"Eddie Says" Blog
I had to take my shoes off this morning. That’s because I got counting all of the folks I was thankful for and I ran out of fingers! I jotted them down so I didn’t lose track. Here’s what I wrote:
I’m thankful for all of the really great carriers—and the even greater people who work for them—that offer Real Time and Download functionalities that help my agent and broker buds operate more efficiently.
I’m thankful for the MGAs and Wholesalers that have come on board to help fill in some gaps in the system. People who work for these intermediaries really are helping to make Real Time and Download work all the way through our distribution channel.
I’m thankful for the vendors and their people—including the programmers who work tireless to develop code that powers better Real Time interface. Thanks for what you do to better connect everyone through Real Time and Download.
I’m thankful for the really cool user groups and associations, and the volunteers and staff that power them! What a great bunch of advocates for better interface, and what a great source of peer-to-peer education for management systems users and others.
I’m thankful for the companies and organizations that support the Real Time/Download Campaign. Your contributions let us keep spreading the word and getting more and more people on board and really making our industry more competitive!
I’m thankful for groups like AUGIE and ACT, who bring together super-great and passionate people who work together. You make improved interface between agents and brokers and their carrier partners a priority and are making it work better than ever.
I’m thankful for all of my Facebook fans. I like when more people like me, and I just love it when you comment on stuff I write and when you share my words of wisdom with others. By the way, I’ll be especially thankful if you can help find me more fans!
I’m most certainly thankful for our campaign co-chairs, Joyce and Stu, and the folks who preceded them. I don’t think anybody realizes how much great stuff they do for the campaign and for our entire industry. You guys rock!
I can’t forget our insurance trade press, either. Annie, Andrea, Carrie, Chad, Jackie, Kathy, Katie, Laura, Nancy, Robert, Ron, Walt and the rest of you, thanks from the bottom of my big round heart for helping us spread the word about the future of our business!
Finally, I’m thankful for you—the folks who read my blog. I appreciate you coming back. While you’re here, why not tell me what you’re thankful for? Or better yet, go and thank one of your coworkers or business partners or loved ones for something they do!
Now I need to get my shoes back on and get ready for Turkey!!!
I’m sure you’ve noticed—it’s dark in the morning.
Hey buddy, yes, it is 7:00 in the morning.
Yeah, I know it’s dark, but I’m telling you it’s time to get up.
See? Being a clock in late October is not so fun. And the mood doesn’t lighten up anytime soon. So next time you feel like throwing one of us timepieces against the wall, please remember that’s it’s not nice to shoot—or hurl—the messenger.
But it’s likely that when you’re reading this, the sun is already up. Your day will certainly be a busy one—aren’t they all? So let me take just a moment to deliver another reality. The holidays are coming…as are renewals, end-of-year projects and all those other tasks that drive you to your wit’s end.
This is the time of year when everyone wishes there were more hours in the day.
But here’s the good news. You can get some hours back if you use Real Time. Is that motivating enough to get you started if you haven’t? Don’t wait till the New Year to waste a resolution on being more time-savvy. Do it today. The tools are ready and waiting.
As the 2013 Real Time Survey discovered, slightly more than 20,000 real-time transactions are already being performed industry-wide each day through agency management systems. In addition, the use of real-time rating tools is up by more than 32% in the last 18 months. Pretty good stuff. We’re definitely heading in the right direction. Make sure you’re headed that way, too.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out my handy Real Time Implementation Guide. The 21-Day Challenge offers a nice step-by-step process, as well. Oh, and check with your carriers, management systems vendor and users groups to see what help they might offer.
Now… No more snoozin’. It’s time to get up—and moving!
All of my friends who are part of the Real Time/Download Campaign want one thing: better interface that will allow independent insurance agents and brokers to compete more effectively and serve clients better. Pretty noble goal if you ask me. Two big parts of finding success are getting more functionality and getting more agents to use what’s out there.
When the campaign folks conducted their most recent survey, they asked agents “Why not?” And they asked it over and over. I think every time someone taking the survey could answer that they didn’t use a specific functionality, they were asked, “Why not?” The answers were interesting.
Too many—in my mind, anyway—said they didn’t know why not. If you want my opinion, these people need to start asking the boss “Why not?” Better yet, they should arm themselves with reasons why they should start using the functionality. Make a case for improved efficiency in your insurance agency or brokerage!
Many of the responses point to opportunities insurance carriers, vendors, agents, brokers and other thought leaders have to communicate with agents the how-tos and the whys of Real Time and Download. Many point to the need for more carriers to get on board and with more functionality.
Here’s a quick glimpse into some of the “Why nots” the survey participants offered:
- For real-time commercial lines rating, the top two reasons cited were, “We don’t have a real-time comparative rater for commercial lines” and “Too few carriers offer commercial lines real-time rating tools.”
- Real-time inquiry and service “why nots” included “I don’t know why we don’t” (grrrrrrr), “Too few carriers offer/support the transactions we use’” and “We did not know this was available in our management system.” That last one deserves a grrrr, as well.
- For commercial lines download, respondents said, “It overwrites too much data,” “It lacks details, consistency, or quality,” and “There’s too much inconsistency in workflows from carrier to carrier.”
- Personal lines real-time rating “why not” responses included, “It’s easier to go to the company website,” “We tried it, but found it too slow/inaccurate” and “It’s not worth the extra expense.”
- Only one in 20 survey participants said they didn’t use personal lines download, but those who didn’t said, “It’s not worth the extra expense” and “It overwrites too much data.”
So what do you think? How do we address these “Why nots?” How do we get more carriers offering more functionality and get more agents and brokers to use it?
I know, I know. Carriers won’t offer more until agents use what’s there and agents won’t use it until there’s a critical mass. I’ve heard the arguments before. It’s the old “chicken and egg” thing. But you know what? If each group waits for the other, guess what’s going to happen. The direct-writing competition is going to feast on both—chicken and eggs!
That’s what I think. What about you?
I have to admit I was surprised when I learned that more than two-thirds of Americans say they’d continue working if they won a $10 million lottery prize. Or at least that’s what they told the Gallup organization. Some 44% said they’d stay in the exact same job.
Only 23% would take such a windfall and use it as an opportunity to switch to a new career—you know, open the bar they always wanted, be an outdoor guide, start an entrepreneurial venture. Just 31% would take their lottery winnings and permanently retire.
What would you do? Surely you’ve daydreamed about the possibility. But that daydreaming is likely countered by the oh-so-real reality that the chances of winning are slim—as in the 1-in-175-million chance for the Powerball lottery, the mega multi-state game that tempts so many.
Of course, I can’t promise you a multi-million-dollar windfall. But what if I told you I could give you back five hours a week? Or 260 hours per year? That’s just what Commercial Lines Download can provide—almost an hour a day per employee. That’s a pretty good jackpot. Remember, time is money, right?
Many of you have already discovered the savings delivered by Commercial Download. In fact, more than three-quarters (78%) of commercial lines agents who use a management system use download for one purpose or another. What’s more, those who use it for all commercial lines save, on average, 35% more time than do those who only use it for some lines.
Sounds like a pretty good bet if you ask me.
So, if you’re one of the hold-out commercial lines agents—the 22% who have yet to use download—or if you haven’t started using it for all of your commercial business, your winnings are waiting. Skip today’s lottery and get download instead. Odds are, you’ll be pleased.
For years, two of my favorite words have been information and graphics. Information, of course, is what my Real Time/Download Campaign is all about. And graphics make everything look a little bit better!
We’re working with our friends in the industry to get information out to insurance agency and brokerage leaders and employees about how much they can improve their operations and serve customers better if they adopt Real Time and Download. We’re getting information to insurance carriers on how they can benefit and what it takes to create really good Real Time and Download functionality. We’re working hard with vendors to make sure great platforms exist to drive the capabilities.
Of course, graphics are cool, as well. We recently enhanced our website to be more visually and graphically appealing. We support the various reports and other documents with great graphics. We produce graphic-based presentations to report on campaign activities and progress. And, well, when you come right down to it, I’m kind of a graphic, if you will. At the very least, I was created by a graphic designer. Yep, it was a graphic pro who made me so darned cute!
So imagine how excited I was when I learned that two of my favorite words had gotten hitched and were taking the Internet and social media, in particular, by storm! What I didn’t know was the two had been connected for nearly four centuries. The smart people at Wikipedia.org say that in 1626, Christoph Scheiner published the Rosa Ursina sive Sol, a book that revealed his research about the rotation of the sun; Infographics appeared in the form of illustrations demonstrating the Sun’s rotation patterns. Who knew?
As exciting as Christoph’s accomplishment was, I’m pretty stoked about our latest creation: an infographic that summarizes work YOU GUYS did. Yep, we—okay, my graphic designer pal—put together a snazzy communication piece about the Agency Technology Survey that more than 2,000 of you took. It captures some of the highlights of the survey—like how much time you save using Real Time and Download, how much you’re using these great workflows, what usage differences there are between personal and commercial lines, and YOUR IDEAS on how we can improve Real Time and Download.
So, check it out. And, more important, share it. Send it to your friends. Share it with the boss. Post it on your social networks. Oh, and study it. You just might learn something you didn’t know! Finally, let me know what you thought about it. Just comment below!
In fact, more than half of customers said their insurance provider made no effort to retain them. That’s what Ernst & Young found in their 2012 Global Consumer Insurance Survey. At the same time, 62% of survey participants said they’d be more likely to renew if they were contacted. This isn’t rocket science now, is it?
And it seems even fewer brokers and agents are pursuing cross-sell opportunities. Of customers who have bought multiple products from the same provider, 65% said they did so because “It just makes it simpler to have it in all one place.” A measly 5% said they did it because “My agent/advisor suggested that I do it.”
It’s scary to consider how much business out there might be coming your way simply by default.
My guess, and I’m a bit biased, is that agents and brokers aren’t following up with customers or trying to cross sell because of time—or more specifically, lack of time. So much of your job is impacted by things out of your control—pricing, claim history, government regulations.
But client contact? That is 100% in your control.
It’s another great way to use the time savings realized by implementing Real Time. Make a commitment today to contact one client a week that may not have heard from you lately. Let them know you appreciate their business. Suggest products that might be a good fit with their needs.
Most importantly, don’t take your customer’s silence for approval. It isn’t their job to initiate contact—it’s yours. Don’t wait for their call, or it might just be them calling to tell you they’ve found someone else to handle their business.
I am enjoying that feeling, myself, thanks to info so many of you shared earlier this year. Yes, the results of the agency technology survey we conducted are in, and it looks like what I’m doing to promote Real Time and Download is catching on.
For instance, you guys are using real-time rating tools a whole lot more than you did last time I asked you to take a survey. That was all the way back in the fall of 2011, in case you don’t remember. The official word from the Real Time/Download Campaign is: “The use of real-time rating is up by more than 32% over the 18-month period.” The unofficial word from me is: “Yee Haa!”
You probably already knew this, but personal lines is where the Real Time and Download home runs are being hit. Some 95% of respondents say they use personal lines download and 83% say they use real-time rating.
Commercial is a little behind, but it’s also a ton more complex, so that’s understandable. Kinda. We’re seeing more and more real-time tools being made available for commercial lines. And agencies and brokerages that have tried commercial lines download recently are finding out it’s loads better than it used to be. (Of course, “ton more” and “loads better” aren’t official survey words; they’re mine.) So I really encourage you ALL—agents, carriers and vendors—to get on the commercial bandwagon.
Now, as much as I get excited about a job well done—and this definitely is—I also realize that we have more to do. I’m aiming not only for a job well done, but a job done. And that’s where you can help. First, take a look at the survey report. Check out the results yourself. And then think about what you can do to help us convert the doubters, encourage the adopters that have faced difficulties, reward those who have supported us (including the vendors, carriers and associations that are working to make Real Time and Download better), and make these the predominant workflows in our business.
We’re in a battle. Those direct writers are out to steal your business. But I know you’re a “ton more” engaged in your community and “loads better” at really helping people understand how to protect what matters. Let’s get this efficiency stuff done—let’s make Real Time and Download must-haves in our business—and then let’s get on to selling more and more insurance. I know we can do it!
According to my review of research, the average rate of typing for someone transcribing something using a standard QWERTY computer keyboard is 33 words per minute. And there’s an equation for converting that word count into keystrokes per hour (Ain’t Google grand?).
WPM (words per minute) x 300 = KPH (keystrokes per hour).
If you’re the average typist, that means you’re completing 9,900 keystrokes per hour.
And because I’ve got nothing but time, I used a little to look up the fastest typist ever in The Guinness Book of World Records. It’s Barbara Blackburn, who had a peak speed of 212 words per minute in 2005 (albeit on a Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, not a QWERTY keyboard. But that’s splitting hairs, isn’t it?).
Anyway, if you have a Barbara in your office, she’s clocking in at a finger-splitting 63,600 keystrokes per hour. That makes my second hand hurt.
As impressive as Barbara’s accomplishment might be, and as quick as you might be at entering information into the computer, there are better things to be doing with your time. Like servicing clients.
And giving you the time to do just that is why Real Time exists.
The importance of shifting our time from task to client service is reinforced by a Customer Service Best Practices Survey by the business consulting firm Frost and Sullivan. Asked When choosing to do business with a company, how important is their reputation for customer service in influencing your decision?, over 63% said very important. Another 35.1% said somewhat important. Only 1.3% said not at all important.
And what industry consistently delivers the best customer service? Over 38.5% of survey respondents said Travel/Hospitality, putting it on top. Insurance was only chosen by 5.8%–putting it at the bottom alongside cable and telephone companies. Ouch. Looks like we need less keyboarding and more time talking with clients.
That’s the average maximum time American consumers are willing to wait on hold after calling a company (according to American Express’ 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer). And nearly one in five says they’ll only accept a wait that is less than five minutes.
Now thirteen minutes seems like a really long time to me. Maybe that’s because I’m a clock, but I think it’s more likely because the customer is essentially being ignored for far too long in my estimation. Thirteen minutes—that’s almost a quarter of an hour!
So, of course, I’m going to again emphasize the importance of time as it relates to customer service. Now don’t get me wrong; I understand that you’re busy, maxed out. But the same holds true for your client or customer.
Why worry about those thirteen minutes?
Because time impacts perception of customer service—and customers talk.
In fact, American Express also found that people will tell an average of 15 people about a good customer service experience…and will tell an average of 24 about a bad experience. So if they’re gonna talk, why not give them something good to say?
Another reason to sweat those thirteen minutes? Because when customer service receives high marks, it also ups engagement levels. That same study found that 75% of Americans will spend more with a company that they believe provides excellent customer service—13% more on average. (There’s that number thirteen again).
So get some minutes back in your day by using Real Time. Just one extra hour a week translates to 12 redeemed minutes daily, providing you the time needed to create at least one more ecstatic customer every day. And if that satisfied customer then told the average 15 people about their positive experience? There would be 75 new people hearing something good about your company each and every week!
Sounds like a pretty good use of time to me!
If you’re like me, you’re always up for a challenge. Of course, my biggest challenge is doing my part to make sure our independent agency channel is as strong as it can possibly be. That involves helping agencies find efficiencies within their own operations, encouraging more carriers to offer enhanced interface with agency systems, and boosting the quality of Real Time and Download.
If you’ve been to my page on the Real Time/Download Campaign website or if you’ve followed my comic strip, you may have seen me challenged to clear a driveway (it was a breeze,) you’ve seen me challenged to get out of a speeding ticket (“watch” how I did it,) and you’ve seen me challenged to read War and Peace (did that in no time at all.) All of those challenges were relatively easy compared to my most recent one.
Earlier this year, two of my most favoritest people in the whole wide world, Joyce Sigler and Stu Durland, issued a challenge for me. And they actually did so on my most favoritest day of the year, too: Real Time Day! So what was the challenge?
If you don’t want to read about it, that’s cool. You don’t have to. Just click through to watch a short video that explains it all. If you don’t want to wait for the movie (to load), here’s the deal: Stu and Joyce challenged me to get ONE THOUSAND LIKES on my Facebook page. That’s a one with three zeroes after it!
Obviously, that’s not something I can do on my own. After all, my Facebook network is limited to the 375 or so folks who already “Like” my page. But I know who CAN help me, and that’s you. If you’re reading my blog and haven’t yet connected with me on Facebook, go ahead and do so. I’ll share with you a stream that includes the latest and greatest with Real Time and Download, and links to some pretty valuable resources.
If you already are part of my Facebook community—or if you become part of it today—you can help me reach that thousand real easily. Just look at your own list of Facebook friends and see who among them should be connected to yours truly, RealTimeEddie. Direct them to the video or right to my Facebook page, Facebook.com/RealTimeEddie, so we can get acquainted.
I’m no mathematician, but I do know my gazintas. I believe 373 gazinta 1,000 just under three times. That means if everyone who already likes my page gets two more to like it (that’s three altogether) we can make 1,000 in no time at all.
If I’m gonna meet this challenge, I’m gonna need a little lovin’. More accurately, I’m gonna I need a lotta likin’.