and we watch like, okay, cool.

Like you're going to miss stuff. You're going to miss stuff like, don't do that. Like has to go through one point of entry. And that's true.

I'm getting off on on a soapbox here. But like that's true for your service team as well. So if a service request can be created by a customer through a website form on your website, then your service team should be using that same form when they're talking to somebody on the phone and they are taking down a service request. That way nothing gets lost because if it didn't go through that, that point of entry, it didn't happen.

Heath: Yeah and I love the soapbox that you're on right now. I think it's great. And I think you're on in a good place here talking about like you said, one leg of the stool, talking about the website, talking about service and talking about some of those things. You know, the quarterback, the headquarters, the point guard, whatever you want to talk about. Because I think there's not enough agencies doing that. And I think talking about that's going to really spark some interest here in people talking about that, because I think people overlook the website. I think you're 100% correct in that.

And people, you know, they don't think about that enough and how they can use that to empower themselves. And they don't walk through their customers through what that journey looks like. And I it's an old one, but I use the example of Chick-fil-A or even Starbucks for that matter. You know, when you go through a chick fil A line, exactly what you're going to get.

I mean, you know, you're going to get, you know, the greeting you want. They're going to get your food right. They're going to say, you know, my pleasure at the end, you know, the exact no matter if you're in Arkansas, Texas or Colorado, all the chick fil A's, you're going to get the same service, same thing with a Starbucks usually. And there's a reason why those those companies are so successful. And I think your agency could be the same way.

So one of the things you also brought up the second leg of the stool, so to speak, would be either either the CRM or the AMS. So for this we'll start with the AMS. So talk to me a little bit about, you know, what you're seeing and maybe the best ways that you're seeing agencies using their AMS and how they could do better at that from a CTOs perspective. Casey: Sure. And there's a really wide range of what an AMS system can do from vendor to vendor. So in a very broad way, what we're seeing is of course, an agency management system is responsible to take the carrier downloads and have correct policy information because, you know, most CRMs, in fact, almost all CRMs that I can think of off the top of my head would be a bad place for your account manager to go if someone called in after a wreck and was like, what's my deductible? Right? That that information doesn't live there. Now, you might have a document saved in there that has it.

But like, you know, if you go to the AMS, you're going to see Casey's policy has $500 deductible and roadside and rental reimbursement, boom, boom, boom, boom boom. And you can just tell me on the phone and I now know. So I think the EMS from from a usability standpoint, what we're seeing is some of the back of the house people that maybe are more on the accounting side, account or commission, reconciliation, stuff like that, like they're using the AMS a lot because that's just where that data lives.

It's where it's added from the carrier. It's just where they need to be. But I think that most people in agencies now that are client facing or lead facing are really spending the majority of their time in their CRM because that's where the communication is occurring, and that's where also the pipeline generally lives.

I mean, some systems do have a pipeline function or something like that, but for the most part, I think that in a traditional agency or in a no, I shouldn't say traditional in an agency that's trying to leverage technology as efficiently as possible. I think they're spending 80 to 90% of their time working out of their CRM and not their AMS, but their AMS is is super important for documentation. It's super important for carrier downloads. Some AMS systems will allow us to trigger automations when you do certain things inside of them. Right? So if you if you change a client to, let's say, add a tag that there's a pending cancel notice from the carrier, then just the action of adding that tag can actually then create other workflows or trigger other workflows in other systems.

So I think that it's a super instrumental part of it, but I do think that the CRM functionality is pulling more people in an agency away from using the AMS as much and more more of their time is spent in their CRM. Heath: Yeah, I understand where you're coming from there, and I agree with you. I do think what you were talking about with AMS is more of internal functionality, of communicating within your team and trying to keep some of that going.

And I know a lot of agencies that they don't even give their producers a login to their AMS, because that's more of, like you said, a service functionality or even, you know, the the C-suite level execs there or people working within that. And I was reaching I've recently been working on a project with within the agency management systems within Vertafore and trying to figure out where agencies most use their AMS. And there's so many different answers I've gotten out of that from accounting to some of the service stuff you've talked about to, you know, documentation to all kinds of different things. And so I think there's so many different functionalities within the AMS that even agencies now still don't use to the best capability. Going back to what you had mentioned in your intro about people that complain about this, AMS sucks or this product sucks or that sucks, but they're not using it to the 100% capabilities. And I I'm sure that that's a lot of the calls that you get when they say

such and such agency management system sucks. And you're like, wait a minute, are you using it to its fullest capacity? Are you seeing that? Are you still seeing a lot of that? In what areas do you see the most that they're not using it where you could be like, it doesn't suck. Let me show you some really cool functions that most AMS systems do. Casey: Yeah, that's a great question. Um, so with the AMS side of things, we've we don't see so much of the, the situation where somebody is, is frustrated with their AMS.

And then we realize, oh, well, you never set up this feature or this system or whatever. We do see it sometimes, but we don't see it that often because the AMS is really I don't want to say it's like ready out of the box. That's not true. But it's it does what it's supposed to do really well without a lot of

human involvement. But what we have seen caused problems for people is when they don't use a management system the way it was intended to be used, and then that creates huge problems. Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Like and I'm not trying to throw anybody under the bus. I'm not mentioning names. And these are all people I care about. But like when when you have an agency structure such that every policy owner is the agency owner and then you make the producer like the CSR? Yeah, that happens a lot.

And then when you want to connect your AMS to another platform or tool, it's like a huge cluster mess. Like it's really hard to get out of that. So what I would encourage people to do is like, if you're changing AMS systems for whatever reason or you're starting an agency, like please use it as intended. I promise that if if somebody else's name is the the the assigned agent to a policy like it will be okay if it's not yours, like they're not going to steal the business. Like I don't know why people do it if they think it makes it easier, but it's going to create problems down the road for sure. Heath: Yeah and I also think another thing that I see a lot of in agencies, I've stepped in and even going back to my agency owner days is getting everyone to use it the same way. I think if you've got a staff of, let's say, 20 or even 10 or 5, all five, ten, 15, 20, people are probably going to use it different ways.

Unless you're intentional about here's how we do this. Here's our process. Casey: Oh, so. I think there's a ton of insurance agencies out there that were started by 1 or 2 people, and they were just like, I got to sell. I got to sell. I got to get revenue in the door, like, let's go bingo.

And then they grind and they grind and they find a producer and they grind and they grind and they find an account manager, and they grind and they grind and they look back five years later and holy shit, I got a $4 million book of business. And it's held together by, like, duct tape and prayers and. Heath: Right. Yeah. Casey: And it's like it could come down at any moment because they never invested the time in training and developing processes. It was always just like, how can I sell this as fast as possible? How can I get this done as fast as possible? So I think that that whole anecdote was just to say that like, yes, like we have to do better at training our staff. Again, expectations should be like the keyword of this episode, maybe because expectations of your staff are critical and people sometimes get afraid.

Get afraid. They are afraid of their staff. Sometimes, like I have a key staff member who they do it this way, but I need them to do it that way. But if I piss them off, they might leave. And then what am I going to do? And it's like, well. I understand that hesitation, but the compounding of the problem from years and years of doing it in two different ways, or one way wrong or one way right, is going to create massive problems. So like there are training tools out there that are free that I would really recommend people use. Like tango is an awesome one.

Tango is free. I'm not getting anything for saying that. I hope that doesn't step on anybody's toes at Vertafore. But like tango is awesome and you can create screen automatic screenshot workflows to give to your team. Hey, when this happens, this is the process. And if you have any questions, look it up.

Heath: Awesome, awesome. Casey: There's I mean, a lot of people use Loom or Zoom or whatever too. And those are those are great.

But yeah. And while I'm on the soapbox, one of the other issues with. Having everybody in your agency do things the same way can be the objections and the resistance of the team, because that's not the way we've always done it. This is harder. I don't like it. This doesn't feel right.

So not to like, try to act like a Jedi master or anything, but like, you've got to invest time in making them think it's their idea. Hey, like, sit down with them in a room and say, I need you guys to come up with a list of three things that suck that you just hate doing. Okay? They're going to come up with nine things. Some of them, you know, or whatever. You know, and and then and then you can say, okay, cool.

Like how would this particular process be better? Like what could we do to improve it? And now it's become their idea, and now their buy in and their adoption is going to be significantly higher because you're taking their idea and trying to make it a reality versus you coming up with a solution and pushing it on them. Because people are all about automation that happens for them. They're not about automation that happens to them. Heath: Yeah, you're 100% correct.

Casey: Yeah. Like so. So getting their buy in on the front end by help. And also truthfully like you should in my opinion get their input because unless you're doing the same thing they're doing day to day, like let's hear from the people that are actually doing it to decide what the process could be or how it could be better. Heath: Well, and I think once they have. Casey: Buy in, it's there.

Heath: Yeah, I think that ownership is a big part of it. I think you're right. Going back to what you had said earlier about those agencies that were set up by the owner that just felt like they had to hunt and sell every day. They've lost touch with, you know, and they just done it the way it's always been done because they don't know any other way. So if you can get that buy in from Sally, CSR from account Manager Amy or whoever it might be, you know, producer Paul, to bring them into it too. You know, you never know until you ask them and get them involved.

And once they get into it and I say the same thing with other technology outside of the three legged stool or the Trinity you talked about, if you bring on, say, Canopy Connect or you bring on some other, you know, I don't know, lost runs or whatever, it may be something else. And you have one of the staff members to learn that and train the rest of the team. I think getting the buy in from that is going to be huge as well. Or if you bring on AgencyZoom as your CRM or you bring on anything like that, if you get the buy in from staff and have them do the training and have them be the point person, I think that's going to be a huge, you know, crucial part of the agency in the growth in that to. Casey: So I love that idea and I'm so glad you said it, even though we didn't talk about it like I shot you. That mental note that. Heath: I Was with you there.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Casey: I shot it straight to you. Um I love that model. I love that model of how you say, like, okay, we're going to we're going to buy this new program that's going to solve this particular problem that we know our staff is having, whether it's Canopy Loss or Pro adapt like whatever.

Yeah. And and so you, you sit down with somebody who's been working their ass off, who's hitting their numbers, and they're a leader on your team. And you're like, listen, I see you. I see what you're doing. I see that people respond to you and I appreciate what you're doing.

I'm going to ask you to take on this small extra responsibility. I want you to be the go to person anytime anybody has a question about program ABC. But you've got to give them something.

You've got to give them 500 bucks. You've got to give them something. Because I have seen this happen before, and I've witnessed it happen before where someone, instead of being complimented with their their work and asked if they'll take on an extra responsibility, they're not given anything extra for that responsibility, and it ends up completely backfiring. And I don't know why it happened, why I know why that happens, but I don't know why people aren't willing to say like, hey, for this extra time that I know you'll spend some extra time, here's an extra 500 bucks a month or 250 stipend or whatever, or a one time bonus of $1,000.

Like, I don't know, the numbers don't work. Or it could be even something. Yeah, it could even be an extra day off.

An extra week off, you know, it could be anything. Yeah, yeah. So I think you're right, incentivizing them to do that I think is a big help too. Yeah I love that you bring that up too.

And that, you know, we're on the same page there with that because I do think that's going to help you in your agency to adopt and to get that adoption from or change management even. And that could be a whole nother thing. But, you know, the other thing I wanted to bring up and I want to hear your thoughts on, because you brought up the CRM and the AMS and the website. One of the biggest challenges that I hear since I've been here at Vertafore is people think. That the AMS and the CRM are one and the same or they, you know, they'll say, oh,

I've got a CRM, I don't need an AMS, or I've got an AMS, I don't need a CRM. And like you said, using it for what it's intended for. Do you see that a lot to. Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

I see a lot of people. There are AMS systems. There are management systems that have CRM ish functions. Right. Like they'll, they'll they'll do certain things in an automated way, or they

might have some kind of a sales tool or whatever. And there are some that actually do. There are two that. Heath: Sure. Casey: That have, I think, crossed that bridge to where they have a management system and a CRM or a management system with actual CRM functionality. But there's only two that I know of, and the rest of them, I think are siloed in their lanes, which I don't think that's a bad thing.

I know staying in your lane can sometimes be like a negative, a negative phrase, but like, yeah. Heath: But I hear you, Casey: You know your lane and you're great at what you do in your lane. Then like stay in your lane and get even better at it and partner with vendors that have the lane next to you. To that you want, but you understand it's not cost effective.

You're not good at it. Partner with them and we have seen more of that lately. Like there are vendors lately who we have seen. Ice is thawing a little bit, and I think they're understanding that if they don't play nice with others, they're going to lose significant market share to those vendors that will play nice with others because there is a explosion happening in ancillary or complementary insurance technologies.

Heath: 100%. Casey: Are changing the way agencies can do business. And if you're a management system or a CRM that does not play nice with either Zapier or some other connector, or directly with those vendors, like you're probably going to get left in the dust. And frankly, if you're an agency and you're using a management system that is not going to play nice with others, or has said that they're going to for 18 months and hasn't. I don't want to tell you how to change management systems. That's not my place. But like, you're going to find yourself in a really bad spot, and

it's going to happen a lot sooner than you think. Heath: Yeah. And so going back to, you know, some of the things we've talked about throughout this podcast, some of things you've brought up, one of the things I was shocked about, even whether I'm speaking at an event or here at Vertafore, is there's a lot more agencies that you and I don't think about that don't have a CRM. And I was shocked by that when I first found that out, because we, you and I, we take for granted. We just think, oh, every agency has a CRM, but they don't. And so or again, they'll think that it's the same as AMS or they don't need one or the other. So talk to me about like for those that are listening that are on the fence

about should I get a CRM or not, maybe talk about what you think the best no matter what the CRM is, just the idea of a CRM, you know, let's talk about the CRM as a whole. Like maybe sell an agency right now and why they should have one. Casey: Absolutely. So.

One of the main reasons I would recommend a CRM to an insurance agency is that you can you can use one platform for so many different things, so your team doesn't have to toggle between this tab and that tab, or this window and that window and all this other stuff. Like with a CRM, in most cases, you're going to be able to view leads, manage a pipeline, have automated communications, send manual communications. It's like if somebody replies to an automated email, you're already in the CRM, you just boom. You just send manage service tasks, you can manage documents, you can

manage birthdays, you can manage like all of these things all in one platform. So just to eliminate the continual switching between platforms and copying and pasting and all this other stuff, I think that's a huge reason to have a CRM. Also, it means that everybody else on your team can see what's happened with that customer or that lead, and that exists within management system as well.

But I think that it's even more convenient when it's all in that same one platform that you're able to do things with. Secondarily. The second thing that I think is super critical to having a CRM is making sure that you have a CRM that will automatically recycle old leads, and most CRMs will do that. But a lot of agencies don't take the time to make sure that that set up properly, so that it is actually recycling these leads and communicating with them over the 6 to 8 months or whatever it is after they've said thanks, but no thanks until their next renewal.

And management systems typically aren't going to do that unless you or your producers go in there and manually set a task to get back in touch with this lead in seven months or whatever. And sometimes that happens. A lot of times it doesn't. And even if it does happen and that task is set, is it being executed in seven months or is it just going to turn into a red number in the top right of your screen.

Heath: Right. Casey: So. A CRM takes the forgetting out of insurance sales. Heath: I like that. I like that. Casey: Like, if you use it correctly, you know, like you just do what's on your to do list. You communicate with who is responded.

You add new leads to the pipeline and you let the CRM do its thing. Your time or in this case, the producer or even the CSR. If we're talking about the service side of things, the account manager, I would want their time spent generating revenue and creating deeper relationships with my customers, not busywork.

Heath: I love that you said that again. I sent you that. We're on ESPN right here. So. Casey: Yeah. We're there, we're. Heath: There. Yeah. The CRM for those that don't know what a CRM stand for. Casey: Customer relationship manager.

Heath: Customer relationship manager. You're exactly right. And so if you could use your CRM to do the things that, you know, the back, half the back office stuff, the things that you know are taking up your staff's time and now your staff can build that relationship and they can build that, you know, spend time doing things that matter. Because I still think one of the things that Covid taught us is we still need relationship. We still need connection.

We still need a lot of those things. And, you know, I think there's so much more of that even now. So if you can use technology to be able to aid you in doing that, it's not replacing humans. It's helping you to to communicate better and build a relationship better. Right. Casey: Right. Absolutely. And I've heard and been a part of so many discussions where it's like, hey, how much premium should an account manager be able to manage effectively, or how much, how many sales, how many leads should my producer be able to handle and manage effectively? And whatever that number is, you're going to be able to multiply it if you effectively use a CRM. Yeah, like if you think a account manager can handle a million.

You effectively roll out a CRM and some processes to collect service requests. And they should be managing 2 million. And I don't know what the number really should be, but sure. The CRM also gives you the data you need to know if you actually do need to hire or not. Like like this is one of my favorite sports things I've been using lately. So love it when you and you and I were kids.

Okay, so when you and I were kids, who is your who was your baseball team back then? Did you like the Braves? Heath: Red Sox? Casey: The Red Sox, okay. I don't know who the Red Sox manager. When you was, when you were a kid anyway. So go.

Heath: With Braves and. Casey: Red Sox pitcher. Okay. Braves. I was going to Bobby Cox just. Heath: Because Bobby Cox. There you go.

Casey: Bobby Cox is like like he's the manager I remember from my youth for whatever reason because the Braves just dominated. So Bobby Cox is sitting in Turner Field in 1996. And John Smoltz is out there in the seventh inning. And Bobby Cox has to manage John Smoltz from his gut. Does he have any juice left? What's he throwing? Are people hitting him? Bobby Cox just had to know, right? He just had to have intuition in his eyes. Now, whoever the heck the Braves manager is, I'm sorry. I should know who that is, but I don't.

He's got data. He knows the spin rate. He knows the velocity.

He knows how many times this guy has seen him. He has all the information he needs to make the decision whether or not to pull his pitcher. And it's not a guess anymore. Like it's. I'm using data to make this decision. Insurance agencies are like, I think I need another agency manager or account manager.

Okay, cool. Why? Like. Well, I think I think so-and-so is underwater. You think or, you know. Like, Heath: Yeah. Casey: What are they spending their time doing? And I'm not and I'm not accusing the account, this hypothetical account manager, of doing anything wrong. I'm just saying they're probably doing their job to the best of their ability. But like, let's give them tools to be more efficient.

Let's give them tools to handle more stuff. They don't need to be sending an email to everybody when they complete a service request the account, the CRM can do that for them. Yeah. You know, like, hey. Heath: I think you're 100% correct. And they used to be that old rule of thumb is one staff per billion dollars in premium or something to that effect. And now it's like they could handle a lot more because of some

of the technology aspects and whatnot. And man, I have truly enjoyed. And here we are looking at, you know, before we wrap up, though, I did want to give you some time. Why don't you tell the audience a little bit about Stackwise a little bit. And if they, you know, what you guys do and what it does, and if they want to get in touch with you or anything like that, could you just maybe tell me a little bit about Stackwise? Casey: Yeah, absolutely. So Stackwise we work with independent insurance agencies, and we want to be your partner in making sure that you've maximized the use of the current technology that you have, and also act as a consultant to help you add to your stack. If there's a place where you feel like you need some help.

We have great relationships with a lot of insurance technology companies. We are building new automations and new integrations for some of these companies. We're testing some of their automations and integrations that they're building. They're coming to us and saying like, hey, how would your clients use this? What would you do with it? Give us your feedback, those kinds of things. So we kind of have an inside lane to some of the vendors at this point, which has been really cool and very helpful because we also want to help the vendors, because we want the vendors that are selling their products to get, you know, clients that are using the most and happy with the software that they're purchasing. That's not really part of the sales pitch, I guess, except to say that we take a very collaborative approach with our customers where when we develop something for a customer, if it's like their secret sauce, we're not sharing, like, I'm not, you know, someone's got to like, like, like hypnotic hypnosis campaign that like, gets everybody to buy insurance. Like we're not sharing that.

But if we figure out how to move data in a new way and we it moves the needle for that agency, we're going to give that, we're going to push that out to the other agencies that use the. So a perfect example would be the document intake feature within one of the CRMs, right? Most people didn't even know that was there and we started asking for permission. We got access. We started to realize like, oh my gosh, like we can add a PDF automatically to a lead or a customer. And in some cases, both the CRM and the AMS from any form that's submitted, or can it be pulled that's completed like we were like we surprised ourselves. Like, oh my gosh. So then anybody who uses those programs, the next time we're on a call

with them, we're like, hey, guess what? We figured out how to do? Do you want it? And they're like, yeah, cool, we want it. So as we grow more clients and we provide more back end service, we're always trying to find new ways to provide value for them as the technology updates, as new programs come into the market, and we want to make sure that we're a good resource for them, because what we found is sometimes like the shiny object syndrome is a big deal. Heath: Yeah. Casey: Big deal. But what's also a big deal is sometimes insurance agency owners need to

communicate with the vendors, and the support team on the vendors are great, but they're not insurance agents. Right. And the insurance agents aren't tech people. And so there's a there's a like a language barrier, like a, like a disconnect there. And what we can do is we can also be the go between between those two. Like I can explain to the vendor why this is important, and I can explain to the insurance agency owner, like why what this thing is that they want maybe isn't possible, but this other workaround is.

Yeah. So we do consulting calls every other week with all of our customers. We manage all of their insurance technology software, we manage their automated workflows. And then we also do a lot of custom work where like if they hire, they fire all the workflows need to be updated, website needs to be updated, blogs need to be updated. Those kinds of things, we want to just we want to just be the jack of all trades for them. Heath: That's awesome man. I appreciate you hanging out with me today and hanging out with the Vertafore Insurance podcast listeners and just being here with us, man.

You know, we'll we'll catch up soon. But man, I appreciate everything, man. Casey: Hey, you're the best. I appreciate the opportunity. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon and wish you all the best. Dude, this is great.

Heath: Yeah, dude, have a good one. Well, that was a great episode. Sydney: Amazing. It was an amazing episode. Heath: I really enjoyed that content. Guys, if you enjoyed that content and you want more of it, make sure you hit the subscribe button.

Sydney: Nah, dude. You got to tell him to crush it. Crush that subscribe button, guys. Heath: All right, whether you want to crush it, smash it, hit it, Sydney: Bop it.

Heath: Sure, we could bop it either way, guys, we don't want you to miss another episode. We enjoy spending time with you. The VIP. Sydney: Yeah, we'll see you next week.

2024-01-05 14:16

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