Gregory & Appel Insurance, an independent risk management advisor, is dedicated to providing resources to protect client assets and human capital while simultaneously minimizing risk. However, G&A found that internal operational inefficiencies hindered the account manager’s ability to advise and delight the client — inefficiencies that Christina Kelley, G&A’s COO, knew could be reduced or eliminated with the right technology.
Operational inefficiency costs many agencies valuable time and energy — time and energy that could be spent on investing in clients and increasing revenue. According to Kelley, “The more task-driven, lower-level administrative activities that staff have to do, the less delightful the client experience on the other end.”
G&A account managers had difficulty being able to control the paper storm, with information spread across applications, forms, spreadsheets, and paper notes. Additionally, these documents also took up large amounts of disk space once scanned.
Renewals were confusing for both account managers and clients. For example, G&A’s gold standard renewal timeline starts 120 days out from the renewal deadline. For one client, however, the advisory had to start the process six months out because it took longer to get all of their information together.
“Renewals are frustrating from a client perspective, and I think even more so on the commercial side than it is on the personal line side, because of the multiple pages that you have to complete and the pieces of information you’re required to recall,” Kelley says. Clients had questions but often didn’t know where to start and who to call. According to Kelley, “As an account manager, you get to a certain point where it’s just tedious constantly answering questions about applications and forms. And if that frustration comes through on a phone call with a client, that negative impression stays forever.”
In addition, account managers were dealing with too much redundant data entry (e.g., transposing social security numbers, dates of birth, etc.), which increased the chance of errors and omissions (E&O) when account managers keyed this information into the system. If any info was inserted incorrectly and the account manager had to admit to the client that they had made a mistake, it further decreased the trust level with the client and opened up room for liability.
In short, operational inefficiencies were affecting multiple areas of G&A’s business, ultimately impacting the client experience.
G&A chose Indio to combat operational inefficiencies with technology. Since implementation, the reduction in internal operational inefficiencies has significantly improved the application and renewal process for G&A. Account managers now have more time to spend on client needs outside of administrative tasks. Client satisfaction has increased as a result.
Online Portal mitigates G&A’s paper storm
The traditional application and renewal process involves a flood of paper documents that an account manager has to sort through, organize, and scan. Indio offers an online portal, or database, that eliminates this problem. Instead of attaching multiple scanned documents to an email, G&A account managers can send clients one link that directs them to smart forms within the G&A branded online portal. These smart forms include things like conditional questions, comments, directions, and e-signatures directly within the forms to make it easier for the insured to understand and fill out.
Common answers such as names are also automatically inserted across smart forms, so G&A account managers no longer waste time deciphering client handwriting or making mistakes retyping information — account managers can now focus their efforts on actual client needs. “Now we have PDF files that are searchable, they’re clean, they’re complete — account managers don’t have to try to interpret handwriting and we can just pass forms back and forth and do with them what we need to do,” Kelley says. “Indio was the solution that fit the best for this problem.”
In addition, account managers can check within the portal to see, in real-time, how much of an application an insured has already completed and what they have not. This eliminates unnecessary effort spent on sending emails asking the client their status in the application process. Account managers are also automatically notified about G&A client questions within the portal and can respond accordingly — this is much easier than trying to track and sort through multiple questions via email.
And, if a client has yet to fill out an application, a G&A account manager can simply send automated reminders through the Indio portal. Reminders are sent at an increasing cadence as the application deadline draws closer. This ability is a major benefit for account managers — formerly, account managers had to constantly monitor deadlines and manually send reminder emails to clients. It was a painstaking and frustrating process, especially when clients failed to complete applications on time. The Indio platform now takes care of both deadlines and deadline communication which saves account managers valuable time and energy that can be spent on advising clients.
Changes are tracked in real-time
G&A’s former renewal process required the insured to make changes to an application or schedule workbook data and then email everything back to the account manager. It was a nightmare for the account manager who had to painstakingly compare the data against the previous year’s information, cell by cell, looking for changes and making annotations.
With Indio’s Schedule Workbooks, GA account managers now can upload spreadsheets straight into Indio’s online portal and send a link to clients. Their clients can then make all changes to workbook data online rather than on a static file saved to a hard drive. Changes are easy for account managers to review as they are presented in a color-coded, itemized list. Timestamps also show when and who made changes to the workbook. It eliminates frustrating comparison work (and decreases the chance of costly mistakes).
Indio’s Schedule Workbook
As Kelley explains, this Indio feature makes it easier on account managers. Completing the process the old way and having account managers compare 120 locations and 50 drivers and 75 vehicles are really enough to get someone to quit. “I think we’ll see more accuracy and timely responses, which is important, especially when it comes to audit time,” Kelley says.
Assigning sections reduced client confusion
Indio’s smart forms give G&A account managers the option to mark the questions that the insured needs to fill out as “Required.” The insured then cannot “submit” their application until all required questions are complete — no guesswork involved. If the form needs more than one person’s help, account managers simply assign the smart form section to another company member who can complete the relevant sections simultaneously.
Account managers being able to require sections of an application or assigning specific applications to different members of the same company has been a game-changer for G&A. For example, one G&A client renewal period process used to begin six months in advance to meet the May 1st deadline. This year, the advisory deliberately delayed the start date to test Indio with the client. Through the use of Indio features, the renewal process time was cut in half.
The account manager was able to easily pass information to people that needed it and they were able to easily complete it. The account manager didn’t have to hunt company members down or search for past emails to see if she sent information because everything was there in the Indio dashboard.
Kelley admits that it took time to get staff members on board, but G&A account managers are now happier. All of the above Indio features create additional time for account managers to really become risk managers instead of just account and paper managers.
According to Kelley, the results of using Indio have been clearly visible. “I have staff that has said, ‘Now that I understand where we’re going with this, my clients are excited. They don’t ever want to see another paper form. The client reaction is ‘Now that we have it, we’re not going back.’”
Operational inefficiencies waste valuable account manager time — time that G&A account managers now get back through the use of Indio technology. Whether during a regular application process or renewal period, account managers are better equipped to have important conversations with their clients about risk, rather than answering basic questions about form sections.
“I can tell you that every opportunity we get to talk to our peers or partners, we do because we know the struggle that account managers have getting renewal cycles and paper cycles under control. It is the biggest pain point for agencies, especially independent agencies that don’t have a ton of resources to throw at automated tools,” Kelley says. “Agencies can’t always just add another warm body to process more paper. It’s not a reality in this hiring climate or industry. And that’s how the economy is changing. Indio has something really special.”