5 Ways Insurance Agencies Can Improve Email Communication with Clients
According to McKinsey, the average professional spends almost 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to emails—28% of the entire work week. Insurance agents are no exception—email is an important part of their job. Unfortunately, the more time and energy agents spend on administrative email communication, the less they can spend on being a trusted adviser for their clients.
Consider the traditional way an agency communicates via email with the insured:
- Compiling bulky emails to send to the insured. An agency has to fill out emails with dozen-plus attachments and write a long list of directions during the renewal process.
- Drafting/sending email reminders. In addition to the first email, an agent continually has to write and send emails to remind the insured to fill out their insurance forms.
- Sorting through email threads. As the insured responds with questions, attachments, etc., the agent has to ensure that they don’t miss any important emails in the process.
- Worrying whether an attached application, spreadsheet, or document is the most current version. Emailing documents back and forth with the insured poses this risk.
This traditional email process is a hotbed of E&O and miscommunication.
At the same time, 86% percent of professionals name email as their favorite way to communicate. Of course, email itself is not inherently bad. It’s just that the way you use email needs improvements—so you can spend less time on busywork and more time on improving the customer experience.
Below are five actionable ways that your agency can start improving your email processes today.
1. Manage Client Applications and Renewals in an Online Portal
Modern agencies are now decreasing their dependency on email by leveraging tools and software that streamline the application and renewal process. One excellent solution is an online portal—a central location—where you can digitally store and manage applications and renewals.
Consider it a “hub” where all of your clients’ documents live. When you move all of your client’s applications and renewals to an online portal, you can manage everything right within this location. It’s also easy for insureds to access all of their documents in one place which alleviates the dependency on email.
With an online portal, you no longer need to create bulky emails filled with attachments and detailed instructions for applications and renewals. Instead, since everything is stored in a digital format in one online location, you can send a single link to your insureds for them to login and access everything that you would previously have to craft into an email.
Or, instead of spending time writing tedious follow-up emails to clients who are dragging their feet, you can use the online portal to send auto-reminders for you. The entire application process becomes more streamlined and easier for both you and the client.
Use this online portal as the foundation for the rest of the email communication strategies listed below.
2. Send a Single Link.
The traditional email process for the agency isn’t easy, particularly during the client-renewal process. From writing a long list of instructions to going to extensive lengths to format an email, it takes effort to send an application to the insured.
For the insured, a long, bulky email can be intimidating. And considering that the average time spent reading an email is 11.1 seconds, you don’t have a lot of time to capture the insured’s attention. Emails need to be concise and immediately let the insured know how to complete the application.
These cumbersome emails can be replaced with a better process. Leverage your online portal to manage all of your client’s insurance applications and forms in a single, secure, online platform. By moving the application and renewal process online, your client can access and fill out all of their insurance forms online with a single, secure link.
This will alleviate the need for having to send all of this information over in an email. You no longer will spend time attaching dozens of documents to an email, drafting long-winded directions and checklists. You now send your client an email with one single link which gives them access to everything they need online.
Send a single link to clients that takes them directly to all their applications and insurance forms in an online portal.
This approach takes the tedious email communication process and streamlines it. It alleviates the need for agents to send bulky submissions to the insured via personal email. The insured no longer has to feel overwhelmed by the number of directions and attachments.
3. Automate Reminders.
With the traditional agent-to-insured email process, you have to draft and send emails reminding insureds to complete their insurance forms and applications. Maybe you schedule an alert in Google Calendar that will prompt you to send these reminders. Maybe instead of writing new emails each time you simply copy and paste reminders from old email templates. Either way, this process is still time-consuming and unnecessary.
Automate these reminders to expedite the process and increase the chances that the insured will respond. In fact, compared to broadcast emails, automated emails have a 119% higher click rate. Activate smart auto-reminders to send to the insured at an ever-increasing rate as the due date for the forms approaches. Your online portal should give you this ability.
For example, with Indio, check the box labeled “Send smart reminders to client.” The portal will send automated reminders to your clients via email.
Agents can set these automated reminders for their insured so that they are messaged only if they haven’t completed a certain action by a certain date. Thus, the insured is contacted only when necessary and over-messaging is avoided.
With automated reminders, you as the agent no longer have to worry about manually sending emails to monitor whether or not an insured has completed their application.
4. Download/Export Information.
As you attach and send important information back and forth via email with the insured, you run the risk of the following:
- Documents not being up-to-date. Attachments can be easy to lose track of for both the agent and the insured. Forms will often go through several iterations. Old emails with outdated attachments are a problem if the agent or the insured thinks they have the most current version. Mistakes and extra work are the result.
- Security issues. Despite being routine, email attachments are shockingly unsafe. Sensitive, confidential information can be hacked with email attachments. You also don’t know who is even opening the attachments as emails get forwarded.
- Deliverability. The size of an email can affect whether or not it makes it to its destination. The maximum file size that can be sent via email is around 10-25 MB. Emails with large attachment files may also be marked as spam.
For the insured, email attachments are cumbersome to download. There’s also the chance that attachments are lost when forwarding an email for another company member to sign.
With an online portal, the agent can download/export information such as documents, applications, forms, and Schedule Workbooks at any time and easily transfer it to other parties/software required for going to market.
Download forms directly from the online portal.
The insured can log in to the portal at any time to complete their insurance applications and forms, rather than sorting through complicated email attachments.
A major benefit for the agency is that they can download an application immediately from the portal once the insured has submitted. The application can then be sent to the carrier, saving time spent on email attachments. It’s a win for both the agent and the insured.
5. Track Changes in Real Time.
Changes within applications are difficult to track with email. Anytime an insured makes an update to data in an insurance form or in schedule workbook data (exposure data such as Statement of Values, Certificate Holders lists, etc.), the agent can’t follow along—they can only check after the application or schedule workbook data is emailed back.
Then the agent must carefully compare data with last year’s info to annotate and ensure that no changes are missed. If changes are overlooked, the risk of E&O exposure is strong.
You need to know what’s going on with applications, even after you hit “Send” and the insured receives the information. The right portal tracks the changes that the insured makes, time-stamps them, and provides them in an easy-to-read, color-coded, itemized list. The insured can log in to the portal at any time to make changes.
This feature alleviates the need for agents to reach out to insureds to confirm whether certain pieces of information have changed. Instead, the agency can have the insured update Schedule Workbooks within the portal and know that they can track all of the changes and compare them to previous years. It helps to reduce the concern that changes have been forgotten during the renewal period.
Improve the Email Process
Whether you are sending long emails, reminding the insured to complete an application, downloading information, or trying to track changes within an application, reduce the time and effort you put into emails with the above strategies.
Email is not going anywhere anytime soon, but the way you use it is. Use it strategically to improve efficiency, accuracy, and customer experience. Less time spent on email means more time to act as an adviser and impress your customer.