An Agency Website with a polished, rich design and robust functionality OR an Agency Website with a basic design and moderate functionality – which would your Agents choose?
I can state with certainty they would choose the robust, functional, polished agency website! How do I know this? Experience. Client’s I work with that have invested the time and dollars to re-architect, re-brand and add advanced functionality (aka, “Website Trilogy”) to their out-dated agency websites are reaping the benefits:
Satisfied agents that Sell their products.
So, if your asking what I mean by the Website Trilogy and what is involved, I have two comments:
- First, continue to read;
- Second, maybe it’s time to realign your agency website to support the growth in your business, get on track with the latest technology, and remain competitive.
Website Trilogy is a term that I use with my client’s to design, develop, and revitalize their out-dated, agency website. This process has three (3) components associated with it:
Each component of this trilogy is explained below.
When Insurance carriers began developing agency websites, the technology available had limitations. Technology and technology platforms have advanced considerably from those days. Insurance carriers may not be utilizing today’s latest and greatest technology platforms as the foundation for their agency websites. One reason may be the age old thinking – “if its not broken then don’t fix it”. I disagree and pose this – “if its out-dated and doesn’t support your business, re-build”!
Technology platforms utilized today to develop and maintain websites offer many benefits over their older counterparts. These more sophisticated platforms are the foundation for re-architecting your current agency website. Advantages associated with these platforms include:
- Content Management Systems (“CMS”) – End-users can update content on the site without IT support.
- Greater interface capabilities with back office systems – allows for information from back office systems to reside on the agency website.
- Usability/GUI – Easier for the agent/agency to navigate through the site to obtain the information they need.
- Security –more effective security allows only certain groups of users to see data on the agency website.
- Rapid development – shorter development cycles for adding new functions and features.
- Remote access support — Greater capability to support WAN and LAN communications.
Technology platforms are abundant in today’s market. Prior to selecting a platform, complete your in-house due diligence by determining:
- What the agency website needs to do,
- How it will be accomplished,
- What functionality is required,
- Who will own the site content.
Having the answers to these important questions will guide the technology platform evaluation and selection.
As the platform is integrated into your environment, re-branding of the site should be undertaken. Older sites tend to have a monochromatic (a single color schema) or a “mainframe green screens” look and feel.
Bring your agency website into the 21st century by re-branding. This means:
- New graphic design: color, logo’s, images, etc,
- New content design: pages designed for readability, functionality, and content relation,
- more efficient navigation throughout the site,
- menu options that are understandable and meaningful,
- help sections
Don’t be afraid to audit your competitors’ websites and see how they’ve updated their design.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this critical step – The presentation of your new site is just as important as the functionality you will build into it.
Working with your internal staff and some key agents, you must strategically plan what functionality should be included on the new site. Review your current functionality, but consider new services that will make your agents’ lives easier. Figure 1 below represents some of the key functions to consider.
It has been my experience that sites that have not been upgraded in the last 3-5 years lack some of the key functionality noted in Figure 1. Today’s agents are technology savvy. They want websites that give them the information and the tools that will make them successful in performing their jobs. Give your agents the ability to login to your agency website and:
- View Commissions –View their own commission statements online as frequently as they choose.
- Access e-Enrollment –Process and submit applications electronically to the insurance carrier.
- Inquire About Claims – View and track the status of all claims they have outstanding with their policyholders.
- Pay Bills – Pay the bills or process the billing for your policyholders, give the agency the ability to process this transaction via the website.
- Develop Quote –Provide quotes for some of your simplified products.
- Check Policy Status –See what requirements remain outstanding for pended policies.
- Access Sales and Marketing Material –Pull the latest brochures and other materials and print on demand, without having to order from the home office.
- Run Reports –Run any and all agent reports whenever they need them.
These are just a few key functions that that I have helped our clients develop for their new upgraded agency websites.
Built into the agency website is a tight security model, to protect all agent data from those who should not see or have access to it.
If you’re serious about advancing your agency website, then consider the Agency Website Trilogy. You want to cover all three phases in-depth. Omitting just one could jeopardize the success of your revitalization project.
I’ve had clients say that they believe the cost and time commitment for undertaking such a project is more than they can afford during this economic downturn. After spending a few weeks with a client to strategically plan a project such as this, the cost and time commitments are far less than what they anticipated. In addition, completing a project like this in iterations can help to alleviate the impact of a financial “big bang” or a long-term deployment.
So what is stopping you from revitalizing your agency website? Could I be right that you are still thinking, “Jeff – it’s not broken”?