For many in the insurance industry, 2020 brought an unexpected challenge to their ability to stay productive in the face of unprecedented changes.
Last fall, we spoke with insurance and productivity experts Stephanie Houston, operations consultant with ReSource Pro; Angela Adams, president of Angela Adams Consulting; and Steve Anderson, author of The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon and co-founder and CEO of Catalyit, to hear their thoughts on what productivity means to them, what prevents insurance organizations from being productive, and their favorite tech solution for improving productivity.
WHAT DOES PRODUCTIVITY MEAN TO YOU?
“Much more than being busy,” said Angela. “It’s important to measure how much you accomplish, not how busy you are.”
Steve spoke similarly, explaining that productivity is, “making sure not that you’re getting more things done, but more of the right things done.”
For Stephanie, productivity means working smarter, not longer hours. “Productivity is about delegation: getting the right tasks to the right people. I ask myself, ‘Is there someone better suited?’ If so, then delegate!” she said.
WHAT IS ONE BIG PRODUCTIVITY CHALLENGE FOR INSURANCE ORGANIZATIONS?
Stephanie explained that a common barrier is taking on too many initiatives at one time, “Change is hard and even harder when it is compounded by multiple initiatives with competing priorities.”
In Angela’s experience working with agencies, it’s the stereotype of producers and account managers as adversaries. “If they would work as a team, they could be so much more,” said Angela. “One is detail-oriented, one is results-driven. By nature and personality, their strengths are synergistic.”
According to Steve, another agency challenge is managing an email inbox. “I believe very strongly that most agency staff put entirely too much weight on answering email fast and not training clients on when an appropriate response should come,” said Steve. “‘Our clients expect that,’ is the comment I hear. Well, you trained them to. Tell them, ‘Here is how we handle email communication, and depending on the request, it may take longer. In an emergency, call us or text us.’ Communicate clearly what the expectations are.”
WHAT TECH SOLUTION DO YOU USE TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY?
For Steve, the answer is web-based appointment scheduling services. “People wanting to meet with me can see when I have time available, and it’s added automatically to my calendar. It saves both sides the ‘When do you have time?’ back and forth.”
“I use OneNote to keep organized,” said Stephanie. “I keep a running to-do list and password-protected notebooks for tracking work and meetings. It is also a great platform for collaboration and helps decrease email traffic. Which is always a win in my book.”
Angela recommends Mural, a virtual, multi-user whiteboard. “This one is for collaboration more than productivity. It’s one I’m really advocating for since the pandemic,” she said. “I introduced it internally, and now we are using it in client meetings. People that tend not to speak up in meetings have much less hesitation about adding sticky notes to a subject. I have participated in a lot of meetings throughout my career where producers will speak up, but account managers won’t. This tool helps get the best out of everyone.”