There are many different ways to keep your clients and prospects data from paper files to Excel spreadsheets to address books to software for your PC for the financial industry to life insurance specific databases both online and off. Managing your data is one of the most important parts of your business, from securing personal data to making sure you can quickly retrieve data when needed. Where do you and your office best fit in with the myriad of technology and choices?
Years ago everything was in the filing cabinet waiting to be pulled as needed. This could lead to large storage areas for agencies and over time even single independent agents. Problems arose when they were filed incorrectly or someone had the file on their desk when you needed it. Now with the new technology, agency management software, you can have everything at your fingertips. Options include databases that store all client contact information to more elaborate solutions that include policy info, detailed reports and automation. The software can be tailored to life insurance specifically, to ones specializing in the financial industry or to general programs that can be used by salesman in any industry. Agency management software can store all your data and calendars to track your calls and appointments. Software designed for life insurance can include a quote engine built in to save time and store quotes, the ability to order paramedical exams, detailed reports to track cases through the sales process helping to improve sales percentage and increase the profitability of your office. Finding the right solution for your office is the key. Consider the following when making a decision.
1. Data security. Make sure your sensitive data is safe from prying eyes as well as from fire, flooding and other office disasters.
2. Ease of use. Features and graphics are great but if it isn't easy enough to use you won't realize the benefits. Do you need to do and secure manual backups?
3. Accessibility. Can everyone see the data they need to, and can it be restricted from those you don't want to see it? Is the data networked in your office or if you work in multiple locations, offices or from home is it accessible via the Internet?
4. Flexibility. No two agents or offices do everything just the same, yet many programs require you to work in their design. You can customize some programs if you know how; others can be done by the developing company.
5. Cost. There are solutions in all price ranges including free.
Data Security is obviously a key. Being able to restrict sensitive data from part time employees or from others who may have access to your computer or office as well as having agents in your office only being able to access cases assigned to them. Backing up your data is essential in making a decision as well. From fires to flood or simply lost data can lose clients, money and open you to E&O issues.
Ease of use and features is one of the first things you will look at most times. You will need to determine what type of data you want to store and how you will update it. Do you just need an address book to keep names, addresses and phone numbers of clients or just a simple calendar of calls and appointments? Do you need to be able to quote clients directly from the data? On the other end of the spectrum you can store all application data, copies of the application and exam, all client communications and documents.
Accessibility to everyone in your office results in better customer service. Do you need one central location for the data or is it needed by everyone in your office. If so you can network your office computers or sync them as needed. Do you have multiple offices, work from home, or need access to data when you travel? If so there are Internet based systems to fit your needs. Even if you only work from one office, Internet systems will provide you with additional options.
Flexibility is an important factor. Consider the ability to customize the solution you select and not only based on what you need right now but with what you may need in the future. Many offices use a product that they admit isn't the best choice, but resist making a change because of the time and cost of change. Consider the products ability to adapt to new technology and potential office growth so you don't face this situation in the future. Another key is who makes the changes. Do you know how or want to learn how to make the changes yourself or is your time better spent selling while someone else makes the necessary changes for you?
Costs vary with features. If you are using this as the center point of your office then the cheapest priced solution may not be the best. This is your own insurance policy of your businesses critical data. What would the potential loss in income be if your data were lost? You will always hear you get what you pay for, but if you choose a solution that best manages you and your staff's time and resources you will find yourself saving and making more money.
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