Today’s employees expect quicker turnarounds, ease of access and uncompromised service. A tall order! So how can benefit advisers get and keep a competitive edge in an increasingly technological marketplace? Here are a few tools that you can use to help you achieve the results you desire.

Tools you need now
Brokers in the field used to need a planner, a calculator, presentations, applications and underwriting guidelines from each carrier they represented. Now, all a savvy broker is needs is a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

Bloomberg/file photo

Thanks to cloud storage and sharing, electronic apps, e-signatures, field underwriting apps and improved customer relationship management systems, you can handle everything efficiently with one simple electronic tool. The newest tech doesn’t just help brokers in the field. It also helps them manage all the tasks they need to accomplish.

Besides getting new clients, which involves advertising, prospecting, follow-ups, drip campaigns and networking, brokers must facilitate policy issue, keep up with industry and regulatory changes, adopt new processes and keep up with new products and product changes.

All of your duties — sales, marketing, working with underwriters, processing client requests and reviewing products — boil down to relationship management. And that means collaboration and communication. Tools that help you communicate and collaborate are thus invaluable.

Free cloud-storage tools such as Dropbox for document sharing and inexpensive email-marketing applications like Constant Contact and MailChimp make it easy to deploy campaigns and stay organized. Tools such as Hearsay Social and TweetDeck let you manage your presence across multiple social platforms.

Even sales is shifting from a face-to-face to online. In 2013, LIMRA reported that only 50% of clients wanted face-to-face meetings to purchase insurance. Your brokerage needs to find new ways of communicating with clients that give them all the features of an in-person meeting without sharing a room with them. For this, you can use tools like Skype.

If you’re proud that your agency recently upgraded to email and e-fax, you’ve got a lot more work ahead of you. Perhaps you may need to integrate HR and management technology tools in the style of Zenefits and WebHR. Maybe you’ll want to make notation easier with Dragon Dictation. There are many options to explore.

Demand this from your carriers
Your carriers should offer tools that support every facet of insurance workflow, including broker functionality. Demand straight-through processing (STP) that eliminates the need for re-keying data.

Web-based automation tools not only streamline efficiency across insurance departments and organizations, but make the adviser’s job much easier, too. Advanced workflow tools such as email notification, statusing and event management give real-time data and analytics to users on-demand. Broker portals should give advisers access to systems based on authorization level. Web services can facilitate the integration of in-house or other vendor systems, such as CRMs, creating an entirely integrated environment.

Broker tools that facilitate STP help brokers sell more policies and improve efficiency. More importantly, STP helps brokers give excellent customer service and retain clients.

Work with insurers that understand your needs. They should give you access to quotes and illustrations, open communication and high standards of technology and service.

If a carrier is behind the times, let them know how you feel. When enough brokers threaten to take their business elsewhere, management will get the point.

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