How to achieve the data analytics edge

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For brokers looking for an edge in helping to keep current clients and recruit new ones, analyzing and mining data is an emerging area, and those brokers who take part are improving business practices, prospecting and client retention.

Businesses of any size can tap into analytics to improve business practices both internally and externally, explains Jonathan Moran, principal product manager for customer intelligence at SAS, a Cary, N.C.-based developer of analytics software and the world’s largest privately held software business. “Many of the same applications of data analytics that your organization’s marketing department might do can also be tweaked and leveraged to better serve your internal customers — the employees — and existing clients,” he says. “For client retention, a company can mine data from customer service records, be it call center conversations or on-site appointments, and then apply analytics as an effective tool to predict what a client’s next concern might be. By being proactive in addressing potential issues, the business is more likely to retain the customer.”

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That is a topic Tom Avery, president and founder of Folsom, Calif.-based brokerage Innovative Broker Services. has experienced firsthand. He uses data to understand what a client’s employees are doing by using software that provides a detailed analysis on when an employee opens an email, clicks on a website or clicks on other links to drive further engagement. “For us as an industry, [using data in this way] is cutting edge,” Avery says. Brokerages “are finally starting to embrace that data analytics helps with our prospecting.”

He also analyses data to help with client retention. After conducting webinars, for example, he will send surveys to ask clients their feedback. Based on their responses, his company will ask for referrals and use that data to drive further products to clients and, in return, drive product sales.

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As an example, Avery rolled out a tech solution and had a webinar to discuss it, followed by a survey. Feedback from those polls showed clients wanted to integrate it with payroll, so his firm did that and went back to the clients. “We are implementing surveys. From the surveys we get data to drive additional products, and that drives more revenue,” he explains. “The more someone buys from you, the less likely they are to leave. If I can present payroll, it is one more reason for them to stick with us. It drives revenue, but also diversifies revenue. We know as an agency we have commission compression; this allows us to open new revenue streams.”

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Of his six largest current prospects, Avery will not be selling them benefits. “What I am going to be doing is talking about technology and integration and doing HR consulting,” he says. “That is not what a broker historically does. … We are rehabbing ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Jim Campbell, president and CEO of Rockville, Md.-based Axim Global Strategies, is also using data to increase revenue by helping clients analyze employee wellness and outcomes through his own internal tools. It has won him countless business, he says, but it is a large upfront investment. “You have to make the investment because if you don’t, we will take your client,” he adds.

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