CRM for Insurance Agents: What Can CRM Technology Do for Your Practice?

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Can CRM Technology Do for Your Practice?

 If you’ve been considering implementing a CRM system or are curious about what CRM processes and technology can do for your practice, you’re not alone. Client Relationship Management (or CRM) technology is big business and thousands of small businesses are now discovering what bigger businesses learned years ago – CRM technology can help you to close more sales, reduce client churn and build your business. In this first of a series of10 articles, we’ll look at Client Relationship Management technology and assess how it can be used to help insurance professionals more effectively manage and grow their practices. Today, we’ll start by defining what CRM actually is and highlight some of the reasons why this may be the right time for your practice to embrace CRM technology.

CRM Technology - Then and Now

Client Relationship Management (or CRM for short) is undoubtedly one of the business "buzz phrases" of the 21st century. The fundamentally simple idea of businesses retaining customers and getting them to buy more has led to the introduction of a wealth of technology, the purpose of which is to help businesses achieve these goals. In the early years of CRM, systems were primarily designed to cater to the needs of bigger businesses that had to make significant investments in both time and money to implement them. If you were a small business, you were out of luck. There were very few, if any, “off-the-shelf CRM programs” and applications had to be customized to meet the needs of the business implementing them. Not the perfect scenario for a small business on a limited budget.

The good news is that in the years since CRM technology first emerged, the number of available applications has increased significantly. More importantly, there’s also been a significant increase in the number of applications designed specifically for the small business market. Factor in reduced costs and rapid implementation and you begin to see that CRM technology is now within the reach of most small businesses.

 

What is CRM?

Let’s start by saying that discussions on CRM shouldn’t solely revolve around a discussion of CRM technology. CRM is not just about technology. Technology certainly plays a role in a successful CRM program but that’s not what CRM is. CRM has been defined in a number of ways, but in its truest sense, CRM is actually a term that describes the processes that a business implements to manage interactions between its various departments and its customers and prospects. Simply put, humans (business owners) determine and define the nature of these processes - CRM technology supports the processes and makes it easier to implement them and create a successful outcome. The exact nature of that successful outcome will vary from company to company, but for most businesses a successful CRM program will help you both add new clients and do a better job keeping the ones you have.

 

What can CRM technology do for your practice?

If you’re an independent insurance agent or a member of a small practice of just a few agents, you may think that there’s little reason for you to consider adding CRM technology. Similarly, if your practice is relatively new or you’ve only been licensed for a short time, you might also think that CRM isn’t for you.

 

Not true.

 

The introduction of CRM applications that have be designed specifically for the insurance industry means that there are several good reasons why you should consider implementing some form of client relationship management technology in your practice:

 

·         Reason #1 – You Can Use CRM to Improve Client Retention Rates

CRM technology can help you track and store an amazing amount of information about your clients that goes way beyond their name and address – this may include (but isn’t limited to) anniversary and birthday dates, nicknames, spouse’s names, kid’s names, work address along with policy and beneficiary information. Using this information as part of a carefully planned and executed CRM program backed by the right technology will help you better service your clients and increase client retention rates.

·         Reason #2 – You Can Earn More Commissions

CRM technology can generate data you can use to position additional products to your existing client base.  This means that not only will you then be doing a better job retaining your clients, you’ll also do a better job meeting their needs while creating opportunities to earn more commissions.

 

·         Reason #3 – You Can More Effectively Measure the Return on Your Marketing Expense

The cost of marketing is often the largest line item on any practice’s P&L. CRM technology will help you monitor what you’re spending, track what you’re spending it on and measure the results. You or your practice manager can use this information to ensure you’re receiving an appropriate return on your marketing dollars and funnel marketing dollars into activities that yield the best results.

·         Reason #4 – You Can Learn More About Your Practice & Make Improvements

Implementing CRM processes will help you to learn more about your practice. The information you gather about your clients, what their needs are and what’s working and what’s not working for them will help you to make improvements that yield positive results. These improvements may come in the form of a more streamlined client service process or perhaps might lead you to introduce new product lines to meet your client’s needs. Either way, the knowledge you gain can help you to make changes that will have a positive impact on your practice.

 

Conclusion

The arguments in favor of implementing CRM technology would seem to be overwhelming – use CRM and you can improve client retention, earn more commissions, lower your marketing costs and improve internal processes to help your practice run more smoothly. The increased availability of affordable CRM applications coupled with the recent introduction of systems designed for insurance professionals, means that it’s now easier than ever to implement a CRM solution – regardless of the size of your practice. With that said, the question still remains, what kind of solution should you consider? In the next article, I’ll review some of the different options and make a recommendation as to the type of technology you should focus on as you search for a CRM solution for your practice.